New England Steals 2021 Divison II Defensive Player Of The Year In Sixth Round

May 9, 2022
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It is no secret that NFL loves to draft players from big-time programs, such as Alabama and Georgia, and New England is no different. However, this doesn’t mean that NFL talent can’t come from other sources.

Sam Roberts very well could be one of those talents. He is truly a monster standing at 6-4 and 287 pounds. He could be a hidden gem because he played college for Northwest Missouri State Bearcats.

What Did New England Get In Sam Roberts

Sam Roberts was the main cog in the Bearcats’ front seven, destroying interior lineman left and right.

In 2021 he recorded 61 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, and six and a half sacks which led the Bearcats to the fourth-best division two defensive unit. His impact and production on the field also aided him in receiving the Cliff Harris award which is given to the best defensive player in NCAA II. This award was also given to another recent Patriot in Kyle Dugger.

Roberts is a force in the run game, he has explosive power off the snap. Often he bullrushes his assignment back three or four yards causing havoc in the backfield. In his career, Roberts has tallied 42 tackles for a loss. He is constantly making plays and moving the line of scrimmage.

Where Does Roberts Fit In New England

His 2021 season got him invitations to the Hula Bowl and the East vs West Shrine Bowl, where he finally got to show his stuff against the “top-tier” talent. This is what Shrine Bowl Director Eric Galko had to say about Roberts

“The thing that jumped out with Sam is he’s a big dude (6-5, 293 pounds),” Galko said. “He’s super wide. … The two best things he’ll do right away as a Patriots player are one, his ability to play wide and win initially with good pad level off the snap allows him a step or two on the offensive linemen and (is) really effective against especially zone (blocking), but just overall in the run-defending game. He can eat up a zone.” (NESN.com)

This is coming from a personnel member who has seen a bunch of talent pass through the Shrine Bowl. Roberts must’ve popped in practices and drills, when you watch his tape he certainly has no issues getting off the line. Byron Cowart and Deatrich Wise are likely candidates to compete with Roberts for snaps but quite frankly I think Sam will beat him out and push for an immediate role on first and second downs.

If He can flourish within the system and grow next to Christian Barmore, New England shouldn’t have many more issues in holding the line of scrimmage. In fact, they could be an incredibly destructive duo if Roberts can catch on. New England’s defense is at its best when it has an interior pressure collapsing the pocket and controlling the run game.

I didn’t even mention that he had five field goal blocks in 50 games played, that’s at least one game-changing play in every ten. So even if he cant come in and immediately play on run downs, he can definitely start on special teams and possibly make an impact there.

Where Does Sam Roberts Need To Improve?

His technique is a downside to his game currently, he has heavy hands and a strong first move but if he gets redirected first try he has a difficult time working without his brute strength. His pass-rush plan is based on winning off of the jump, he doesn’t have multiple moves to throw at linemen yet.

In the run game, he can sometimes over pursue and miss a tackle but he always tries to fight his way back into the play. The main issue is seeing how he can handle premium NFL talent that is his size and have way better technique.

The is a lot of work to be done with Sam Roberts but he has the size and motor to play in this league if New England can properly develop him, he could be a real impactful player. Matt Judon and Christian Barmore would be thrilled if he does turn into that type of playmaker.

NFL Success In From Lower Division

One of the more recent divisions two players to thrive in the NFL is another Patriot, Kyle Dugger was selected in the second round out of Lenior-Rhyne. Now he has turned into a young building block for a team that is trying to rebuild. He could be a leader on the team as soon as this year.

If Sam Roberts could make even half the impact Dugger has made it would be an incredible value in the sixth round. Considering they both won the Cliff Harris award he has a solid chance too.

Some other notable division two standouts were Shannon Sharpe, Robert Mathis, and another Patriot in Malcolm Butler. However, not every player can handle the jump up in competition and it is still yet to be seen if Roberts can.

Conclusion

Sixth-round picks are never a lock for the roster, so this article could mean nothing come September but think this kid can really play. I don’t think it was the talent gap, he just popped way too much for it to be that every guard he played against was just awful.

Sam Roberts should have a great chance to make the roster based on his special team abilities alone. hopefully, he can turn into a productive role player for New England.

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