Bubble watch: Nate Ebner

(Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2013.)

NAME: Nate Ebner


AGE: 24

2012 STATS: 15 games (no starts), 14 tackles

INJURY STATUS: Did not participate fully in OTAs/minicamp with unknown injury.


WHY HE SHOULD MAKE IT: Ebner remains an intriguing NFL prospect, coming from a rugby background with little experience on defense when he played football in college. He carved a role out on special teams last season, and if he builds on that, could provide significant value in a phase of the game the Patriots consider important. With some moving parts in the secondary, there is also potential for Ebner to gain experience on defense this preseason.

WHY HE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT: The Patriots' roster is deepest at linebacker and in the secondary, bolstered by four draft picks (Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, and Steve Beauharnais) this April. All of these players figure to have some role on special teams. Moreover, the Patriots are well-stacked at safety: Beyond veterans Adrian Wilson, Steve Gregory and Devin McCourty, they have Harmon and 2012 second-round pick Tavon Wilson. That makes Ebner potentially the sixth player at his position, putting him at risk of not making the cut.

CLOSEST COMPETITION: CB Marquice Cole, S Tavon Wilson, LB Mike Rivera