Undrafted rookie Croston knew all about 'Do Your Job' culture at Iowa


Undrafted rookie Croston knew all about 'Do Your Job' culture at Iowa

FOXBORO -- Cole Croston had a little bit of a head start.

When he arrived at Gillette Stadium as an undrafted free agent following this year's draft, the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder already had a good idea of what to expect.


Not necessarily in terms of the intricacies of the offense or the speed of the game. But the culture? He had some experience with the culture.

"The funny thing is, in the Iowa meeting rooms, we always heard a lot of 'Do your job,' " Croston said. "And that’s the same thing around here. And it’s really prepared me for this level because Coach Belichick says those things every single day."

Croston was perhaps the biggest surprise addition to New England's initial 53-man roster this weekend. He has the ability to play both guard and tackle and looks like the primary backup for interior starters like Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason.

“It’s kind of come full circle for me,” Croston said over the weekend. “I was a walk-on at Iowa, and I was undrafted coming out of college. I had my shot with the New England Patriots, and I was able to achieve that goal.”

Croston only received Division III offers to play college football coming out of high school as a 225-pound senior, but he made the Hawkeyes as a walk-on where he was prepared for his post-grad life as a member of the Patriots by playing under head coach Kirk Ferentz and offensive line coach Brian Ferentz.

Both members of the Ferentz family worked under Bill Belichick at different points. Kirk Ferentz served as Belichick's offensive line coach when the two were together in Cleveland, while Brian Ferentz, Kirk's son, served as Patriots assistant before making his way back to Iowa to coach under his father.

When Croston's college career came to an end and it came time to think about playing professionally, he had one landing spot in particular in mind. 

"I had contact with coach [Dante] Scarnecchia and I had heard what kind of coach he was and the legendary things he had done," Croston said. "Coming out of college, I was super interested in doing that kind of thing and being part of something bigger than me."

Now, after coming into the summer as one of the long shots on the 90-man roster in New England, he has a spot where he hoped he would. 

Croston is one of four undrafted players to make this year's initial 53-man roster out of training camp, joining tight end Jacob Hollister, linebacker Harvey Langi and defensive tackle Adam Butler. 

What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

The Patriots have made a trade with the Raiders to acquire receiver and special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson, according to a source. The deal, first reported by Pardon My Take, is an interesting one because it lands Patterson with the team that passed on the opportunity to draft him back in 2013. 


Bill Belichick dealt the No. 29 overall pick to the Vikings that year in exchange for four selections, including a second-rounder and a third-rounder. The second-rounder became Jamie Collins, and the third became Logan Ryan. The Patriots also took Josh Boyce with a fourth they received in the trade, and the fourth pick (a seventh) was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for LeGarrette Blount. The Vikings took Patterson. 

Patterson's career to this point has been a mixed bag. One of the top athletes in the 2013 draft, the Tennessee product never quite panned out as a go-to No. 1 receiver. He has not missed a game in five seasons, but he has never cracked 600 offensive snaps in a single season. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has turned himself into more of a gadget receiver as well as one of the game's best special teamers. 

Here's what the Patriots are getting in Patterson . . . 

TOP-TIER SPECIAL TEAMER: Patterson has solidified himself as one of the NFL's best kick-returners. In five seasons, he's ranked as the top returner in terms of average yards per return three times. He's never been outside of the top 10 in the league in that category. Last year he was sixth in the NFL with a 28.3 yards per return average. Patterson has also become a highly-effective gunner on punt units, a role he thrived in once he embraced it, and he has kick coverage experience. Patterson has not been a punt-returner. He has just one punt return under his belt compared to 153 kick returns. Patterson has been named a First-Team All-Pro twice for his work in the kicking game. 

INCONSISTENT RECEIVER: Patterson has never been able to take his explosiveness and translate that into consistent production offensively. He's not thought of as a precise route-runner, and he has a reputation as a "body-catcher." Yet, because he's so dynamic with the ball in his hands, offenses in Oakland and Minnesota have found ways to get the ball in his hands. He'll align in the backfield, take reverses and catch screens just to try to get him the ball in space where he can let his natural abilities take over. If he gets a crease, he can create a chunk play in a blink. 

THE COST: Patterson is in the second year of a two-year deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason. He has a base salary of $3 million and a cap hit of $3.25 million. The Patriots will be sending a fifth-rounder to the Raiders and getting a sixth-rounder back. (As an aside . . . The Patriots have used one fifth-round pick in the last six drafts. It was spent on long-snapper Joe Cardona. Why are they constantly dealing fifths away? Inside the Pylon's Dave Archibald did an interesting piece on that topic about a year and a half ago. The gist is that a) there's a significant drop-off in your chances of finding a star in the fifth compared to the fourth, and b) the talent in the fifth round, by some metrics, hasn't proven to be all that different from the sixth or seventh rounds.) 

THE FIT: Patterson is a relatively low-risk acquisition because of his cap hit (which on the Patriots slots him in between Shea McClellin and Chris Hogan) and because of the draft capital required to nab him. Trading for a player like Patterson as opposed to signing another team's free agent has the added benefit of not impacting the compensatory-pick formula. Patterson also fills a few needs. His abilities as a kick-returner will be more than suitable with last year's primary kick returner for the Patriots, Dion Lewis, out of the mix. What Patterson can do as a gunner and in kick coverage will also be useful with Johnson Bademosi now elsewhere. There's also a chance Matthew Slater plays in a different city in 2017, in which case Patterson's contributions as a gunner and in kick coverage could be critical. With Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman and Hogan all established in the Patriots offense, Patterson won't be expected to take on a heavy role in the Patriots offense. However, if he can pick up a new system, perhaps he could take on a role as a No. 4 or 5 wideout who benefits from plays designed to get him touches in space. Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt -- now alongside Patterson -- will all be competing for time in New England's offense. Former Patriots coaching assistant Mike Lombardi seems to believe it's unlikely Patterson contributes offensively


Patriots acquire WR Cordarrelle Patterson in trade with Raiders

Patriots acquire WR Cordarrelle Patterson in trade with Raiders

The Patriots have acquired wide receiver and kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson in a trade with the Raiders, NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry confirms.

Pardon My Take, a podcast by Barstool Sports, first reported the news.

Ian Rapaport of NFL Network reports the Patriots sent a fifth-round pick to Oakland and received a Raiders' sixth-rounder along with Patterson.

More to come...