Patriots Use Sixth-Round Draft Pick On Small-School Defensive Lineman

The Patriots' latest draftee played at Northwest Missouri State


April 30

The Patriots’ eighth pick in the 2022 NFL Draft likely will be an unfamiliar name to most New England fans.

Bill Belichick’s club used the 200th overall pick to select Sam Roberts, a defensive lineman out of Division-II Northwest Missouri State.

Roberts, who measured in at 6-foot-5, 293 pounds at his pro day, was a highly productive three-year starter in college, racking up 47 tackles for loss and 18 1/2 sacks in 50 games (38 starts).

As a senior, Roberts won the Cliff Harris Award as the nation’s top defensive player from a non-Division I school. He also was a factor on special teams, blocking a total of five field goals and extra points.

Roberts does not have a draft profile on The Athletic’s Dane Brugler projected him as an undrafted free agent.

From Brugler’s draft guide:

After earning all-conference honors three consecutive years and sitting out the 2020 season, he had an All-American senior year and won the 2021 Cliff Harris Award, which is awarded to the top non-Division I defender. Roberts has a hulking build with massive shoulders and a pass rush predicated on power with his heavy hands, forceful rip moves and bully tactics. He has a strong upper half in the run game, but needs to refine his technique to leverage gaps. He blocked five kicks in college (three FGs, two PATs). Overall, Roberts? core stiffness will be easier to spot vs. NFL blockers, but he fires out of his stance with urgent power to fit in a rotation as a penetrating three-technique.

Based on his social media activity, it looks like Roberts has been a fan of the Patriots for quite a while:

The Patriots now have selected two Division-II players in the last three drafts. They used their top 2020 pick (No. 37 overall) on Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger, who quickly became an impact player at the NFL level.

New England also took two FCS players earlier in this draft, picking Chattanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange in Round 1 and South Dakota State running back Pierre Strong in Round 4.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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