New England Patriots 2015 NFL Draft and Beyond

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Oct 11, 2014; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks tight end AJ Derby (11) pushes off of Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Geno Smith (24) scoring a touchdown on the play at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Alabama defeated Arkansas 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

6th Round (202nd Overall, Via CLE) – AJ Derby (TE, Arkansas)


Derby is an intriguing prospect with just one year of experience at tight end. He played linebacker and quarterback before converting to tight end. He started just seven games but has ideal size at six-foot-four and 255 pounds. His athleticism and speed leap off the tape and his understanding of defenses and the passing game should help his development.


2015 Role:

Derby is likely to be playing only on the practice squad.


2016 and Beyond:

Derby will have to make a mark at practice on the scout team to force his way on the roster. Head coach Bill Belichick loves projects, but the player has to have the drive to succeed. If Derby puts in the work, he could buck the trend of sixth round draft picks who never make the roster and turn into a contributor.


Similar pick in the past:

The Patriots had great luck drafting a quarterback and moving him to a receiving position when they picked Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman in the seventh round in 2009. No one expects Derby to develop into a star like Edelman, but Derby shares traits like intelligence, athleticism, and drive.