Alfonzo Dennard

Draft Grades: New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are always a tough team to predict in the draft, and Bill Belichick proved why once again. Belichick builds his own draft board and sticks to it, regardless of how it matches up with the consensus opinion.

I was somewhat surprised by the trade up for Chander Jones, but I like the pick. He’s a perfect fit at end/linebacker in the Patriots hybrid defense. And while he’s still developing, Jones has the potential to be a true three-down lineman.

The selection of Dont’a Hightower felt like a slight reach in my opinion, and it’s tough to figure out how he’ll fit in the Patriots defense. That said, Belichick stacks his draft board with players whom he sees a specific role for in his defense, so I have no doubt that they have a plan for him.

While I’m willing to give Belichick the benefit of the doubt with Hightower, I can’t be so generous with the selection of Tavon Wilson. He’ll provide some much needed depth in the secondary but it’s tough to imagine him ever developing into a starter. Belichick does not have a strong track record drafting defensive backs, and this is just the latest slip up.

Jake Bequette was a great 3rd-round pick. He’ll have a chance to compete for a starting job, and should be used as part of the rotation at defensive end. He’s not an explosive pass rusher, but should be an asset on running downs.

Nate Ebner was the biggest 6th-round reach I’ve ever seen. He’s a former rugby player who was exclusively a special teams contributor at Ohio State. His measurables are impressive, but it’s tough to justify spending a 6th-round pick and a roster spot on a guy with so much development needed.

Alfonzo Dennard was overrated and his recent arrest led to his fall, but he was well worth the risk in the 7th round. However, it’s difficult to understand why the Patriots waited until the 7th round to address their need for a cornerback. Depth at the position was serious issue last year and relying on Dennard to fix the problem is a risk.

Jeremy Ebert will be Belichick’s latest project at receiver. He was productive at Northwestern and has the skill set necessary to contribute in the Welker/Edleman role. However, it’s getting crowded at the receiver position in New England and he’ll have a tough time making the final roster cuts.

Overall, this was just a so-so draft for the Patriots. They made some significant upgrades to their defensive front-seven, but the secondary was essentially ignored. It’s tough to imagine Wilson, Ebner or Dennard providing any meaningful contributions this season, which could mean their passing defense struggles from last season will carry over to 2012.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Patriots Leave a comment

Alfonzo Dennard scouting report

Alfonzo Dennard CB Nebraska #15
Ht: 5’10″Wt: 205
Strong for his size; good overall build. Does a nice job turning and getting into position to make plays on the ball. Above-average straight-line speed; has the speed to make up for mistakes. Willing to mix it up at the line of scrimmage with bigger receivers. Plays a surprisingly physical brand of football for a cornerback of his size.
Undersized; lacks the height most teams like in their top corners. Struggles to match up with receivers in press coverage; takes too many false steps and easily gets beat – often makes up for mistakes with speed, but that won’t always be possible at the next level. More fast than quick. Not a very enthusiastic tackler; tackles with his arms and tends to shy away from head-on collisions. Ball skills are lacking; does a nice job making plays on the ball but rarely comes down with the interception. Serious injury concerns. Missed time with a shoulder injury in 2009. Missed time with a concussion in 2010. Missed three games with pulled leg muscle in 2011.
Dennard was a productive college cornerback, but failed to take his game to a new level as a senior. He has the skills to play at the next level and potentially compete for a starting job down the road, but he lacks the skills necessary to make an immediate impact.


Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Leave a comment