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Character questions sent Alfonzo Dennard's draft stock free-falling.
Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard had first-round talent, but allegedly punched a police officer days before the draft. Consequently, the Patriots took a low-risk, high-reward shot on the Cornhusker cornerback in the seventh round.
"He’s strong. He’s a physical player," Bill Belichick told CSNNE.com's Tom Curran. "Obviously he played at a high level of competition, particularly in the 2010 season where they played so much in the passing conference (The Big 12)—a lot of spread out offenses, a lot of nickel, dime coverage and that type of thing."
Comfortable in a variety of positions, the 5'10", 205-pound defensive back has a chance to prove his doubters wrong. Walterfootball.com's Charlie Campbell feels that Dennard is best in zone coverage and must overcome a poor showing at the Senior Bowl.
"He had a fantastic collegiate career and was a strong cover corner," said Campbell. "Dennard really struggled at the Senior Bowl, and while he had a fast 40 time at the Combine (4.51 with a 10-yard split 1.52), he didn't do enough in the field drills to answer some concerns about his hip flexibility."
Alfonzo Dennard's role on the Patriots depends on the success of young cornerbacks Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling and Sterling Moore. If the aforementioned struggle, Dennard might be thrust into action. Yet if these corners play well, then Dennard won't make much of a difference early on.
He has the potential to be a starting-caliber corner in the NFL, but must mature and learn the defense first. Dennard will see the field in nickle or dime packages, yet time will tell if the risk is worth the reward.
"Meanwhile, the reward is that if Dennard does mature and get it together - perhaps with him slipping to the seventh round as a wake-up call - the Patriots will have stolen a player much later than he was expected to be picked," said ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss.