Patriots talk special teams with projected first-round pick Dee Ford

Former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford has been one of the fastest rising players in this year’s NFL Draft class after solid performances at the Senior Bowl and Auburn’s pro day. His rare athleticism combined with his size has been reason enough to draw interest from several notable teams.

While the 6-foot-2, 244-pounder has only met with the Patriots thus far, he also has visits with the Buccaneers and Colts scheduled in the near future. The Patriots, according to Ford, preached playing special teams, despite being projected as a first-round pick.

“Well, one thing I learned about [the Patriots] is you’re going to have to play special teams down there,” Ford told in an interview. “You’re going to have to learn how to play special teams and be effective in all phases because you can only travel with so many. I was able to learn a lot of the fundamentals that they do with their special teams and how it all correlates to the game itself. I was able to show them that I was good at dropping in space and things like that. It went well.”

Despite not performing in Indianapolis due to precautionary medical reasons, he posted impressive times (4.53, 4.59) in the 40-yard dash earlier this month at his pro day. With a little over 40 days remaining until the NFL Draft, Ford is committed to staying focused.

“It’s a tricky process right now,” Ford said. “You want to stay in shape, but you don’t want to over train. I’ve been doing a lot since the national championship, Senior Bowl, Combine and pro day. You just want to stay in shape.”

Ford, 23, understands his value as an elite pass rusher. After becoming the SEC’s second-leading sack leader and being named as the Senior Bowl’s MVP, Ford has witnessed his name catapult among draft experts.

“This is a passing league right now,” Ford said. “You can’t find guys who can consistently get to the passer. Defensive ends, offensive tackles, wide receivers and quarterbacks is where the money is being made right now because it’s such a dynamic passing league. Like I said, you can probably count on two hands the amount of dynamic pass rushers in the league.”