New Pats WR Familiar With Top Quarterbacks
Foxborough, Mass. — Josh Boyce is one lucky wide receiver.
As if playing with Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in high school and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Andy Dalton in college wasn’t enough, Boyce now will be on the receiving end of passes from Tom Brady after the New England Patriots selected the TCU receiver with the fifth pick of the fourth round yesterday.
“All three of them are great guys, great quarterbacks,” Boyce said on a conference call with members of the media. “I’ve been blessed to play with great quarterbacks my whole career.”
The Patriots acquired the 102nd overall pick to take Boyce in a trade Thursday with Minnesota, shipping their first-rounder — the 29th overall selection — to the Vikings for their second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round draft choices.
Boyce was the second receiver the Patriots took in their first five picks after taking Marshall’s Aaron Dobson with the 59th overall selection Friday.
They also selected Southern Mississippi linebacker Jamie Collins with the 52nd pick, Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan with the 83rd and Rutgers safety Duron Harmon with the 91st.
In the seventh round, the Patriots selected Illinois defensive end/outside linebacker Michael Buchanan in the seventh round.
The Patriots concluded their draft by taking inside linebacker Steve Beauharnais of Rutgers with the 235th overall pick and their second seventh-round selection.
Beauharnais had 83 tackles for the Scarlet Knights last season.
Clearly, New England’s pre-draft blueprint included acquiring more targets for Brady.
The Patriots this offseason added veterans Danny Amendola, Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins at wide receiver to help the two-time league MVP, who lost his top two pass catchers when free agent Wes Welker signed with the Denver Broncos and Brandon Lloyd was released.
Of the four wide receivers the Patriots have drafted in the past seven years, only 2012 seventh-rounder Jeremy Ebert remains. Their complex offense is difficult to master, as some have found out the hard way. Chad Johnson, then known as Chad Ochocinco, struggled learning it in 2011 when he had 15 catches in his only season with the team.
Boyce doesn’t seem concerned.
Despite running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at the NFL combine in February — doing so with a broken toe that he has since had surgery to repair — Boyce didn’t cite speed as his top strength.
“I’m really smart, so I can pick up things pretty quick,” he said. “I see a lot of things before they happen. So, I think my mind is working for me a lot of times.”
His hands, however, did most of the work early in his career.
Boyce played with Griffin III at Copperas Cove High School (Texas) and then spent his freshman season at TCU hauling in passes from Dalton.
New England is just another stop on his star-studded football tour.
“I’m excited just to be a part of an NFL team,” he said, “but it’s great talking about a great quarterback like Tom Brady.
“I’m excited, but it hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Boyce, who visited the Patriots but did not work out for them, earned All-Big 12 honorable mention and AP All-Big 12 honorable mention accolades last season after leading the Horned Frogs in every receiving category. He set a single-season school record with 66 catches last year, totaling 891 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished his three-year career with 22 touchdowns and 2,535 career receiving yards, the second-most in TCU history.
He already has a few connections in New England, too. He shares the same agent as Brady, worked out with Patriots receiver Julian Edelman and played one season at TCU with offensive lineman Marcus Cannon and defensive back Malcolm Williams.
“I was just happy they gave me a call and I get a chance to play for a great organization,” Boyce said.
The 6-foot-3 Dobson caught half of his 24 touchdowns as a junior at Marshall, the same school as former Patriots receivers Randy Moss and Troy Brown. His receptions increased in each of his four seasons from 15 to 44 to 49 to 57, and he didn’t drop any of the 92 passes thrown his way during his senior year.
Buchanan was named the Illini’s Outstanding defensive player last season after starting all 12 games and registering a team-best 41/2 sacks. He had 71/2 sacks as a junior.
In addition to the trio of Rutgers players taken this year, the Patriots drafted Devin McCourty in the first round in 2010 and shifted him from cornerback to safety last year, and also signed defensive end Justin Francis as a rookie free agent prior to last season.
Belichick’s son, Steve, attended the university, too.
■ The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded running back LeGarrette Blount to the Patriots in exchange for a seventh-round pick in this year’s NFL draft and Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps.
Demps was a silver medalist as part of the 4x100 relay team that finished second to Jamaica at the 2012 London Games. The former Florida running back was not selected in last year’s draft because he told teams he wanted to focus on his track career.
Blount was a 1,000-yard as a rookie with the Bucs after going undrafted in 2010. He led Tampa Bay in rushing again with 781 yards the following year, but lost his starting job after Doug Martin joined the team as a first-round draft pick in 2012.