Marte Mapu becomes highest drafted Hornet into NFL

New England Patriots select the swiss army knife defender


Dominique Williams

Marte Mapu makes a hand signal to the defense at Sacramento State on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. Mapu became the highest draft pick in Sac State history when he was selected by the New England Patriots at 76th overall.

Jack Freeman and Isaac Streeter

With the 76th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, The New England Patriots select Marte Mapu, Linebacker, Sacramento State. 

Mapu had an impressive showing at the NFLPA Bowl which then led to an invite to the Senior Bowl where the safety-linebacker hybrid received a lot of attention for his play. 

“This is my favorite player in the entire draft,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said on the broadcast. “He’s what the modern linebacker looks like in the NFL right now.” 

The former Hornet became the first player in the 2023 draft to be selected that was not invited to the NFL combine in February and the second player to be drafted from the FCS level. 

Mapu dominated during his time at Sac State, with seven interceptions and 165 tackles in his career. He also won Big Sky defensive player of the year in 2022 as well as being named to eight All-American teams the same year. 

Listed by Sac State as a nickelback, Mapu plays an unorthodox hybrid safety linebacker position. When Mapu heard his name called by the Patriots, it was as a linebacker.

After a pectoral injury in the Senior Bowl, Mapu did not work out at the Sac State Pro Day. Doesn’t seem to have deterred teams from his talent, as Mapu continued to rise up on draft boards. 

Mapu has become the first Sac State football player to be drafted into the NFL in nearly two decades and is the highest drafted player in school history. The previous highest selection was John Farley in 1984 when the Bengals selected him 92nd overall. 

Sac State hasn’t had a player selected since Marco Cavka was picked by the Jets 178th overall in 2004.