Patriots

Patriots select Dustin Woodard with 230th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft

After the months-long lead-up to the draft, Woodard had a hunch that the Patriots would draft him.

Dustin Woodard
Dustin Woodard joins the Patriots after four years at Memphis. Roger Steinman/AP Photo

The Patriots prioritized interior offensive lineman in the final rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft.

New England selected Memphis center Dustin Woodard with its seventh-round and final pick in the draft, making him the third offensive lineman the Patriots drafted Saturday.

After the months-long lead-up to the draft, Woodard had a hunch that the Patriots would draft him.

“I had a sense that they were interested in me,” Woodard said in a conference call. “I had a few FaceTime interviews with them going over a bunch of different stuff and always excited to hear from them. I was looking forward to today and it worked out for the best.”

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Woodard displayed some versatility during his four years at Memphis. In his first two years, he started at left guard. He shifted over to right guard for his junior season and started all 14 games at center for his senior season. His 2019 performance placed him on the Outland (best interior lineman in college football) and Rimington (best center in college football) watch lists.

Woodard said he likes the challenge of playing multiple positions.

“[My] senior year, they needed me to move over at center and I was more than happy and started a full season at center this past year,” Woodard said. “So, I was pretty versatile. I played every interior position on the offensive line and I was pretty excited about it.”

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During his four years at Memphis, Woodard reached the American Athletic Conference Championship Game three times. The Tigers failed to win it the first two times but broke through with a win over Cincinnati in 2019.

He said he thinks the experience he had in 2019 will help him succeed in the Patriots’ culture.

“I think this past year, everything changed,” Woodard said. “We grew as a team and we grew individually, as well. I thought it just worked out for the best. Overall, I do think it will help. It’s always great to win a championship, but when a team has great bonding and relationships, that really helps and that’s what helped us win a championship.”

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The odds are typically stacked against a seventh-round pick to even make an NFL team, let alone have success in the league.

Patriots center David Andrews, who went undrafted, was brought up as a reference as a player who’s had success despite the odds. Woodard said “it definitely helps” to see players like Andrews succeed and will help motivate him this upcoming season.

“I’m just ready to get to work and do what’s best for the team,” Woodard said. “I’ve always been a team player and wherever they need me, whatever I need to do, what kind of work I have to put in, I’m ready for it. I’m ready to step up at bat and do what I can to the best of my ability to help the team and help everybody, you know?”

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The veteran center Andrews announced Thursday that he’s on track to return for the 2020 season after missing all of last season due to blood clots. Woodard joins Andrews as the only centers on the Patriots’ roster.

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