As the 2022 NFL draft went into the depths of the sixth round, the New England Patriots went into the depths of Division II.
New England did so to take Northwest Missouri State defensive tackle Sam Roberts at No. 200 overall on Saturday afternoon.
Here’s an initial glimpse into why.
Cliff Harris Award winner
The Cliff Harris Award, presented to the nation’s top small-school defensive player, landed in the hands of Roberts following his final season at Northwest Missouri State. It’s the same honor Patriots safety Kyle Dugger secured at Lenoir-Rhyne before becoming the top pick in the organization’s 2020 draft class.
Harris amassed 18 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks across 13 games as a redshirt senior on the way to also becoming a second-team AP All-American and the 2021 MIAA Defensive Player of the Year.
The Bearcats’ defense conceded 12.1 points allowed per game and 223.6 yards allowed per game last fall after not taking the field the season prior due to Covid-19.
A presence in the backfield
New England’s run defense allowed 4.5 yards per carry last regular season.
Across Roberts’ 50 games and 38 starts in Maryville, he amassed 47 tackles for loss, which accumulated in 213 yards the other direction for opposing offenses.
Along the way came a total of 184 tackles and 18.5 sacks to go with a pair of forced fumbles and an interception. For a 6-foot-4, 293-pound defensive lineman who projects as an inside-out developmental prospect at the next level, Roberts clocked the 40-yard dash in a 5.1 seconds and a 10-yard split of 1.76 seconds at his pro day.
Lending a hand with five blocked kicks
Measuring in with 33 1/2-inch arms, Roberts had a hand in special teams during his time at Northwest Missouri State.
A total of five blocked kicks were the result. Those included a trio during the 2019 campaign as Roberts tied for No. 6 in the country.
The 24-year-old attended the Hula Bowl on the way to an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game. He now joins a group in New England that features Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore, Deatrich Wise Jr., Carl Davis, Daniel Ekuale, Byron Cowart, Henry Anderson and Bill Murray.
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