Patriots sign rookie Michael Buchanan, one draft pick remains unsigned
The defensive end/linebacker appeared in 46 games with 32 starts for the Fighting Illini while amassing 161 tackles, 26 tackles for losses and 14 sacks during his collegiate career at Illinois.
Buchanan projected to develop into an early round pick at Illinois in 2012 after Whitney Mercilus joined the Houston Texans last season, but he slipped way down 2013 draft board and was ultimately being picked up by the Patriots in the 7th round with the 226th overall pick.
It appears that a series of off-field issues, such as a fight that resulted in Buchanan breaking his jaw last offseason and a DUI arrest followed by suspension by the team earlier in his collegiate career were in part responsible for his drop from the early rounds. A dip in production during the 2012 season also contributed to Buchanan’s fall in the draft.
Buchanan started all 12 games for the Fighting Illini and was named second-team All-Big Ten last season after registering 57 tackles and leading the team with 4.5 sacks.
But Buchanan did show some pass rushing skills while at Illinois and his draft spot won’t be of much Importance if the rookie is able to return to his 2011 form. The 22-year-old will add further depth at an already crowded position on the defensive line, with likes of Jermaine Cunningham, Justin Francis, Jake Bequette, Marcus Benard, and Jason Vega in the mix at the pass-rusher spots. Buchanan will continue to familiarize himself with the Patriots defensive scheme with the team kicking off this week’s OTA’s session on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Buchanan was the sixth draft pick to sign with the New England Patriots, leaving them with just one unsigned rookie from the 2013 draft class. Wide reliever Aaron Dobson, who was selected 59 overall pick in the second-round of last month’s draft, is the only rookie from the entire group who has not signed his contract with the Patriots. But with the rookie pay-scale slotted according to the collective bargaining agreement, there's not much to negotiate. So, keep a look out for the Patriots to get Dobson also in the fold very soon.