American Football

Patriots rookie Marte Mapu’s intelligence, versatility making strong first impression


NFL: New England Patriots Minicamp
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

New England selected Mapu in the third round of the NFL Draft.

Versatility is nothing new for New England Patriots third-round draft pick Marte Mapu. Since his Pop Warner days, he has seemingly played everywhere and anywhere on the football field.

“I feel like I’ve played everywhere,” Mapu said Monday recalling his old football days. “I had my hand in the dirt and everything. I think I’ve played everything.”

Since arriving in New England, Mapu’s versatility has been on full display throughout a handful of OTA and minicamp practices. After beginning the offseason at linebacker, the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Mapu has since seen the been roaming the New England secondary back at safety. He has impressed daily no matter where he aligns.

“I’ve been playing football for forever, so I feel comfortable period just being on the football field, in all honesty,” Mapu said. “I don’t really think it comes down to wherever I line up.

When New England added Mapu in the third-round of the 2023 NFL Draft, many viewed a hybrid role in his future. Such plan was not originally passed down to the Sacramento State alum, but he’s now ready to contributor anywhere he’s needed.

“I had no idea what the plans were going to be, honestly,” he said. “Just going through the process, a lot of stuff was up in the air, but being here is just: Whatever they ask me to do.

“I’m just comfortable doing whatever they ask me to do right now. They’ve watched my film, they know my strengths and weaknesses. So, I just try to follow through with whatever they have me do.”

Beyond his versatility, Mapu’s intelligence has stood out as well. Despite being able to handle numerous assignments this early in his career, Mapu has been seen helping teammates align as well.

“If we’re going to be on the field together, it’s in my best interest as a teammate to help you get lined up,” Mapu said. “I know that they would do the same for me. I feel like that’s just part of being a Patriot.”

Even while he still dons a red non-contact jersey after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in February, early indications point towards Mapu having a large part in New England’s defense from the jump.

While a clearer picture may emerge when the pads come on in late July, it’s been a promising start that the rookie will now hope to build off of.

“I’m doing everything I can on my part, but it’s hard to tell what the process is looking like because one, we’re not in pads, two, we’re really far from the season and haven’t played any real games yet,” Mapu said. “But on the other hand, I’m just trying to soak up as much as I can and grow every day.”

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