NEPD Editor: James Christensen
Alfonzo Dennard, former standout cornerback at the University of Nebraska, was picked by the New England Patriots in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Someone reading that sentence just four short months ago would have laughed – no way would Dennard fall into the third round, let alone the seventh.
Yet, here we are. What can we expect out of Dennard for the 2012 season?
If you’re looking for Dennard to be a lock-down corner on the outside, you’re probably not going to be happy. He struggles at time when playing off receivers and although he has reportedly looked good in OTA’s, I don’t expect him to unseat Devin McCourty or Ras-I Dowling on the boundary.
Where I do see Dennard having an impact is at the “star” cornerback position, which lines up over the slot receiver. He excels in press coverage, where he can use his physicality to jam the receiver and prevent them from gaining a good release. He is a willing tackler and has some experience coming on the blitz as well.
If Dennard has a good camp and stays out of further trouble, I anticipate him battling with Kyle Arrington and Sterling Moore to be the star on Sundays.
However, there is the legal issue that will hang over Dennard’s head for the majority of the season.
After an incident in which Dennard was charged with 3rd degree assault of a police officer just days before the 2012 NFL Draft, the Patriots seemed like the only team willing to spend a draft pick on the talented corner.
The trial for the incident has been pushed back to December. Dennard has plead not guilty.
If things do go sour, the Patriots aren’t on the hook for a lot of money. Dennard signed a four-year, $2.2 million contract that includes almost $58,000 in guaranteed money. His base salaries will be $390,000, $480,000, $570,000 and $660,000.