Marte Mapu, a safety from Sacramento State, was selected by the New England Patriots with the third-round 76th overall choice.
Because of a ruptured pectoral muscle sustained in February while bench pressing, Mapu missed the majority of the pre-draft cycle. The 23-year-old stated he expects to be prepared for training camp during an opening Zoom call with the New England media on Friday despite the need for surgery due to the injury.
What did Marte Mapu say?
After a six-year stint with the Hornets, Mapu joins the squad in New England as their third consecutive defense pick. Early in his career, he mostly played a rotating role, but following the postponement of the 2020 season, he assumed the position of starter.
Marte to NE.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) April 29, 2023
“I will be working with the team. Right now, it’s feeling good,” Mapu told reporters. “I’ll be ready by training camp at the latest. But right now, I’m feeling good. We’ll see what that process looks like with the team. But I know I’ll be healthy, and when I’m healthy, I’m ready to go.”
The groundwork was established for Mapu to be selected highly in the NFL draft by starting his next 25 games. Over that time, while playing a hybrid safety/linebacker position, he made 141 tackles and six interceptions. The 6′ 3″, 221-pound player received the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year award for his efforts in 2022.
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Despite the injury concern, his performance led the Patriots to select him on Day 2 of the draft. And that’s not as big of a deal as it might seem, as head coach Bill Belichick noted.
“We’ll know a little bit more when he gets in here and starts working,” Belichick said about the youngster’s injury status. “We’ve had other players — Marcus Jones last year, for example, wasn’t able to do everything, but was ready to participate in training camp.”