Jerod Mayo was determined to help his mother give their yard a good spring cleaning. Any other Saturday afternoon, he might have gotten the job done. But after one bag on April 26, he was spent.
It was, after all, the first day of the 2008 NFL Draft, and Mayo was anxiously waiting to hear his name called. He retreated to his porch, sat down and began thinking. That's when the phone rang.
It was Bill Belichick.
"I definitely was surprised," said Mayo, a 6-1, 240-pound linebacker from the University of Tennessee.
Rarely in the Belichick era here in New England has the team drafted a player at his position, let alone in the first round. Yet, Mayo said he had a feeling he might end up with the Patriots, one of 11 teams that hosted him prior to the draft.
"I had a great visit when I came down there," Mayo recalled. "The coaches and I sat down and talked football for a long time ... I felt like we clicked."
"He is a pretty versatile player, did a lot of things down at Tennessee. Played inside, played outside played in sub defense, played in the kicking game," Belichick explained shortly after the pick was announced.
Mayo played all three linebacker spots in a 4-3 defense during his time at Tennessee and projects as a versatile inside linebacker in the Patriots 3-4 scheme.
"Wherever coach wants to put me, that's where I'm willing to play," Mayo declared. "The 3-4 defense, those guys (in New England) put a lot of pressure on offenses and that's the type of defense that I like to play in."
Belichick seems to believe his newest linebacker will be a quick learner of New England's complex system.
"He's very intelligent player, he's a good football player. He understands schemes and concepts, he runs the defense, makes the calls, makes adjustments and all those things. I think that he has a lot to offer."
"I feel the transition won't be a problem," Mayo predicted. "I can't help but to be good as long as I listen and take notes and learn from a great coach and a great coaching staff and great guys like Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi and all those guys. I'm just going to be like a sponge and try to take as much in as possible."
"I'm just excited, man, I just got drafted and I'm just excited. I'm pretty much speechless. I'm just overwhelmed and I'm ready to get to New England and play for a great coach and a great team."
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