FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have received notable contributions from their rookie class this season, from first-round pick Malcom Brown to undrafted center David Andrews (11 starts).
On Tuesday, Bill Belichick shared how pleased he's been with how the class as a whole has integrated itself into the team culture this year.
"Overall, it’s been a real good group. Those guys have really come in and done everything we’ve asked them to do. We’ve had a lot of groups, had a lot of players fall into this category, but I would say as a total group, these guys have been as good -- if not better -- than any group we’ve had off the field in terms of their preparation, doing what they’re asked to do, doing what they’ve been told to do, improving, paying attention to the little things, trying to do the right thing for the team, all those things," he said.
"I mean, each individual player’s characteristics and performance, those are all kind of separate discussions, although I think overall we’ve gotten contributions from that group, but each one individually has a little different dynamic. But as a total group and the chemistry that they have with each other and with the team has been very good. It’s been great; it's been great [repeating himself]."
One of those rookies, guard Shaq Mason (fourth round, Georgia Tech, 131st overall), was also lauded by Belichick.
"He’s probably one of the most athletic offensive linemen I’ve coached," said Belichick, now in his 41st NFL season. "He would certainly be in that upper category and upper part of that conversation. He runs well. He’s got very good balance and short-space quickness and is light on his feet. Fundamentally and technique-wise there are a lot of things that he still needs to work on and Shaq has improved a lot, but just in terms of athleticism, balance, speed, quickness, he’s very good, very, very talented, and he’s got good power and playing strength and explosion, too."