In selecting South Florida linebacker Tyrone McKenzie with the 97th overall selection, the Patriots landed a player with one of the most inspirational stories in the draft.
McKenzie played at three colleges, and after his mother was left unable to work by injuries suffered in an accident, he left school and was working from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. at a Hampton Inn to support her and his three sisters.
From a pure football standpoint, McKenzie (6-1, 243) projects to inside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 scheme. The team has starters Tedy Bruschi (contract through 2009) and Jerod Mayo (2012) returning, with Gary Guyton (2009) the top backup. Bo Ruud, a 2008 sixth-round pick who spent all of last year on season-ending injured reserve, is also in the mix.
With the selection of McKenzie, the Patriots are likely thinking about Bruschi nearing the end of his career and developing a possible youngster to assume that spot -- or compete with Guyton and Ruud for that spot -- in the future.