When Ernie Adams was given the honor of making the New England Patriots’ final selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, he added to the team’s wide receiver group. The retiring Patriots research director went to the board, and without any hesitation picked the card with “Tre Nixon, WR, UCF” on it.
Adams picking Nixon was fitting, because the two share a similar mindset.
While the long-time executive built an unrivaled knowledge of the game during his four decades in the NFL, the rookie is also well aware that studying is the way to get better. He said so himself during his media conference call after getting drafted 242nd overall earlier this month.
“I like to watch a lot of receivers. I feel like I can pick up a lot of things from many different guys like Doug Baldwin, Adam Thielen, DeAndre Hopkins, Devante Adams. I like to watch a lot of different receivers because you can always find something you can implement into your game whether it’s a release, how you run a certain route, a certain way they caught the ball or certain drills,” Nixon said.
“I just love watching film and being a sponge to the game of football. You can always learn and learn more.”
Before Adams hand-selected him in the seventh round of the draft, Nixon spent two years at Ole Miss and three more at the University of Central Florida. He appeared in a combined 40 games with 30 starts through his college career and caught 109 passes for 1,671 yards and 13 touchdowns. While he did put up some solid numbers, especially after his transfer in 2018, Nixon also missed some time as a senior due to a broken collarbone.
The injury in combination with some shortcomings from a size and athletic perspective eventually led him to enter the draft as a projected late-round selection or rookie free agent. Indeed, he had to wait until late on Day 3 to hear his name called.
“We were late into the draft and anything can happen,” he recalled. “A lot of people that were projected high even slipped to the later rounds. So at that point, I really had no idea. I had a couple of talks with the Patriots of course and I had a good feeling about them. But at that point in the draft I really had no clue. Ultimately, it caught me by surprise.”
While Ernie Adams was not participating in those talks — wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi was — they did give the Patriots a better understanding of Nixon as a player and person, and what he would theoretically bring to the table if drafted.
“Those calls were really just the basics, watching some film, talking some ball, getting to know each other,” he said. “That was a contact I had prior to the draft so leading up to it, I just really was focused on that anything can happen in that moment. I’m just lucky to be in the position that I am.”
So, what kind of player are the Patriots getting? According to the man himself one that can help in more than one way.
“I feel like I’m a very versatile receiver,” Nixon said. “I’m ready to get to the Patriots, put my head down and work; meet all my teammates and fit into that culture. I’m ready for it.”
When it comes to Nixon’s readiness, Ernie Adams apparently agreed. As a result, the two man will now forever be linked to one another.