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Saturday, June 9, 2012
Could Dennard be surprise contributor?

By Field Yates

Patriots rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard had an active day Thursday on the practice field, breaking up multiple passes and showing some of the talent that made him one of the top cornerbacks available in April's draft.

One draft analyst believes Dennard may be primed to become a key contributor in the Patriots secondary early in his career.

CBS Sports’ Rob Rang has conducted a series entitled “Finding the Fits” that profiles unheralded prospects who fit their new team’s schematic principles.

Rang points to Dennard’s “rare physicality, instincts and toughness” as good matches for the Patriots zone concepts, something on which the team more frequently relies, Rang writes. Moreover, he could see Dennard contributing as an outside corner, a slot corner, and even as a safety.

The first hurdle in Dennard making his mark in New England, as Rang mentions, is settling the legal issues from his April 21 arrest, which many believe dropped his draft stock.

Rang says that Dennard’s 2010 season at Nebraska was superior to teammate Prince Amukamara's, whom the Giants drafted with the 19th overall pick in the 2011 draft. Last season, an injury slowed Dennard at the beginning of the season, and his combine measureables were less stellar than some had hoped, according to Rang.

So far we’ve seen Dennard aligning at cornerback during on-field work at organized team activities. The Patriots will put the pads on for next week’s mandatory minicamp, which affords Dennard another opportunity to put his skill set on display in front of his coaches.