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New England Patriots

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Through their first five picks of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Patriots have heavily focused on upgrading their front seven. That continued into the fifth round, when the team picked Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone – the third box defender taken by New England so far.

McGrone also continues a run on Michigan defenders by the Patriots. It’s the third year in a row Bill Belichick has added a defensive player on that side of the ball, after drafting Chase Winovich in 2019 and Josh Uche in 2020. McGrone is now the fourth Michigan player on the Patriots’ roster, joining Winovich, Unche, and guard Michael Onwenu.

At 6-foot-1, 234 pounds, McGrone is slightly smaller than the Patriots’ typical inside linebacker picks. However, he’ll make up for that with athleticism and play recognition ability.

In two years as a starter at Michigan, McGrone recorded 52 tackles, 11 for a loss, and three sacks over 16 games. However, a torn ACL held him to just five games in 2020. His slide in the draft was a result of that injury, and if the Patriots are confident in his medical workup and recovery, they likely view this pick as a great value selection.

In New England, McGrone will join a middle linebacker group highlighted by Dont’a Hightower. He’ll compete for a depth role behind Hightower with Ja’Whaun Bentley, Terez Hall, and free agent signing Raekwon McMillan. With Bentley entering the final year of his deal, and Hightower’s status seemingly year-to-year, there’s a chance for his role to grow over the course of his rookie contract.

For more NFL Draft coverage check out the Patriots Draft Hub 

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.