Patriots draft Marcus Cannon
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In selecting TCU offensive lineman Marcus Cannon with their initial fifth-round pick (138th overall), the New England Patriots get a player with early-round skills but who fell in the draft because of medical concerns.
The 6-foot-5, 358-pound Cannon was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The success rate for beating this form of cancer is more than 90 percent.
"At first it just came at an exam at the [NFL] combine," he said. "One of the teams ordered a biospy and [it] confirmed that something was wrong."
Cannon said that the diagnosis hasn't been as emotional as he expected.
"We first figured out that I have lymphoma, and my parents came down here. It really hasn't been as emotional as you'd expect. God has kept us pretty settled, pretty patient," he said. "Everything has been taken care of."
Cannon added that he "feels awesome" after undergoing his first treatment on Thursday.
"God's blessed me," he said. "I haven't had any of the symptoms of my treatment that I was supposed to have."
From a Patriots perspective, the fifth round seems like the right time to take this type of risk, as Cannon has starter-caliber skills. He is one of the more powerful linemen in the draft, and if healthy, probably projects best to the right guard spot in New England. Right tackle is also an option.
He does not know for sure when the treatment will be finished.
"I'm just taking my treatment day by day, and whenever I'm done with my treatment is when I get to go play football," he said.
One final option to consider is that the team could consider starting him on the physically unable to perform list, saving a roster spot with 2012 in mind, somewhat similar to how the team approached receiver Brandon Tate after selecting him in the third round of the 2009 draft.
As a redshirt senior last season, Cannon started all 13 games for TCU and was a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection for the second straight season.
Cannon is sure he'll be able to contribute to the team.
"I think I bring a big frame that moves as fast as everybody else or faster, a lot of power, and I bring a good personality to the team," he said.
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. ESPNBoston.com's Mike Rodak contributed to this report.