The 3 most impressive defensive rookies through Patriots' OTAs and minicamp

Utah v Oregon
Utah v Oregon / Ali Gradischer/GettyImages
4 of 4

Marte Mapu - linebacker

There's not always a lot of excitement surrounding a third-round pick across the league, but Marte Mapu has continued to pique the interest of New England media and fans primarily due to his vast array of experience in football.

That, of course, is also a favorite trait of Belichick, who is known for loving a position-less player.

Although he was drafted as a linebacker, Mapu has lined up at almost every position on the defense during his college career. And he was able to show off his versatility during OTAs earlier this month.

Belichick put him to the test early, having him move all over the field during one practice in particular, and although he was wearing a non-contact jersey, his athleticism also stood out. So much so several of his teammates had to share their thoughts on what they've seen from Mapu so far.

Fellow defenseman Jabrill Peppers had the most to say after minicamp ended earlier this week, going into specific details about what Mapu can bring to the Patriots in the future.

"Man, he's a smart dude. Obviously his physical traits speak for itself. But he's a smart, smart dude. Always asking questions. You can tell he wants to understand not just what his job is but what the whole defense is. When you understand conceptually that way, it allows you to play faster and make more plays. He's a young guy, but he's out there communicating already. He's shown the ability to play 'backer and safety. I'm excited for his potential. As far as his IQ and his instincts, it's a perfect blend of both. Obviously he's still raw, he's still young. He has to pick his spots. But that's what OTAs are for. We ain't playing a game until September. We got a lot of time to get where we need to be. We just need to keep at it."

Because of his positional flexibility and standout performances already in mid-June, it seems fair to say Mapu is likely a roster lock come September.