Brandon Lawrence

Patriots Bleed Rutgers Scarlet

Created on Apr. 30, 2013 10:13 PM EST

Greg Schiano left the Rutgers football program after the 2011 season to be the head coach in Tampa Bay. But he still mentored his former wards. Bill Belichick, a close friend of Schiano's, has maintained the Rutgers connection — albeit with the Patriots.

New England used three of its seven draft picks on Rutgers players, and offered another a rookie free agent contract.

Logan Ryan, a defensive back the Patriots drafted in the third round on Friday night who played at Rutgers, told reporters during his post-draft conference call that the Rutgers football program not only prepares players to perform at a high level on the field, but to act professionally off the field as well.

“That’s something that we’re taught, and that’s something I’m going to bring to the Patriots organization,” Ryan said during the conference, reported by ESPNBoston.

Schiano’s program molded some pretty strong athletes spread around the league as well, not just within the Patriots organization (Ray Rice is a perfect example).

Belichick surprisingly took Devin McCourty with the 27th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft.

McCourty’s rookie year was spectacular. But since 2010, his play has been declining. And in 2012, McCourty underwent a position change from corner to free safety. That is his projected position for the upcoming season.

Last April, the Patriots offered Justin Francis out of Rutgers an undrafted free agent deal. Francis took advantage of the opportunity, recording three sacks in 10 games while playing both on the interior and exterior of the defensive line.

This year, along with Ryan, safety Duron Harmon was selected in the third round. Harmon was seen as a reach by some analysts, but Belichick and the Patriots need defensive back help. It is yet to be seen whether Harmon will be able to see defensive time on the field or just special teams work.

With the final Patriots selection in the seventh round, the team took undersized (6-foot-1, 240 pounds) linebacker Steve Beauharnais — another Rutgers man. And Brandon Jones was the undrafted corner the team signed to a free agent deal.

Belichick addressed the media after the culmination of the draft Saturday and said that already a number of players in the Patriots organization have commented on Ryan and Harmon.

It’s becoming clear that Belichick marches to his own drummer. He wants smart football players who have positive personal characteristics and fall into his system flawlessly. Schiano built a program that Belichick respected. He’s trying to make these Rutgers players’ transitions to the NFL as smooth as possible.

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