Patriots pick QB for 9th time in Brady era during busy draft

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Add LSU’s Danny Etling to the list of quarterbacks drafted by the New England Patriots since they took Tom Brady 18 years ago.

As a seventh-round pick, odds favor him joining the previous eight who didn’t replace the franchise icon set to turn 41 this summer.

Still, director of player personnel Nick Caserio figured there was a decent chance the Patriots would add someone to Brady’s room during a busy draft that featured nine picks and 10 trades over three days a year after New England made just four selections.

”We knew we were going to add to a quarterback to our team at some point,” Caserio said after the draft ended Saturday. ”We think Danny has some decent traits and decent qualities to work with.”

New England used the draft’s final day to fill a handful of needs on both sides of the ball and gained three picks for next season, including a third-rounder from Detroit. As of the draft’s conclusion, New England holds 12 picks for 2019.

”Busy weekend and a lot of effort from a lot of people,” Caserio said. ”This is not a one-man show. This is a team effort and embodies what this program is about … putting the team first and doing your job.”

After making six trades during the first four rounds, the Patriots addressed the linebacker spot with their first two picks Saturday. New England took Purdue’s Ja’Whaun Bentley with the 143rd overall pick in the fifth round and Arizona State’s Christian Sam in the sixth (No. 178).

The Patriots then shifted to offense, taking Miami slot wide receiver Braxton Berrios at No. 210 in the sixth following by Etling with the 219th choice. New England also took Western Carolina defensive back Keion Crossen (No. 243) and Florida State tight end Ryan Izzo (No. 250) in the seventh round.

Etling will join Brady and backup Brian Hoyer on the depth chart after throwing for 2,463 yards, 16 touchdowns and two interceptions last season.

”I don’t have any expectations other than going in and learning as much information as you can and preparing for your chance when it comes,” Etling said. ”You just want to watch a guy who’s so great and know how he does it.”

Etling spent his freshman and sophomore years at Purdue and was a teammate and close friend of Bentley.

Here are some other things to know about the Patriots’ draft:

ANOTHER BOILERMAKER: A three-time captain at Purdue, Bentley follows a line of Purdue linebackers under coach Bill Belichick. Rosevelt Colvin played in New England for six seasons (2003-08) and Rob Ninkovich retired before the start of training camp last year after eight seasons.

REPUTATION DEFENDER: Sam tried to discount an NFL.com profile that suggested he doesn’t like to practice.

”Everyone has their own opinion and it’s something I can’t control, but I felt that wasn’t true,” Sam said. ”I’m a guy who takes pride in practice because I know how big it is to prepare so you can play at a high level.”

The Texas native played cornerback until his junior year of high school and was a special teams player for the Sun Devils.

IN THE SLOT: The loss of receiver Danny Amendola to AFC East-rival Miami goes beyond the departure of one of Brady’s most-trusted targets. It also created the need for a punt returner that was addressed with the drafting of Berrios. In four years at Miami, Berrios averaged 10.4 yards on punt returns.

”I absolutely love it. There’s something about it that gives you an adrenaline rush,” the 5-9, 183-pound Berrios said.

STILL NEED: Etling will compete for a roster spot, yet it would appear the Patriots are comfortable with the idea of finding Brady’s potential replacement next year, especially with two second-round picks and three third-rounders. Even with the additions of Bentley and Sam, New England figures to remain active for linebacker help.

More AP NFL: https://Hometeaminsider.com and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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