It was a strong NFL Draft for players who either played their high school or college ball in Massachusetts.
Two players from Boston College were selected, while UMass had one, and a handful of others who played high school ball in Massachusetts also heard their names called.
It has been a solid last few years for locals in the NFL Draft, and we feel it will continue to be in the coming years.
Here is a quick look at the players selected this past weekend.
Pat Freiermuth, tight end, Penn State, selected in the second round by the Pittsburgh Steelers: Freiermuth was a much-heralded recruit coming out of the Brooks School, and he lived up to that billing at Penn State. The Merrimac native is a big, powerful player at 6-foot-5, 258 pounds, and he used that size and athleticism to his advantage. A two-time captain, Freiermuth is a weapon in the passing game and force in the red zone, as he owns the PSU record for career touchdowns by a tight end (16). We foresee more success for Freiermuth in the league as he settles in with the Steelers.
Hunter Long, tight end, Boston College, selected in the third round by the Miami Dolphins: Long, a native of Exeter, NH, who prepped at Deerfield Academy, was another big target in the passing game at BC. At 6-5, 253, Long used his size well to box out defenders for contested balls. Although he is not exactly the fastest player at his position, he has tremendous hands and is hard to bring down once he gets going in the open field. It will be interesting to see how the Dolphins employ the use of Long and Mike Gesicki, who has started off well as a pure receiving tight end in Miami.
Ifeatu Melifonwu, defensive back, Syracuse, selected in the third round by the Detroit Lions: Melifonwu played his high school ball at Grafton, as did his older brother, Obi, who played at UConn and was also drafted as a defensive back. While his brother played primarily safety, Ifeatu spent the majority of his career at cornerback. At 6-3, 213 pounds, Melifonwu has the type of size many NFL teams covet to cover bigger receivers. Melifonwu also has the speed to run with smaller wideouts. It will be interesting to see how Melifonwu develops under the new coaching staff in Detroit.
Noah Gray, tight end, Duke, selected in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs: Gray played his high school ball at Leominster, where he got in some time at quarterback before setting in at his eventual college position. At 6-4, 240 pounds, Gray is not the biggest tight end you will find, but he is fast and is a natural pass-catcher. Gray is extremely durable, and missed just one game in his career. A team captain, Gray is a leader who was also a two-time Academic All-ACC selection. Gray is a consistent performer who will find a spot behind Travis Kelce at that position and find his way onto the field.
Isaiah McDuffie, linebacker, Boston College, selected in the sixth round by the Green Bay Packers: This Buffalo native simply became a tackling machine once he got on the field for the Eagles. In 2020, McDuffie led BC and was fifth in the nation with 107 tackles. That included a career-best 16 tackles against Notre Dame. At 6-1, 224 pounds, McDuffie holds up well in the box and will get you down once he gets his hands on you. The Packers have had good success with later-round selections and McDuffie could be their next to break through.
Larnel Coleman, offensive lineman, UMass, selected in the seventh round by the Miami Dolphins: Coleman is a native of Malden who played his high school ball at St. Clement. He quickly became a fixture on the offensive line for the Minutemen, and started at both right and left tackle over his career. At 6-6, 315 pounds, Coleman has nimble feet and won't easily get beat by a speed rush. Although he has experience at both tackle spots, he may start off early on the right side. In his press availabilities, UMass coach Walt Bell always spoke highly of Coleman, who was one of the leaders on the team in Amherst.