The Patriots are loading up on defense.
New England picked a defensive player for the third time in three picks, this time selecting Sacramento State linebacker Marte Mapu 76th overall in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Friday night.
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Mapu, who also boasts some potential to play safety, was a two-year starter at Sacramento State. He earned Second Team All-Big Sky honors in 2021 after tallying 65 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and 14 passes defended.
As a redshirt senior last year, the 23-year-old recorded 76 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and six passes defended en route to making FCS First-Team All-America and being named Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year.
New England Patriots
Mapu wasn't invited to the NFL combine and tore his pec during pre-draft training in February, which prevented him from participating in Sacramento State's pro day. After being drafted, Mapu told reporters he expects to be ready by the start of training camp at the latest.
Mapu becomes the third member of New England's 2023 draft class, joining first-round cornerback Christian Gonzalez and second-round edge rusher Keion White.
The Pats' next pick comes on Day 3 with the fifth pick of the fourth round (107th overall), their first of four fourth-round selections. New England projects to be very busy on Saturday, with a total of nine picks over the final four rounds.