NEPD Editor: James Christensen
After the New England Patriots drafted Tavon Wilson, most fans thought the “What!?!” pick had already been made by the Patriots in the 2012 NFL Draft. However, Bill Belichick had another surprise in store for the New England faithful with his sixth round selection of Ohio State DB and rugby player Nate Ebner.
Will Nate Ebner make the Patriots roster? If he does, what sort of impact can he make?
Nate Ebner’s past, including his time playing rugby union, has been well documented. What remains to be seen is how he could fit on an NFL team’s 53-man roster.
Having only played a handful of defensive snaps at Ohio State, it is unrealistic to expect Ebner to contribute there right away, although he has been praised as a quick learner and hard worker.
Where Ebner can contribute right away is as a special teams ace, a role he already held as a Buckeye last year. If he can play on the punt return and coverage, as well as the kick return and coverage units, he just might buy himself some time to learn the defense.
If the Patriots can’t find a spot for him on the 53-man roster initially, look for them to try and slide him to the practice squad.
Ebner signed a four-year deal in May that includes base salaries of $390,000 in 2012, $480,000 in 2013, $570,000 in 2014 and $660,000 in 2015. Ebner received a $96,000 signing bonus.