Rookie LB Ja’Whaun Bentley is an old-school throwback with legacy of leadership

(Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

The Patriots have always liked drafting college captains. It isn’t the sort of thing that will cause New England to specifically target a prospect, but let’s just say it doesn’t hurt: Including this year, in the last nine drafts, they’ve had 70 picks overall. Thirty-two of those have been college captains, or almost half. Among the Patriots’ 22 starters in the AFC championship win over Jacksonville, 11 were team captains for at least one college season, and eight more reserves on the two-deep depth chart held that distinction with their college teams.

So with that in mind, it should be no real surprise that someone like Purdue linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley was on the Patriots’ radar. The only three-year captain in the history of Boilermaker football, Bentley is an unknown commodity when it comes to the NFL, but he certainly scores high when it comes to intangibles.

“I couldn’t have had a better experience coaching him,” said Purdue linebackers coach Nick Holt. “When it comes to intangibles, he gets plusses across the board. He’s a very smart, engaging young man with a lot of personality.”

Of course, the 6-foot-2, 260-pound linebacker — who was taken in the fifth round by the Patriots last month — isn’t just all about intangibles. In 37 college games, he finished with 160 solo tackles, including 29.5 for loss, as well as a sack and a pair of picks.