Another punter? Apparently veterans Chris Hanson (picked up from Jacksonville in 2007) and Scott Player (recently signed this past April from Cleveland) are in for a bit of competition since the Patriots signed undrafted rookie free agent Mike Dragosavich out of North Dakota State.
Dragosavich was invited to the Patriots rookie mini-camp on a strictly try-out basis, and merited an official acknowledgment from Belichick during a post-practice press conference before being signed.
"Mike's pretty athletic, he's a tall guy and he can generate some leg speed there," Belichick added. "I've worked with a couple of long punters like that, like (former Giants' and Jets' punter Dave) Jennings, a small-school guy from St. Lawrence, 6'4" or 6'5", played receiver in college, and turned out to be a great punter."
At 6'5", 212 lbs, Dragosavich hasn't only impressed Belichick. The Draft profilers at both SI.com and ESPN are effusive in their praise for the personable punter, noting especially his long legs, overall strength, terrific hang-time on kicks , explosive punts and athleticism. He has the quickness to get him downfield to support the coverage squad, and has worked hard enough in the weight room to be an effective wrap-up tackler . Focused and cool under pressure, he's had no problems kicking in poor weather conditions or into the wind. Dragosavich also possesses soft hands to secure the snap and a strong arm to throw the option pass. With experience as a receiver to be a threat on fake punts, he shows the athleticism and versatility consistently prized by the Patriots.
What's not to love? "The trouble with tall punters," according to Russ Lande of the Sporting News, "is that the smallest thing can throw off their technique ." ESPN agrees, suggesting that Dragosavich "must refine his technique to a two-step approach [from a three-step], as his long legs and stride get him too close to the line of scrimmage before he is able to get his punts away." SI.com adds that he "must improve as a directional punter", and "quicken his release time" to cut down on blocked kicks.
Asked if he believed he had shot at making the team, Dragosavich responded, "Basically, I just have to have the mentality to work as hard as I possibly can , and devote my life to this, and just see what happens every day. I'm going to be a sponge, take everything I can in, do whatever the coaches tell me and just be as good as i possibly can."
Playing for the New England Patriots is one opportunity this rookie doesn't want to punt away.