Patriots select Gators DT Dominique Easley

The New England Patriots selected Florida Gators DT Dominique Easley with the 29th overall pick.

Dominique Easley missed most of the 2013 season with a knee injury but had 72 tackles in his Florida career.

Jake Roth / USA TODAY Sports

Former Gator defensive lineman Dominique Easley was selected 29th overall in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft on Thursday night by the New England Patriots.

Easley is the 46th Gator drafted all-time in the first round. With Easley's selection, the Gators have now had a defensive lineman drafted in the first round in each of the last two drafts, as Sharrif Floyd was taken by the Minnesota Vikings in 2013.

''Dominique Easley is one of the best value picks in this draft,'' said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock following the selection. ''He was a top 30 pick until he tore his ACL this September. He's the prototype three-technique -- a defensive tackle in a 4-3 front. He's quick, he's explosive. A lot of people felt like he was going to end up dropping because of the ACL.''

''This is a typical BIll Belichick pick,'' said Mayock. ''He's got talent. The rest of the league discounted the talent because of the injury.''

Easley, who is from Staten Island, N.Y., recorded 72 tackles and 5.5 sacks at Florida.

''I was very excited when I saw the Massachusetts number come up on my phone,'' said Easley told reporters. ''I've been watching the Patriots for a long time. (Former Florida coach) Urban Meyer had a lot of players go to the Patriots and it's a winning team, so I'm really excited.''