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Bequette met their qualities

Arkansas defender can line up all over

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / April 28, 2012
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FOXBOROUGH - Jake Bequette was projected to be selected in the third or fourth round of the NFL draft, and Friday night he met those expectations as the Arkansas defensive end/linebacker became the fourth defensive player chosen by the Patriots in the first three rounds.

The 6-foot-4 1/2-inch, 274-pound Bequette was selected in the third round, 90th overall, following the Patriots’ two first-round choices Thursday night, Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower and Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, and Illinois defensive back Tavon Wilson, who was the team’s second-round pick.

Bequette is versatile enough to play along the defensive line or at outside linebacker, a quality the Patriots found attractive. Coach Bill Belichick will likely test his position flexibility during minicamp next month.

“Jake was a very productive guy in the SEC,’’ said Belichick. “I think Jake is good value for us.’’

Bequette said that he was more than ready to begin his next challenge in football.

“I was very excited, I wouldn’t say surprised,’’ said Bequette about the call from the Patriots, who had acquired the 90th pick earlier in the evening from the Packers. “I was anticipating getting selected at this time. I can’t tell you how excited I am when I got the phone call.’’

Bequette said he knew the Patriots were more than casually interested.

“They showed some early interest in me at the Senior Bowl and then at the Combine,’’ said Bequette, whose father, uncle, and grandfather also played for the Razorbacks. “And then I had a workout in Fayetteville with them and then I got a great feeling from them. I guess I really impressed them.’’

Bequette said that he is ready to play whatever position he is asked. “I feel very comfortable at both [end and linebacker],’’ he said. “I guess that’s the stock answer, but it’s true. I played the 4-3 end mostly in college, but I also stood up a little at outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl and the Combine. The more I did it, the more it grew on me. I can’t wait to see what the coaches have in store for me.’’

Bequette made it clear that he wants to contribute quickly. “I just want to do my part,’’ he said. “Whatever the coaches want me to do, I’m going to do it.’’

Bequette is acquainted with some of his new teammates.

“I played against Dont’a several times in college,’’ he said. “And Chandler was in my group at the Combine in Indianapolis. We got to meet a little bit. From what I understand, they’re great guys, great athletes, great players. I can’t wait to meet with them.’’

Bequette was asked about the atmosphere in the Arkansas program, which was recently put into turmoil after coach Bobby Petrino was fired for having an inappropriate relationship with a member of the athletic department.

“It’s been tough on everyone,’’ said Bequette. “But it’s been awesome to see how the players and who remains on the coaching staff have bonded together.’’

Bequette remains good friends with Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, a former college teammate. “We’re pretty close,’’ said Bequette. “We went through some battles together as team captains.

“I saw him last week at the spring game. He had nothing but great things to say about New England and the Patriots and I told him I would love to join you up there.’’

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.

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