In a draft that saw the Patriots select a quarterback in the first round, New England closed it by selecting a wide receiver.
With their seventh-round pick, the Patriots drafted UCF receiver Tre Nixon, potentially giving Cam Newton or rookie quarterback Mac Jones a receiver to work with.
Here are three things to know about Nixon.
Nixon played at Ole Miss before transferring to UCF, where he shined.
In high school, Nixon was a highly-touted recruit, ranking as a top 200 prospect of the 2016 recruiting class by 247 Sports. The Florida native received several scholarship offers from schools in power conferences before deciding to head to Ole Miss.
At Ole Miss, Nixon struggled to make much of an impact. After redshirting the 2016 season, Nixon caught just one pass during the 2017 season. When Ole Miss was hit sanctions by the NCAA, Nixon decided to move on and transferred to UCF.
Nixon made an impact immediately at UCF. He finished third on the team in receptions (40), receiving yards (562), and receiving touchdowns (four) en route to the team’s undefeated regular season in 2018. He improved in 2019, catching 49 passes for 830 yards and seven touchdowns, which were all second on his team trailing now Bills receiver Gabriel Davis.
He suffered a broken left collarbone this past season.
The 2020 season looked to be a promising one for Nixon. With Davis’s departure, Nixon would now be UCF’s top receiver and after a strong 2019 season, he was placed on the 2020 Biletnikoff Award Watch List.
But then the COVID-19 pandemic came, delaying the start of the season by a few weeks. Then, in UCF’s season-opener against Georgia Tech, Nixon broke his left collarbone during a play in which he caught a touchdown pass.
“It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever gone through in my life,” Nixon told the Orland Sentinel of the injury. “I feel like the only thing that could compare to it was losing my grandma when I was 12 or 13. It was the same type of thing.”
The injury kept Nixon out for UCF’s next six games, but he said he learned a valuable lesson from it.
“Going through that experience taught me how much I do love football,” Nixon said. “It taught me about perseverance. It taught me what I must do to get my body back. How I must get my body better. I had to build my body from the ground up.”
Nixon returned for UCF’s final three games of the season. He finished the year with 19 catches for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
Nixon models his game after several top receivers.
When speaking to reporters after getting selected by the Patriots, Nixon described himself as a “very versatile receiver.”
“I like to watch a lot of receivers,” Nixon said on which players he looks up to. “I feel like I can pick up a lot of things from many different guys like Doug Baldwin, Adam Thielen, DeAndre Hopkins, Devante Adams. I like to watch a lot of different receivers because you can always find something you can implement into your game whether it’s a release, how you run a certain route, a certain way they caught the ball or certain drills. I just love watching film and being a sponge to the game of football. You can always learn and learn more.”
Draft experts believe that as a late-round pick, Nixon has some upside to potentially be a No. 3 receiver for a team. Nixon, who stands at 6-feet and weighs 187 pounds, ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at his pro day, which NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein believes could make him a good slot receiver and outside receiver.
Zierlein compares Nixon to Panthers receiver Robby Anderson due to his route-running ability on all three levels.
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