FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas tight end AJ Derby has been selected by the New England Patriots as the 26th pick in the sixth round (202nd overall) of the 2015 National Football League Draft.
Derby is the sixth Razorback tight end to be selected for the NFL Draft and the eighth Arkansas player to be selected by the Patriots following defensive end Trey Flower’s selection by New England in the fourth round.
The Iowa City, Iowa native is the ninth Razorback to be drafted under second-year head coach Bret Bielema. Derby is Bielema’s fourth tight end to be drafted in his eight-year head coaching career.
A quarterback-turned tight end, Derby has made two stops at Iowa and Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College before arriving in Fayetteville in the fall of 2013. After seeing action in seven games and starting two in his junior year, he switched to tight end in the 2014 fall camp. He made an immediate impact for the Razorbacks’ tight end corps, starting seven games and appearing in 11 before suffering an injury to close the season.
Derby earned 303 yards receiving on 22 catches and three touchdowns in his final season. Against No. 7 Alabama, he turned in a career-long highlight-reel 54-yard touchdown reception, earning him CFPA Tight End of the Week.
Derby was also an essential blocker for running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, who were the only FBS teammates to each rush for 1,000-plus yards in the 2014 season.
With his ticket punched to the NFL, Derby follows in the footsteps of his father, John, who played for the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns, and his uncle Glenn Derby, a former offensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING:
“Big, physical and fast. Athletic in space with ability to create some separation out of breaks. Has speed after catch in open field. Posted impressive 54-yard touchdown catch and run against Alabama secondary that struggled to catch him. Can line up all over the field. Natural pass-catcher. Had only one drop during 2014 season. Showed willingness to catch throws over the middle and take the punishment. Unique perspective after playing quarterback and linebacker before move to tight end. Ability to add roster depth at two positions as emergency quarterback. Comes from football bloodlines. Father and uncle had stops in the NFL and his brother lettered at Iowa.” – NFL.com
“Plays with a little bit of an edge and occasionally gets under defenders’ skin with effort as a blocker. Runs hard and fights for yards after catch. Willing to do the dirty work over the middle.” – ESPN.com
|ARKANSAS TE DRAFT HISTORY|
|2015||6||202||AJ Derby||New England Patriots|
|2013||7||222||Chris Gragg||Buffalo Bills|
|2011||5||141||D.J. Williams||Green Bay Packers|
|1987||12||317||Theo Young||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|1971||17||419||Pat Morrison||Buffalo Bills|
|1961||7||95||Jim Collier||New York Giants|
|BIELEMA COACHED TE DRAFT HISTORY|
|2015||6||202||AJ Derby||New England Patriots||Arkansas|
|2011||2||47||Lance Kendricks||St. Louis Rams||Wisconsin|
|2010||4||118||Garrett Graham||Houston Texans||Wisconsin|
|2009||3||100||Travis Beckum||New York Giants||Wisconsin|
|RAZORBACKS DRAFTED BY PATRIOTS|