Help all around
New England selects versatile defensive lineman Seymour
Updated: Saturday April 21, 2001 11:32 PM
FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- Richard Seymour has the versatility to rush the passer and stop the run. The New England Patriots drafted him because they don't do either particularly well.
They chose the 299-pound senior from Georgia with the sixth pick Saturday, hoping he can start as a rookie for a 5-11 team that lost one of its best performers, Chad Eaton, from a mediocre defensive line.
But coach Bill Belichick isn't pressuring Seymour to strike fear in the hearts of quarterbacks, who were sacked just 29 times by the Patriots last year. Only six of the 31 NFL teams had fewer sacks and only 10 allowed fewer rushing yards.
"He's not a miracle worker," Belichick said. "He's going to have to come in and establish a role for himself like everybody else does."
In the second round, the Patriots chose Purdue offensive tackle Matt Light, who protected Drew Brees, picked Saturday by San Diego as the second quarterback in the draft.
"I feel pretty comfortable in my pass blocking," Light said. "Then again, we also ran the ball at times and had success at it."
The Patriots originally traded the eighth pick of the second round for the 19th choice in that round and the 17th in the fourth. They then sent that second-round pick to Detroit for the 17th in that round, and also gave the Lions the 10th pick of the sixth round.
They also had a third-round choice, the 69th overall. They have seven picks in the last four rounds scheduled for Sunday.
The Patriots traded their second-round pick, the 39th overall, for two of Pittsburgh's picks -- a second-rounder (the 50th) and a fourth-rounder (the 112th)
They also had a third-round choice, the 69th overall. They have eight picks in the last four rounds scheduled for Sunday.
Seymour could contribute immediately to a defense that lost free-agent tackle Eaton to Seattle and has no guaranteed starter at that spot. Eaton was the Patriots' fifth leading tackler and had 2 1/2 sacks.
Seymour has the experience of four college seasons in which he remained relatively injury free. He made 9 1/2 sacks and 223 tackles in his career with most of his games coming in the tough Southeastern Conference.
"I definitely think I'm still developing at this point. I'm only 21 years old," Seymour said. "My game is only getting better."
He was the third defensive lineman taken, behind Gerard Warren of Florida and Justin Smith of Missouri. The Patriots could have gone for the top wide receiver, David Terrell of Michigan, or the second offensive tackle, Kenyatta Walker of Florida.
But the Patriots already have wide receivers Terry Glenn and Troy Brown, who each had more than 70 catches last year. And last year they drafted two tackles who could start next season -- Adrian Klemm in the second round and Greg Robinson-Randall in the fourth.
They're less established at defensive tackle with Brandon Mitchell, Garrett Johnson and Chuck Osborne. Henry Thomas, released in a salary-cap move, may be re-signed.
"We just felt [Seymour] would be the best fit for us," Belichick said. "In the end, I think it was a pretty easy choice."
Terrell went to Chicago with the eighth pick and Walker was taken by Tampa Bay with the 14th. Belichick liked them, too, he just liked Seymour better.
"It's not like only falling in love with one guy," he said. "It's not like picking a wife."
After their 15-minute period for making a choice began, the Patriots received phone calls about trading the pick, but Belichick was worried about another team taking Seymour if the deal was made.
"You have to expect the worst-case scenario," Belichick said.
Seymour was not among the 20 draft prospects brought to Foxboro for an interview but did talk with Patriots coaches in February at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
"I really felt at home with the coaches and the rest of the staff," he said. "I just had that gut feeling" the Patriots would take him.
At Georgia, Seymour played next to another outstanding tackle, Marcus Stroud, drafted 13th by Jacksonville.
Seymour had 35 quarterback pressures and made 34 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in 41 games playing tackle and end.
"He shows the versatility to do that, which, frankly, not a lot of guys do," Belichick said. "He's one of the hardest workers on their team, a very smart guy.
"He's no sleeper in the draft. I think everybody knew about him."