FOXBORO -- New England's acquisition of Isaac Sopoaga happened, as Bill Belichick tells it, about 10 years after the team wanted it to.
The Patriots selected nose tackle Vince Wilfork at 21 overall in 2004's draft - and you won't hear anyone in Foxboro complain about that. But the team also had its eye on Sopoaga, a 6-2, 330-pound defensive tackle out of Hawaii.
"We talked about taking him, and we were going to take him but we were just a round late," Belichick said Wednesday. "We had already taken Vince, obviously, but you can never have too many defensive linemen. He was right there. We were ready to take him and said, 'Well, I think we can take him one round later.' We had already taken a couple of guys and so we probably waited a little too long on that one."
The team picked three players -- tight end Benjamin Watson, defensive end Marquise Hill, and safety Guss Scott -- in the second and third rounds. Sopoaga was still on the board. But before New England could grab him, San Francisco spent its No. 104 selection on the big D-tackle.
Funny thing about that pick: New England used to own it. But the team traded its fourth-round slot to Chicago for Ted Washington in 2003. The Bears then dealt the pick to Washington, who dealt it to San Francisco. Thus, Sopoaga became a 49er instead of a Patriot.
He's been extremely durable, playing in 133 games with 87 starts. He has 465 total career tackles, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
"Pretty good fourth-round pick, I'd say. I think if you knew what his career was going to be he would have gone in the second [round], or I mean, he could have gone in the first ahead of some people that were drafted in that round," Belichick said.
"I'd say he's had a real good career. Think of a fourth-round pick that's done what he's done. I'd say there's not too many of them that have done that."