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NFL draft results 2021: Why the Patriots selected Michigan LB Cameron McGrone

The Wolverines product landed in the fifth round at No. 177 overall.

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NCAA Football: Michigan at Illinois Michael Allio-USA TODAY Sports

As the page turned to the fifth round’s compensatory range, the New England Patriots turned to Cameron McGrone.

New England selected the Michigan middle linebacker with the No. 177 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft on Saturday afternoon.

Here’s an initial glimpse into why.

Junior started 15 games before November knee injury

McGrone suffered a season-ending ACL injury versus Rutgers in November before declaring for the draft as a junior. At 20 years old, McGrone finished his stay at Michigan having started 15 of 19 appearances.

There were 91 tackles, including 11 for loss, to go with four sacks and one forced fumble recorded along the way by McGrone. The former five-star recruit and Indiana native was twice an All-Big Ten honorable mention.

‘Running back-esque athleticism’

Recovery from knee surgery kept McGrone from participating in on-field drills at Michigan’s pro day. But Pro Football Focus described the 6-foot-1, 234-pound linebacker’s athleticism as “running back-esque” when chasing down opposing ground games.

McGrone missed zero tackles through his five starts last season, per PFF, posting eight run stops and a 74.0 grade against the run.

Three drafts bring four Wolverines to New England

Ann Arbor has become a frequent scouting stop for the Patriots. Chase Winovich got the call in the third round back in 2019. Fellow outside linebacker Josh Uche followed in the second round in 2020. And a day later last spring, so did offensive lineman Mike Onwenu in the sixth round.

Now arrives a fourth Michigan product in three New England draft classes. Winovich, Uche and McGrone all played along ex-Wolverines defensive coordinator Don Brown’s 4-3 front. There’s a level of familiarity there that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s war room has tapped into.


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