NEW YORK — The New England Patriots couldn’t trade out of the No. 29 overall pick if they wanted to take Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, their top-rated player.
The Patriots didn’t allow much time to pass after they were on the clock Thursday night during the 2014 NFL draft, and Bill Belichick almost let the reason for that quick pick slip during his news conference at Gillette Stadium after the selection.
“I mean, there are always conversations,” Belichick said about whether or not the Patriots considered trading down. “But we felt good about Dominique, and there were a couple teams behind us that — we just didn’t want to take a chance on him.”
The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks also were in the mix to select Easley, a source said last week. The Patriots got lucky when the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys, who also were interested in the Florida defender, skipped Easley and chose not to trade down later in the first round to select him.
It’s rare for a player returning from two torn ACLs to drum up first-round interest from so many teams, but Easley is a rare player.
“I’ll say you don’t see a lot of guys who do that — who play, I mean, he lines up on the nose, he lines up on the guard, he lines up on the tackle, he lines up out wide at times,” Belichick said about Easley’s versatility. “You can see him playing all those spots.”
Watch the video above to hear more about the Patriots’ first-round pick.