NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
If you had to categorize the 2012 off-season so far, it might be called “the off-season of the WR.”
After a 2011 season of sub-par WR performances, the Patriots identified a need and addressed it with abundance. The team signed Anthony Gonzalez, Jabar Gaffney, Jesse Holley, Brandon Lloyd and Donte Stallworth in free agency and capped that off by taking Northwestern product Jeremy Ebert in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
With so much competition, what can we expect out of Ebert in 2012?
Ebert projects as a slot receiver at the NFL level and should be direct competition for Julian Edelman as a backup to Wes Welker. Ebert is 5’10 ¾” 200 pounds and ran an impressive 4.38 40 yard dash during his Northwestern pro day. He excelled in the slot in the Big 10 catching 75 passes his senior season for 1060 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a junior he caught 62 for 953 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Without a long term contract, it would be wise for the Patriots to groom Wes Welker’s replacement. Julian Edelman is one of the most versatile players in the league, but he hasn’t proven enough as an offensive playmaker to be able to take on that role full time.
If Ebert does hope to make the team, he’ll have to prove that he can learn the Patriots complex playbook quickly. The Patriots have had eleven years worth of trouble developing young wide receivers just for that reason.
With so much competition, it’s more likely that Ebert will be a practice squad candidate, if he passes through waivers that is. Last season, the Patriots had more players snagged off waivers than any other team in the NFL.
Ebert will no doubt draw comparisons to Welker and Edelman due to his skin tone and stature, but players as good as no. 83 don’t grow on trees. We all know how much Boston fans love scrappy white guys, so I’m sure he’ll have some fans this year in camp and during exhibition games if he shows that same “grit and determination.”
Ebert signed a four year deal with the Patriots worth $2.148 million including a $48,200 signing bonus.
Update: Mike Reiss reported that Jeremy Ebert failed his physical today after reporting to the team. He was placed on the Active/PUP list after injuring his leg during minicamp. Ebert can be removed from the list before the regular season starts.