FOXBORO, Mass. — Rookies seldom have an easy go of it in the NFL, but Dominique Easley might have set himself up for even more grief.
Minutes after he was selected with the 29th pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Easley said he couldn’t wait to hit the field with his New England Patriots teammates — including Vince Wilfork, the “old guy” who might share time or line up next to him on defense.
“It’s going to be a great experience,” Easley said. “You get to learn from an old guy, a veteran, that’s real good. His play speaks for itself, so it’s going to be real exciting to learn from him.”
Wilfork, 32, will make Easley pay for calling him “old,” but the two defensive tackles could give the Patriots a solid veteran-rookie combination on their line. Patriots coach Bill Belichick used the word “disruptive” several times to describe the 6-foot-2, 288-pounder out of Florida.
Wilfork, who is recovering from a torn Achilles, seemed to be a fan of the Patriots’ pick.
I'm lovin this pick !!—
Vince Wilfork (@wilfork75) May 09, 2014
Like Wilfork, though, Easley comes in with concerns about his health. The 22-year-old is a high-upside, high-risk prospect, having suffered two torn ACLs at Florida. The first occurred in 2010, and the second came in a workout last September, costing him the final nine games of the season. He was deemed 80 percent healed at his pro day in April, however, and is expected to be healthy by the beginning of the season.
“When he gets up here, we’ll work with him, and we’ll work it out, just like everybody else,” Belichick said. “We think he’ll be all right.”
The Patriots visited with Easley during a workout with Florida players, although Easley was unable to work out at the time, Belichick said. Neither Belichick nor Easley had much to say about the Staten Island native’s injury history Thursday.
“I’m healthy, and I’m just ready to get up there and do whatever Coach Belichick needs me to do,” Easley said. “(The injury) was discussed somewhat, but I’m really just excited to be a Patriot now and eager to get up there, get to work and learn the system.”
When he suffered the second torn ligament last fall, Easley said his mindset was simple.
“Just to get back healthy,” Easley said. “I just wanted to get healthy, so I could really live my dream and get this phone call, which I did. Now, I’m just excited to get up there and get to work.”
Photo via Facebook/New England Patriots