FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots got creative in the sixth round of the draft by selecting Ohio State defensive back Nate Ebner with the 197th pick. Ebner doesn't have a ton of football experience, but he is a former rugby star. His Ohio State biography said he was the MVP of the Rugby World Cup in 2007 and 2008, and at age 17, he was the youngest person ever to play in the National 7's.
The 6-foot, 205-pounder had 11 tackles and one sack in 2011.
Ebner is a special teamer who has limited experience at safety and nickel back. He impressed scouts with an electric showing at his pro day, which included a 4.48-second 40-yard dash. Ebner will compete like crazy, and he'll do anything he can to hit someone. While his football skills will be raw, he should be a fun player to watch.
Realistically, Ebner's best-case scenario may be the practice squad. If he lands on the roster, it will be as a special teamer.
Ebner got a chance to play for former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, who became a defensive assistant coach at Ohio State last year. Vrabel should have been able to provide some sound insight on Ebner's game throughout the pre-draft process. The Patriots also spent some time with Ebner before his pro day, and he said he spoke regularly with Patriots defensive assistant Brian Flores leading up to the draft. Clearly, the Patriots have been on Ebner for a while.
"It compares in the fact that we hit each other, and there's a lot of running and some big dudes."
–Ebner, on similarities between football and rugby.
Thumbnail via Twitter/@TheHitStick