In the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft the New England Patriots selected Northwestern wide receiver Jeremy Ebert with the 235th overall pick. For the past two seasons, Ebert was the Northwestern Wildcats’ primary option at wide receiver.
There were at least five other receivers graded higher than Ebert. This group of receivers includes North Carolina’s Dwight Jones, Stanford’s Chris Owusu, Texas A&M’s Jeff Fuller, Arizona State’s Gerrell Robinson, and South Dakota State’s Dale Moss.
Jones had character concerns off the field, Owusu was injury prone, many NFL scouts questioned Fuller’s work ethic, Robinson had a lack of game-breaking speed, and Moss attended a small school at South Dakota State.
Northwestern is one of the hardest colleges to get accepted into, so some NFL talent evaluators might believe Ebert has a tremendous football IQ. He may not be the most physically imposing receiver, but there were no huge concerns with his decision-making off the gridiron. Ebert’s passion for football may explain why the Patriots took him with a late-round pick. He can be humble, yet very outgoing at the same time.
Ebert had 20 NFL teams watching him at Northwestern’s 2012 Pro Day. He initially weighed in at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds. The Wildcats wide out would follow that up with an unofficial 4.35 40 time before posting an official 4.41 time in the 40 yard dash. Ebert also recorded a 33-inch vertical jump along with a 6.70 time in the 3-cone drill.
Multiple NFL teams were impressed with what they saw out of Ebert at the Wildcats’ Pro Day. His production at Northwestern translated to success as well.
In 2009 as a sophomore, Ebert got off to a slow start, but by the end of the season he showed tons of promise. His best game of the year came in the 2010 Outback Bowl against the Auburn Tigers. He did struggle on some plays against Tigers cornerback Walter McFadden, but he finished the game with six receptions for 64 receiving yards.
Ebert asserted himself as the Wildcats’ leader on offense following the departure of quarterback Mike Kafka. He finished 2010 with 62 receptions, 953 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns, a then career-long 45- yard reception and an average of 15.4 yards per reception.
In 2011, Ebert returned to Northwestern for his senior season. Ebert had a career-high 75 receptions, 1,060 receiving yards, 11 receiving touchdowns, and a career-long 90-yard reception.
There is no question that the Patriots had other draft options available, but the Patriots selected with Ebert because of his pro day and his production for the Wildcats.
The Patriots are getting a B grade for taking Ebert. The Patriots could have taken a wide receiver with more overall skill and talent, but they get a hall pass for taking Ebert for three main reasons.
The Patriots have a good track record for taking players. New England did its homework by watching Ebert dominate his pro day, and decided that they had nothing to lose by taking him with a late-round flyer.
It’s the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Can you really be too subjective about this pick? I find it difficult to criticize the Patriots here, because late round picks for Super Bowl contenders sometimes miss the team’s final 53-man roster due to the competition of players competing for spots on the team.
The Patriots got a receiver with the 253rd overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft after winning Super Bowl 36 named David Givens. Givens was not a long term asset, but he did contribute as a slot receiver leading the Patriots with six receiving touchdowns on a 2003-2004 team that won Super Bowl 38. Givens won two Super Bowls with the Patriots before signing with the Tennessee Titans hoping for a bigger role.
For all we know Ebert, could contribute in the same exact way that Givens did. It’s highly unlikely that Ebert achieves this feat, but I will not rule the possibility of Ebert’s impact on the Patriots in 2012 and beyond.