BB loves these somewhat obscure LB/S hybrids. Physically he's Duggar's doppelganger.
Duggar - 6'1", 217
Mapu - 6'3", 221
Both are physical at the point of attack, have good instincts for the ball, both are wrap up tacklers. Mapu is probably better in coverage and Dugger is probably better in run support.
Mapu should help on STs right away.
NFL Draft grades for every pick of Round 2 and 3: Steelers, Patriots, Titans impress
76. New England Patriots: Marte Mapu, S, Sacramento State
Another versatile chess piece for Bill Belichick, Mapu flashed at the Senior Bowl and vaulted up draft boards. He finished at No. 100 on Brugler’s overall list. The Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, Mapu collected 76 tackles, including 6.5 for loss, broke up six passes and intercepted two. In 2021, Mapu had 14 breakups and four interceptions. He was a surprising omission from the combine.
Blessed with a linebacker body (6-3, 221) and long arms (78 ¾ wingspan), Mapu is a heavy hitter and covers like a safety. He had a leg muscle injury in Mobile and couldn’t compete in the game, then tore a pec muscle during training and couldn’t work out for teams. Mapu might have to redshirt for a season, but if he’s healthy, he could become an asset right away in subpackages and on special teams.
Also from the
Why the Patriots chose a small-school player without a position in the third round. Bill Belichick loves him, but was it the right pick?
The Patriots continued to load up on the defensive side of the ball Friday, using the 76th pick (third round) on a position-versatile hard hitter from a small school. In a classic pick from Bill Belichick, the Patriots chose Sacramento State’s Marte Mapu, a collegiate safety who was announced as a linebacker.
Mapu represents a lot of what Belichick tends to like in midround prospects. He has upside on special teams, the ability to play multiple positions and a work ethic his college coaches raved about.
No. 100. In his breakdown of the top 300 prospects, draft expert Dane Brugler wrote: “Mapu is a good-sized athlete with outstanding diagnose skills to quickly read pass/run and swarm to the play. His aggressiveness can be a double-edged sword. He plays with the physicality to work near the line of scrimmage, but he doesn’t have the quick twitch traits to easily recover after a false step.
“Overall, all 32 NFL teams are looking for long, explosive athletes who can play the run and cover, and Mapu has shown those traits as a potential matchup weapon. With his ability to identify as either a linebacker or ‘big’ safety, he is scheme diverse with the talent to be a core special-teamer.”
Mapu grew up just south of Los Angeles and went to a high school not known for its football prowess. He played both ways in high school, playing quarterback (he completed 62 percent of his passes as a senior) and in the secondary.
But Mapu was a no-star recruit via scouting services and didn’t receive a Division I offer. He spent six years at Sacramento State, redshirting in 2017 and being forced to sit out the 2020 season due to the pandemic. Mapu played defense and special teams in college and led his team in interceptions in 2021 (four) and 2022 (two). He was named the Big Sky Conference’s defensive player of the year last season.
Mapu wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and wasn’t able to participate in drills at his pro day due to a torn pectoral that required surgery in February.
How he fits
The Patriots utilize big safeties and multiple safeties on the field more than any other team. Though Mapu was announced as a linebacker, the guess here is that he’ll play a kind of hybrid linebacker/safety role on third downs. It could be a similar role to the one Jabrill Peppers played a year ago. Plus, Mapu has the traits of a core special-teamer, and everyone knows how much Belichick values that. If they can develop him, Mapu could fill a role left vacant by Peppers or Kyle Dugger if the team moves on from them in 2024.
Mapu’s ceiling is probably a player in the mold of Dugger. A more realistic outcome is probably as a defensive contributor in a hybrid role while adding special teams work.
Outside of special teams, it’s hard to see how Mapu is going to have a big impact as a rookie unless there are major injuries on defense. He’s probably not going to play at safety over Dugger, Adrian Phillips, Peppers or Jalen Mills (if he’s moved to that position). And at linebacker, he probably wouldn’t be used on first or second down.
Mapu’s best chance at playing time is via special teams while he tries to carve out a role in an opponent-specific third-down package where the Patriots use multiple big safeties (as they did on occasion last season).
It’s hard to slot Mapu into a certain spot on the depth chart since his role is probably somewhere between a linebacker and safety. He’s not a linebacker in the way Ja’Whaun Bentley is, but he’s also not a true safety like Phillips. For now, this pick doesn’t shake up the depth chart in a meaningful way — unless you care about the competition for the gunner job on the punt team or what kind of third-down packages the Patriots could roll out against tight end-heavy offenses.
On one hand, this pick fits everything the Patriots value. Mapu is position versatile. It’s easy to see the role he’d play as a big safety or small linebacker. They carve out spots for those kinds of players in specific third-down packages all the time. In a vacuum, all of that makes sense for a third-round pick.
On the other hand, it seems odd that New England would choose to address that position this early when it already has playmakers there — ignoring offensive tackle, tight end and wide receiver in the process.
Hard to disagree with the bolded. Now offense please. Help Mac.