2015 NFL Draft: New England Patriots Select TE A.J. Derby


With 202nd pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots nabbed tight end A.J. Derby. The second Arkansas product taken by the Patriots on Day 3 after the selection of defensive end Trey Flowers, Derby adds depth and competition to the Patriots’ tight end position.

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At 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, Derby is another big-man tight end. He does good things after the catch, but the problem will be getting the ball in Derby’s hands; he has only one year of tight end experience, so the adjustment to the NFL could be a lot for the rookie to handle.

While raw, the potential is there for Derby to emerge as a role player in the Patriots’ offense. He will have an uphill battle in camp to make the team, however. Scott Chandler, Tim Wright, and Michael Hoomanawanui aren’t going to budge easily for the spots behind Rob Gronkowski on the depth chart.

Of course, the Patriots wouldn’t have chosen Derby from the remaining tight ends in the 2015 NFL Draft if he wasn’t versatile. He has experience as both a quarterback and a linebacker, so if the injury bug hits especially hard, Derby can serve as an emergency fill-in.

An interesting side note that may have contributed to Derby getting drafted by the Patriots: his dad played briefly for Bill Belichick in Cleveland.

This is what the sixth round is all about. Taking a flyer on an athletic tight end who certainly sticks out from the pack, for better or for worse. However you want to slice it, Derby will be an interesting guy to keep an eye on this summer.