CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Everything about Mark Herzlich — the work ethic, the willingness to improve, the underdog story and the attitude — makes him seem like a perfect fit for the Patriots.
Herzlich, a Boston College linebacker who is a year removed from beating cancer, has an uncertain draft stock. He could be a low second-rounder, or he could fall into the sixth round. But any team that selects him will be doing so with the future in mind, knowing he'll only get better with time.
The Patriots have been known to take risks on players with such a wide-ranging draft stock — tackle Sebastian Vollmer might be the prime example — and Herzlich has the versatility to fit into New England's system. He said he can play any linebacker position in the 3-4 and 4-3 defenses, like he did at BC, and that willingness to adapt on the fly should make him even more intriguing for New England.
"I know about the Patriots from watching on TV," Herzlich said. "From what I know, they have a great system, great work ethic, great coaches, run a lot like Boston College. But it's all about getting into the right system and making whatever system I go to work. If I go to the Patriots, it will work for me. If I go to a different team, that will work as well."
The Patriots had four representatives in attendance Wednesday for Boston College's pro day, but they didn't have any positional coaches there for Herzlich. That doesn't necessarily mean a lot, since the Patriots saw him at the Senior Bowl and the draft combine. Herzlich also said every team in the NFL medically cleared him at the combine.
There's also another thing to keep in mind. Herzlich's agent is Tom Condon, who doesn't exactly have a stellar working relationship with the Patriots, so that could limit their interest.
Either way, Herzlich hopes the interest is there — from the Patriots and the NFL's other 31 teams.
"It's been a whirlwind," Herzlich said. "I don't think the Patriots have been a specific team that I've talked to, but hopefully I'll be able to talk to all 32 in the next month or so."