Coach Belichick just had a press conference to summarize the second day of the NFL Draft. Here are some highlights:
Ras-I Dowling is a good tackler, a special teams player, and he played a lot of the looks the Patriots use in their defense. Belichick says that he has the size to be used as a safety on certain plays, but he'll initially be used at cornerback. Dowling did not play inside and played left cornerback, which is Devin McCourty's position (perhaps McCourty will be asked to learn the opposite side of the field). Dowling will help in the coverage unit on special teams and as a blocker.
Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley:
Both players will be expected to compete for their position. They will learn from the coaches and veterans, and be ready to play. Vereen and Ridley are very different players and both were very productive in college. Ridley had more success this past year, but both were successful in the running and passing game. Ridley gained the tough yards and is the more physical running back. Vereen is more elusive and will be asked to run in space. Vereen also has very good hands. Both will be expected to help in kicking game, with Vereen in the return game and Ridley as a blocker.
Belichick believed it was important to address the position due to the age of the players. Drafting a couple of young guys will provide competiton for the running back position.
Belichick alluded to the fact that Mallett was far beyond everyone else on their draft board, which is why they drafted him. Taking a top quarterback prospect in the first round creates tension as a sense of replacement sets in, but taking Mallett (their top QB prospect in the whole draft) in the third allows him to develop with fewer expectations. The Patriots will probably go with 3 quarterbacks on the roster next year as Mallett competes with Hoyer.
Belichick really enjoyed his conversations with Mallett and called him "a great kid to talk to." He said that they would talk football and work him hard, but they couldn't wear him out. Belichick praises his great football IQ and his eagerness to learn. He says that Mallett loves to watch film and learn from the coaches and veterans. He grew up in a football family and, to paraphrase Belichik, "you either get sick of it, or you love it." Mallett loves it. "He loves football." He possesses a thirst for knowledge of football and his position and Belichick believes that he'll have the opportunity to receive knowledge in New England.
Maybe there will be direct quotes, but those are the notes I took from the conference.