New England’s signing of 5’8″, 183 pound Olympic sprinter and former Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps has sparked some debate about what his roll could be with the team. In college, Demps was a running back, although his slight frame will almost certainly prevent him from playing that position in the NFL. He ran for 2,470 yards at Florida, averaging 6.7 yards a carry while scoring 23 touchdowns in Orange & Blue. However, Demps also weighed about 15 pounds more as a senior, losing the weight this past year to compete in the London Olympic games. Demps was also a threat on special teams, averaging 29 yards per kick return over his career as a Gator. That makes him versatile, and BB loves his versatility. Demps was reportedly recruited to New York by his former teammate Tim Tebow, but instead of choosing the dark side, he landed in Foxborough with the Patriots.
Bill Belichick has been quoted as recently saying that he is not impressed with his team’s kick off returns. Signing Demps will do one of two things: Put pressure on the current return men to up the ante, or give the Patriots a speed demon to fill that roll. He ran a 4.26 40 yard dash at his pro day, which should make him the fastest player on the Patriots roster by a long shot. Outside of his ability to produce in the return game, we may see Demps play a small roll on offense as a slot receiver. His speed can certainly be used as a weapon out of that spot, and Wes Welker can’t play every snap. Demps caught 57 passes for 481 yards at Florida, 8.4 yards per catch. The fact that Demps can do a number of things could earn him a spot on the 53 man roster by the time the regular season rolls around in September. His athletic ability certainly makes it an interesting thing to talk about. We won’t know his role with the Pats until we see him in one of the remaining three preseason games, but you can be certain that whatever he is asked to do, he will do it very well.