New England Patriots Links 5/06/11 - Patriots Drafted A Leader (and a big, pounding blocker) In TE Lee Smith

Christopher Price profiles 'throwback' TE Lee Smith, taken in the fifth round of the draft.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick referred to him as an "outstanding blocker." Phil Ratliff, Smith’s position coach at Marshall, added to that on Thursday, calling him a "throwback" who was "far and away the most respected player on the team because of how hard he practices and how hard he plays."

Ratliff knows something about the sort of player that appeals to the Patriots -- while as a player at Marshall, he was a college teammate of eventual New England football legend Troy Brown. "Lee is the kind of player the Patriots draft -- a quality person who takes to system and does whatever it takes to succeed," Ratliff said. "New England is getting another leader -- he’s a natural-born leader."

 "A lot of people don’t realize he had a good tight end that played in front of him — this past year was the first year he really had a chance to thrive in the passing game," Ratliff said. "At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, so a lot of people don’t realize how good he in the passing game. When you think of Lee Smith, you think of a big, pounding blocker. That’s what he is, but he has capability in the vertical passing game. He’s got soft hands and a knack for getting open -- and he will get better."

"All I can tell you is this -- people can all the negative things they want about him, but Lee, when he came to us, he was a guy who was a leader," Ratliff said. "He was a guy who got it. It was unbelievable. When he got into our system, he got structure, and just took off from there. "What happened in the past is in the past. He’s gone beyond that. He’s the most mature guy I have ever coached. He has a family and kids -- all that stuff is in the past. It’s so irrelevant to what he is now. It really is."

"I will tell you one thing -- they have a very impressive tight end group," Ratliff said of New England. "[But] there’s no challenge for him that’s too big. He won’t back down. Those guys are all really good players, but whatever is asked of Lee, he’ll roll with it. He’ll do whatever he needs to do, and take care of business. That’s just how he is."

Ryan Osborne (TCU Daily Skiff) Patriots 7th-round draft pick Malcolm Williams is packing his bags for the NFL after unlikely football journey.

"I'm living in a dream right now," said Williams, who was drafted by the New England Patriots with the 219th overall pick in the seventh round of the NFL Draft Saturday afternoon. "It's the best thing that can happen to me."

Williams offered a simple, timeless phrase to sum up his journey from airport bag collector to NFL draftee.

"Hard work pays off," Williams said. "That's all you can really say."

TEAM TALK

  • The New England Patriots 2011 Draft: Notes, stats and trends from the team.
  • PFW in Progress - 5/05/11: This edition continues to recap the 2011 NFL Draft. (2 hour program.)

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