April 27, 2003
Patriots Fill Many Needs On Day 2
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
The Patriots added three more defensive linemen, another cornerback, a quarterback, and yet another tight end on the final day of the 2003 NFL Draft.
Overall New England added six defensive players and four on the offensive side of the ball, and the end result solidifies what Belichick said he and his staff had said they would do prior to the offseason and that's adding speed and youth to his defense.
Belichick told the media on Saturday that the team "could use some younger defensive linemen to work with", and the team addressed that need on Sunday. They selected NT Dan Klecko (4th round pick out of Temple & son of former Jet Joe Klecko), DE Tully Banta-Cain (7th round pick out of California), and NT Ethan Kelley (7th round pick from Baylor). Add in Texas A&M's Ty Warren who was Saturday's first round selection and heading into training camp the Patriots will have four to try and fit into their defensive system.
New England also added CB Asante Samuel (4th round Central Florida), C Dan Koppen (5th round from Boston College), QB Kliff Kingsbury (6th round, Texas Tech), and TE Spencer Nead (7th round BYU) to their stable of draft choices on Sunday, bringing the Patriots final weekend total to 10 players in all.
With their first pick of the fourth round (117th overall) on day two of the draft, New England took the 5'11", 283-pound Klecko who was the Big East defensive player of the year in 2002. He finished the season with 68 tackles, 10 sacks and 23 tackles for a loss.
Klecko spent Saturday watching movies to keep his mind off the draft, and after not being selected on day one he was thrilled when the phone finally rang on Sunday.
"I was just so happy to finally get this weight off my back," Klecko told the media in a conference call on Sunday. "It was such a thrill. It really was."
Meanwhile Asante Samuel who the Patriots also used a fourth round selection on (120th overall) is 5'11", 185lbs and was considered by several draft experts to be one of the best cover men in the country. His coaching staff called him "the best cover corner on the squad."
Samuel was an All-Mid-American Conference first-team selection after the 2002 season, and started all year at weakside cornerback, recording 48 tackles (42 solos) with 3 stops for losses of 5 yards. He deflected a team-high 15 passes and also led the squad with 4 interceptions for 26 return yards, including a game ending interception on the goal line to seal a 31-27 win over Western Michigan.
He also returned 19 punts for 233 yards (12.3 avg.).
The next player they selected was Boston College center Dan Koppen. Koppen was taken in the 5th round (164th overall) and started every game at center in 2002 for the Eagles, finishing as a finalist for the Rimington Award, which is an award given to the nation's premier center. Koppen gives them versatility as he can play both center and guard, and may be a good replacement for Grey Ruegamer who left as an unrestricted free agent when he signed with the Green Bay Packers earlier this month.
In the sixth round (201st overall) the Patriots selected quarterback Kliff Kingsbury from Texas Tech. With current back-up Damon Huard in the final year of his contract, the 6'3" 213-pound Kingsbury adds depth to the quarterback position which also has Rohan Davey who was selected in the fourth round of last year's draft. Kingsbury is the most decorated player in school history for the Red Raiders and is the owner of 39 school, 13 Big 12 Conference and seven NCAA Division I-A records. He's also only the third player in college football history to throw for over 10,000 yards, gain over 10,000 yards in total offense and complete over 1,000 passes in a career. He finished his career with 1,231 completions on 1,883 passes (65.4 percent) for 12,429 yards, 95 touchdowns and 40 interceptions in 43 games.
In the seventh round the Patriots added Brigham Young TE Spencer Nead (234th overall), California defensive end Tully Banta Cain (239th overall), and Baylor NT Ethan Kelley (243rd overall).
The 6'4" 259-pound Nead adds more depth and youth to the Pats stable of tight ends and is a likely replacement for Cam Cleeland who is now a member of the St. Louis Rams.
Meanwhile Banta-Cain is 6-2, 254-pounds and may have been one of the steals in this years draft (CLICK HERE FOR BIO). Many experts had him rated much higher, and although he's considered to be undersized for a defensive end he could find himself being used in pass rushing situations in New England's defense.
As for Kelley he was taken with the 243rd overall selection, and at 6'2", 315-pounds is considered to be a true nose tackle but most importantly is comfortable in the two-gap system.
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