Potential Patriots: Specialists

With Stephen Gostowski and promising youngster Zoltan Mesko entrenched as the kicking specialists, the Patriots are well stocked for the future.

In addition, the team has some capable return men in Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman and Wes Welker, however, there is always room to add a dynamic threat.

Here are a couple specialists who could be on the late-round radar.

1. Leon Berry, WR, Mississippi State: While he played in only six games as a senior, the former Bulldog was a monster kick returner as a junior. In 2009, he compiled 1,015 yards on 38 returns, good for a 26.7 average. He also possesses good size (6-feet, 205 pounds) and speed (4.5) to make some contribution as a receiver down the line.

2. Ricardo Lockette, WR, Fort Valley State: A former track star, the small-school receiver/return specialist brings blazing speed. He ran a 4.34 at the combine and recorded a 39-inch vertical jump at his pro day. While he doesn’t have great football intelligence, experience or consistent hands, he did contribute with 23 catches as a senior. He also averaged 24 yards on kick returns and his speed and agility will help him succeed at the next level.

3. Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU: Undersized and without great timed speed, he is simply a playmaker on game day.  The 5-foot-9, 189 pound former Horned Frog was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year last season after averaging 12.9 yards on punt returns and 27.7 yards on kickoffs. While he only ran a 4.56 in the forty, his agility was on display with a 3.99 short shuttle and 6.70 three-cone drill. He also can contribute as a receiver, recording 50 catches as a senior.

4. Shaky Smithson, WR, Utah: A dominant returner, Smithson was rewarded for his strong senior season by being named a First-Team All-American. He led the nation in punt return average (19.72), punt return yards (572) and 100-yard punt return games (4). He also contributes in the kick return game, averaging over 24 yards per return during his career.

5. Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond: A solid athlete, he’s a small-school player who might just make it at the pro level. He has decent size (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) and good speed (4.40). He was voted All-CAA Football First Team for his strong play as a cornerback and punt returner as he averaged 12.4 yards per return. His versatility and upside as a cornerback would make him an intriguing pick for the Pats.

 

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