Jun 23, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Jeff Demps of Florida runs 10.18 in a 100m heat in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
I've made it abundantly clear, both this season and last, that I am unhappy with the current state of the Patriots kick return game. I think that Julian Edelman is great as a punt returner, but he can't quite translate that shiftiness and quick-cutting ability into a kickoff situation that requires you to build a lot of speed, make one or two decisive moves, and then just go. Similarly, Danny Woodhead hasn't shown that he is the answer back there either. I know some beg to differ with me on that latter point, as Woodhead runs a fast 40 and is very hard to catch in the open field, but ultimately I simply don't think he has the ability that the Patriots once enjoyed in players like Brandon Tate, Ellis Hobbs, and even Bethel Johnson back in the day.
And now here we have the very intriguing Jeff Demps, coming off a 2,470 rushing yard, 23 touchdown college career and an Olympic medal for his ability to run really, really fast. I don't know much about track and field, but I feel comfortable saying that if you're on the United States Olympic Relay Team, you can probably bring the football from the goal line to past the 20 yard line pretty quickly. I would love to see New England bring Demps in for a workout and see how he fares as a return man, as that was an element they were really lacking last season and the battle for field position is one of the more underrated elements of a football game.
The flipside, of course, is that the Patriots already have four running backs in the stable, all of whom are performing well, and I don't know if Belichick would want to keep five backs. I'm not sure how much time Demps would see as anything other than a return man, and we all know how much Belichick prizes versatility in his players. Demps simply might not have the polish to his overall game that Belichick would need in order to give him a roster spot. However, at the moment, the team has some open spaces, so I see no reason why they shouldn't at least bring him in to see what he can do.
What do you think? Should New England use up one of their open roster spots on Demps, or should they keep those spots open to build depth elsewhere?