(Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2012.)
NAME: Alfonzo Dennard
2011 STATS: 10 games (all starts), 31 total tackles, 6 pass break-ups -- with Nebraska
INJURY STATUS: No known injuries
CHANCE OF MAKING 53-MAN ROSTER: 45%
WHY HE SHOULD MAKE IT: Considered an early-to-mid round talent by some draft analysts, Dennard slipped to the seventh round after an arrest five days before April's draft. While Dennard will begin low on the depth chart, the landscape ahead of him could change. In an often unsettled defensive backfield, Dennard could quickly find a significant role if he emerges this summer.
WHY HE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT: For perspective, the Patriots began the 2009 season with five cornerbacks (Leigh Bodden, Jonathan Wilhite, Shawn Springs, Darius Butler, and Terrence Wheatley); the 2010 season with five cornerbacks (Devin McCourty, Butler, Wilhite, Kyle Arrington, and Wheatley), and last season with five cornerbacks (McCourty, Arrington, Bodden, Ras-I Dowling, and Antwaun Molden). The likelihood that the Patriots will carry more than five cornerbacks in 2012 is slim, especially given competition at other positions. With the top three spots held by McCourty, Arrington, and Dowling, and the fourth spot likely held by Sterling Moore, that leaves, at most, one spot open at the position. In order to be valuable on the 53-man roster, the fifth cornerback will need to make an impact on special teams. While Dennard may show promise on defense, he may still lose out to potentially superior special teams players such as Marquice Cole or Malcolm Williams.
CLOSEST COMPETITION: CB Sterling Moore, S/CB Will Allen, CB Marquice Cole, CB Malcolm Williams