Before addressing Jeff Demps and what he brings and might be able to do for our beloved Patriots, lets first say this. Most of us want our team to win more then anything, and after that comes the more esoteric desires like style of play we want, power running moves, deep passes, etc. We care most about how those things help us win. We want a strong defense without too many holes that can save games when necessary and an offense that is other worldly. So regardless of whether you think the needs on D or O outweigh the other on this particular post I am just looking at one thing. Feel free to passionately disagree with any of this but understand its only what I see his potential as and I am not suggesting its a sure thing other then him being fast(he be rolling). Given the long debates we have all had on the need for a boost to our WR corps including a deep threat it would be great if someone we already have like Demps can be part of the solution or better especially since in those conversations we also are all aware we will have to invest resources to boost our O and D, hence having one piece already in place is trick. Whether Demps is a deep threat or can be one remains to be seen. He can definitely separate and with that much of it it at least makes him an option to take shots at deep with low INT risk when he does break, but at the very least he provides a boost to our return game and the WR corps as he has played that role with slots and screens, etc in college. He isn't just some Olympic speed wonder he has football talent. I will take as good a shot at it as I can with the information we currently have available. Will first look at Demps talent, and then how that might translate to use by the Patriots.
First, Demps has one thing in massive quantities. Speed. No, were not talking about AJ Green speed where he routinely races and jukes his way past defenders, nor RG3 speed in the 4.30-4.40 range(or Kaep) where when healthy routinely made Ware and others look silly as he streaked by and around them. As much as I would like too I can't really say Demps speed is similar to Moss either. Demps is faster then all of them in strides especially his burst. Moss in his prime is the only one even within range. As a Junior at UF Demps ran a 4.29 but in a later run there ran 4.18 in the 40, and some private tests while he was training for the Olympics pegged him substantially higher. Moss ran a best 4.25 which seemed crazy at the time. Jeff Demps officially ran a 10.01 in the 100 yard dash. That is covering 40 yards every 4.004 seconds, basically almost 4 flat and generally people have to pace themselves a little in the 100. Hence, Demps running 40 times well under 4.2 as reported by UF and other sources absolutely square with the other available evidence and he may be a player where his 40 time doesn't even do him justice as the eye test will surprise most you or at least it did me. He has the best speed I have seen in the NFL, I will post a video link of him not just running by defenders, but running away from top college CBs, etc. He was so fast he at times seemed like he could literally run twice as fast as anyone near him even though it wasn't quite that fast.
Secondly, and just as importantly he has football experience and can catch at least close range, and can return hence if given space to adjust can catch the ball from a distance coming down. Those things and what is perceived to be a fierce work ethic and desire to compete(anyone in the Olympics is motivated, let nobody convince you otherwise) all translate into him likely inspiring others around him and to be more perspicuous he will be another leader eventually if it works out for him here and provide new options that only someone with his speed can do.
BB has a history of finding hidden gems in the draft, and other places some people dont look or because their not looking for the same thing. Demps had a pretty good college resume' but truth be told when he was on the field there was that special feel that something unusual could happen. That he could make someone who normally runs like the wind look slow.
What can he give the Patriots? Well, besides a punt/kick returner as dynamic as seen in the NFL, and another potential member of the running back committee, he also provides another option at WR. This isn't wishful thinking as seen in the video I have linked to this and other videos around the net Demps has a history catching screen passes and even passes over the middle and flat steaming down the field. He is also willing to blast through blockages in the running lanes as you will see. I saw maybe 1 or 2 times someone caught him from behind and usually he either had slowed or was approaching/in traffic and having to moderate. The other impressive thing is not just his straight line speed, but he consistently beat guys with the angle on him as you will also see in my link. His agility may be as off the charts as his burner speed. People wanted a burner, here is an archetype burner taken to the 3rd power. Tall is great, but if your fast enough you can get plenty of separation that way.
Can Jeff Demps provide part of our answer as a deep threat? That is unknown. However, he provides a possibility there since he has a much better track record catching passes in games then Slater as Slater seems more of a decoy at times. Demps was actually part of the passing attack at times in college though usually close range. One reason they probably didn't do more long passing though was because they often could throw screens or shots over the middle to Demps and he would manage to break it anyway. So in college the idea was just to get him the ball with any open space and he did the rest. Being a returner involves tracking the ball too, but given Demps unreal speed he should be capable of generating such great separation at times that taking a shot deep at him wont risk the INT very much at all when on quite a few plays. I also believe its absolutely possible he could be a play maker deep, but we will just have to watch it happen to know for sure because I also understand its very possible he could do well but not work well deep for various reasons. He certainly has more ball skills catching then Slater and we use him there. Maybe he will just be for returns, screens, slot duty, RBing, and decoying deep. BB worked to recruit him with strong competition from the Jets, Bucs and others. He also wasn't willing to risk trying to get Demps past Waivers(would have been claimed rapidly) and seems interested enough that he likely intends more then just a few returns for him.
Here is one youtube video of this amazing player we will see in action later this year. Just looking at a few of his plays in preseason is enough to make you anxious to see him play. His speed was on display on the very limited amount of plays we saw so far. I hope and pray we see many more including him catching 7-8 passes and a TD to put us up 21 points in Q4 of SB 48 after taking one to the house in Q1 to give us a 7 point lead :)-
Big time play maker that changes games, or a role player? We don't know yet but it should be fun watching and if there is someone who can be more then we expected out of the current players we have its Demps.
We shall see <><