FOXBOROUGH — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft introduced defensive tackle Dominique Easley as the team’s first-round pick on Monday.
For Easley, the excitement of being drafted by the Patriots still hasn’t worn off.
“I’ve been watching them for years, so it’s a blessing and it’s an honor,” Easley said. “I plan to do everything that they ask me to do, [and] try to do it to the best ability that I can.”
Easley arrived in Foxborough on Sunday afternoon, and had a rookie dinner with the rest of the Patriots’ 2014 draft class Sunday night. On Monday, it was right to the grind with physicals and a meeting with head coach Bill Belichick for all the rookies.
Belichick wasn’t shy about telling the rookies where they stand.
“We’re a little far behind,” Easley said of Belichick’s message to the rookies. “We’ve got work to do. Everybody wants to be great, so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Many of the draft’s top prospects go to sit in the green room at Radio City Music Hall to hear their name announced, walk across the stage, shake hands with commissioner Roger Goodell and get a nice photo op with a custom-made No. 1 jersey. Easley wasn’t one of the 30 invitees, but he prefers it that way.
“I didn’t really want to be around a lot of people,” Easley said of his decision to watch the first round from a hotel in New York with two of his childhood best friends. “It was a blessing, just to have those people that have been in my life and been through hard times with me around me when this happened.”
There have been some hard times for Easley over the years. He may have been drafted even higher than the 29th overall pick, but he tore his right ACL in late September during practice on a non-contact injury and missed most of the 2013 season.
Easley is still meeting with trainers and discussing a timetable for when he will be back on the field, but his goal is to get back “as soon as possible.”
He may not be ready to go when his teammates take the practice field, but he has a track record of recovering quickly. He tore his left ACL in November 2011, but he came back nine months later to start 11 games for the Gators in 2012.