We close out our series by looking at the second of the Patriots' two seventh round draft picks, and the last selection the team made.
Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers (235th overall pick)
Strengths: Stout run stopper who makes good decisions quickly. Strong upper and lower body allows him to get and stay low against both running backs and blockers. Can transition between inside and strong side linebacker. Team leader who was an on-field general for the Rutgers defense. Depth player that can play in either the 4-3 or the 3-4. Durable player who can diagnose the run and deliver big hits.
Weaknesses: None of his abilities are particularly strong, and definitely isn't an elite athlete. Needs to improve his overall quickness, agility, and pure speed. Can get stood up and shoved aside by linemen. Limited coverage skills make him a rotational linebacker at best.
Roster Lock? Beauharnais is a late-round draft pick joining an already crowded linebacking corps with the starters already pretty much established, so it's going to be an uphill climb if he wants to make the final gameday roster. Bauharnais definitely has special teams value, so he could definitely become this year's Nate Ebner, impressing in preseason and securing a spot on the punt and kick coverage units. I imagine the team would like to keep him around for the future, as they could groom him to replace Brandon Spikes when he leaves, but if he can't seem to get it together in the preseason, the Patriots may ultimately decide that they have enough Rutgers players on the roster already.
Role for 2013: If Beauharnais (pronounced Bo Har Niss) is going to have any role on the 2013 Patriots, it's going to be on special teams. Other than that, he seems like an ideal practice squad candidate to be groomed to take over Brandon Spikes' role if and when he leaves for more money at the end of this year. Expect to see a decent amount of Beauharnais in the preseason as the coaching staff feels him out; he could ultimately end up replacing Jeff Tarpinian or Mike Rivera (although Belichick does love him some Rivera). If I had to guess, I'd place Beauharnais on the practice squad to start the year, with him seeing some in-game action as the season goes on and the Patriots need to call some guys up for depth.