Hidden Patriots: New England Stashed Hard-Hitting Rookie Safety On IR


Malik Gant had little chance of making the New England Patriots’ roster as an undrafted rookie.

His odds have improved as he heads into his second season. The Patriots were stacked at safety in 2019 with Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks and Nate Ebner on the roster. McCourty and Ebner are free agents now, and if one of them leaves the organization, it could free up a spot for a player like Gant.

Gant missed the 2019 season on injured reserve with an undisclosed ailment. He played sparingly in the 2019 preseason until their fourth and final game when he was on the field for 53 snaps. Gant allowed just two catches on five targets for 43 yards with a touchdown and pass breakup in the preseason.

He was known as a hard hitter at Marshall and graded out very well in Pro Football Focus’ draft guide. In fact, PFF called him their top best box safety and he led his position in defensive stops.

Gant also allowed just 18 catches on 34 targets for 206 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in coverage as a junior in 2018 before leaving college for the draft a season early. He went undrafted before signing with the Patriots as a free agent.

He didn’t test very well in the predraft process, running a 4.59-second 40-yard dash with a 4.3-second short shuttle, 7.45-second 3-cone drill, 34.5-inch vertical leap and 9-foot, 6-inch broad jump at 6-feet, 209 pounds. But he could be used as a hybrid linebacker/safety in the mold of Patrick Chung if he can bulk up more and not lose speed or quickness.

The Patriots currently only have Gant, Chung, Harmon and Brooks on their 90-man roster. Cornerbacks Jonathan Jones and Jason McCourty also can be used at safety, however.

Gant will probably have to prove himself on special teams to make the 53-man roster this summer. A strong training camp and preseason obviously also would help.

Gant is a player with promise if he can put it all together this summer. At the very least, he might not be quite as buried on the Patriots’ safety depth chart this summer.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images

Source: NESN

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