FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk strode to the podium, unbuttoned his jacket to reveal a No. 12 jersey and then name-dropped the three-time Super Bowl MVP whose reputation has been sullied by the scandal known as “Deflategate.”
“The New England Patriots AND Tom Brady select …,” Falk said before announcing the pick of North Carolina State offensive lineman Joe Thuney at No. 78.
The fans at draft headquarters in Chicago booed, but Faulk had made his point: The Patriots aren’t quite willing to stop fighting the NFL and the perception around the country that Brady cheated.
“That’s why Kevin Faulk is a potential member of the Patriots hall of fame,” said Nick Caserio, the team’s director of player personnel. “We all love Kevin Faulk.”
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) April 30, 2016
Having lost their first round pick as part of their Deflategate punishment, the Patriots picked up four players on the second day of the NFL draft on Friday — including a quarterback who could serve as a backup while Brady serves a four-game suspension.
North Carolina State’s Jacoby Brissett, who was taken No. 91 overall, would be standing by in case No. 2 quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is injured. Asked if Brady’s status made the position a more urgent priority, Caserio said the team wanted a third quarterback no matter what.
“We only had two on the team,” he said. “We were definitely going to add a third quarterback, no matter how we did it.”
The NFL fined the Patriots $1 million and docked the team two draft picks, and Brady was suspended four games for what the league said was a scheme to illegally deflate the footballs used in the 2015 AFC championship game. Brady appealed within the league and then the federal courts; this week, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled that Commissioner Roger Goodell was within his powers to suspend Brady.
Without a pick in the first round, the Patriots were quiet on the first day of the draft on Thursday, although as it began the team posted a picture of Brady’s jersey on Instagram and made it the avatar for its Facebook and Twitter accounts. The draft proceeded with only 31 picks on the first day, skipping New England at what would have been No. 29. (Arizona, which would have had the 30th overall pick, took Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive lineman from Mississippi.)
When the Patriots finally got around to making their first pick at No. 60 overall, they selected defensive back Cyrus Jones from Alabama, a 5-foot-10, 196-pound cornerback who also returned punts for the Crimson Tide. The Patriots had been scheduled to pick 61st as well but traded that pick to the New Orleans Saints.
After taking Thuney, a North Carolina State offensive lineman who did not allow a sack in an Atlantic Coast Conference game during his entire senior year, the Patriots grabbed Brissett, the quarterback he was protecting. With its final pick on the second day, 96th overall, New England selected Nebraska defensive lineman Vincent Valentine.
New England has eight picks on the final day, including five in the sixth round.
AP NFL websites: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL