The New England Patriots’ reported hire of Jeremy Springer as their special teams coordinator might seem strange on the surface, but he might bring an underrated value to Jerod Mayo’s staff.

Los Angeles was one of the worst special teams units in the league this season, but the former Rams coach preaches a positive attitude and can provide the human connection Mayo seeks as head coach.

Springer also had a hand in scouting and assisting the Rams front office. He worked with special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn to go through what the Rams called “tier four” prospect tape, according to The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, who observed Los Angeles’ draft process last year.

“I’ve joked with Jeremy (last) spring, ‘Club Springer’ is always open,'” Rams pro scout Matt Waugh told The Athletic last year.

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The first round of the NFL draft gets a lot of hype and attention for good reason, but the later rounds of the draft and undrafted free agents are what really shape a roster. Los Angeles depended on this portion of the draft in recent years because of its proclivity to trade away picks in the first three rounds. It was important to get these picks and signings right to help keep the team’s Super Bowl window open. The staff are given a “Les Fund,” named after undrafted players deemed valuable by general manager Les Snead.

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“The Rams add another layer to their UDFA evaluation process: They send their special teams coaches on the road for weeks in the spring not just to take an in-person look at kickers, punters and long snappers at college pro days but to further investigate any player who qualifies in the ‘tier four’ category, who isn’t an offensive lineman or quarterback,” Rodrigue wrote. “The road to the roster for those players — UDFAs ranging from safeties, to running backs, to inside linebackers and even outside linebackers — is often on special teams. So Blackburn and Springer see them all, and break them all down outside the facility (and inside of it, too — hence ‘Club Springer’).”

These are the edges the Patriots used to win consistently. Bill Belichick valued special teams and found players who could contribute in multi-faceted ways. Those gems still can be found on New England’s roster, but it appeared Belichick lost his fastball in recent drafts.

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Springer’s eye for talent in the later rounds and undrafted free agency can help Mayo fill out his roster that has a lot of holes not just at quarterback. Of course, Springer’s primary role on special teams will be important, but he could end up being a better hire than initial reactions indicate.

Featured image via Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports Images