New England Patriots kick-off in 43 days: profiling No. 43 Nate Ebner


Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them and create a Week 1 countdown-oriented, jersey number-dictated player profile series. Yesterday we looked at No. 44 Matthew Wells, and the day before that it was No. 45 D.J. Lynch. Because today marks 43 days until the New England Patriots open 2015, we are profiling No. 43, safety and special teams ace Nate Ebner.

Selected by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Ebner entered football after an illustrious rugby career. At age 17, he was the youngest player ever to make the National 7’s, and was the MVP for the U-19 and U-20 teams in back-to-back years at the IRB Junior World Championships.

More from Patriots News

Ebner didn’t touch a competitive football field until his junior year at Ohio State, when he managed to walk-on to the squad. In 36 career games with the Buckeyes, Ebner registered 30 special teams tackles. His efforts in that realm of the game drew the eye of special teams expert Bill Belichick, and that’s how he ended up with the Patriots.

Three years into his career, Ebner is nearing Matthew Slater territory as an elite Patriots special teamer. In each season, Ebner has been one of the top special teams tacklers, and his ability to fill-in at safety has earned him accolades from Belichick. Here’s what the hoodie said about Ebner before Super Bowl XLIX:

"His development has really been outstanding. I would probably put him in the, not the all-time top, but maybe in the top-five percent all time of players that I’ve coached, from where they were in college to how they grew in the NFL. [He] has adapted in a relatively short amount of time to the knowledge of our defense, to the understanding of opponents’ offenses, to instinctiveness and reading and recognition at a position that he plays right in the middle of the field, which is among the most difficult – inside linebacker and safety – where the number of things that can happen is the greatest."

Ebner may be one of the least qualified professional football players in the entire NFL considering his lack of formal playing experience, but his place on the Patriots’ roster is safe as we enter training camp. He will be listed as the last safety on the depth chart, but that’s just fine with him; Ebner makes his mark on special teams, and it helps the Patriots win games.

If you’re interested in Ebner’s story, check out this pre-Super Bowl XLIX piece by Austin Murphy of

In case you missed them, here are the profiles for No. 46 james Develin, No. 47 Michael Hoomanawanui, No. 48 Geneo Grissom No. 49 Joe Cardona, No. 50 Rob Ninkovich, No. 51 Jerod Mayo, No. 52 Dane Fletcher, No. 53 Eric Martin, No. 54 Dont’a Hightower, No. 55 Jonathan Freeny, No. 58 Darius Fleming, No. 59 Chris White, No. 60 David Andrews, No. 61 Marcus Cannon and No. 62 Ryan Wendell.

Be sure to check back on Musket Fire tomorrow morning as we celebrate 42 days until Week 1 by profiling No. 42, rookie defensive end/outside linebacker Xzavier Dickson.

Next: Predicting 53-man depth chart