New England Patriots: Immediate Impact Rookies in 2015

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Nov 9, 2013; Annapolis, MD, USA; Navy Midshipmen long snapper Joe Cardona (93) strips the ball from Hawaii Warriors wide receiver Donnie King Jr. (49) during the first quarter of the Hawaii Warriors vs Navy Midshipmen game at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Round 5, pick 166: Joe Cardona, LS:

What exactly makes a great long snapper? Assumably velocity and accuracy, but head coach Bill Belichick surely could pontificate on the specific skills.  No NFL head coach puts the strong emphasis on special teams like Belichick. Whether it be kicker, punter, long snapper, or gunner the Patriots make no excuses for investing draft picks on special teams positions. New England has a need at long snapper and Navy’s Joe Cardona was the best in the NCAA. With head coach Bill Belichick’s ties to Navy made the selection of Cardona even easier.

 Whether Cardona even gets the chance to play in 2015 is up in the air. As a Naval Academy graduate he has to fulfill his military obligation but as he stationed at the nearby Newport, RI naval base he should be long snapping for the Patriots immediately.

 Round 6, pick 178: Matthew Wells, LB:

The “Shaq Thompson Light“ player of the draft, Wells is a cover linebacker with many of the same traits. Wells is definitely not Thompson, but there are similarities in their games. Wells lined up all over the field in college at Mississippi State and most often lined up shaded outside the tight end and rushed the quarterback or he dropped back into zone coverage.

Wells could be a coverage linebacker in the NFL in the role that Jonathan Casillas and Dane Fletcher recently filled in New England. Wells tested well on his pro day with a 4.44 40-yard dash and under 7 seconds on the 3-cone drill. Only six-foot-two and 222 pounds, Wells will have to earn a role on special teams in 2015. He could eventually earn a role on the dime defense in the Casillas/Fletcher role (provided he beats out Fletcher for a roster spot). New England could move Wells to strong safety but most likely will get a chance on the dime defense due to his coverage skills and ability to make plays in space.

Next: Round 6/7