The fifth in a series looking at the Patriots' 2012 NFL Draft picks, and the roles they might play for the Patriots next year.
Name: Nate Ebner
School: Ohio State
Position: Safety / Special Teams
Drafted: 6th round, 197th overall
Overview: Before walking on at Ohio State, Patriots safety Nate Ebner was best known for his rugby skills. During his rugby years, Ebner was honored with several accolades and awards. According to Ohio State's official athletics website, Ebner played on the United States' U19 and U20 national teams, was named the MVP of the Rugby World Cup in 2007 and 2008, and at age 17, was the youngest player to ever play in National 7's. In fact, Ebner didn't even play football in high school. Nonetheless, by the time his career was finished at Ohio State, he was known as a standout special teams player and had even earned scholarship. While his rugby background and subsequent stellar special teams play certainly earned him some notoriety, it was his performance at Ohio State's Pro Day that really turned heads. Ebner ran a 4.55 40 yard dash, put up 23 bench press reps, had a 39 inch vertical, 4.04 shuttle, and ran a 6.59 in the 3-cone drill.
Projected Role: Before he's even played a preseason snap for the Patriots, Nate Ebner, nicknamed "the War Hammer" at Ohio State, has already become a fan favorite. Nonetheless, he faces considerably long odds to make the Patriots 53 man roster coming out of training camp. Ebner certainly has a shot at the final roster, especially if the Patriots see enough immediate value out of him as a special teamer. Nonetheless, if the Patriots feel he can pass through waivers, it's my guess that he spends most of 2012 on the practice squad before becoming a fixture on the roster by 2013, in a reserve/special teams role.
Projected Stats: 2 games played; 2 tackles
Bottom Line: Practice squad in 2012 (with a chance to get called up near the end of the season), makes the roster in 2013