FOXBORO -- For every draftable player, the time comes when his talent makes him worth the risk.
Some guys bring almost no risk and a world of talent. The cost to get that guy? High.. See: Luck, Andrew, No. 1 overall.
Others have talent but risky lurks. Could be health, level of competition, size or punching a cop. Teams pay a lot less for those players. See Dennard, Alfonzo, No. 224 overall.
Dennard was in jail as recently as last Monday, three days before the first round of the NFL Draft.
The first round was where the most optimistic predictions had Dennard being selected as recently as January.
But back to the part about the jail. According to Jon Nyatawa's story in Monday's Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald which quoted a Lincoln, Nebraska police affidavit, Dennard was twice told by police to leave downtown Lincoln as Friday night was turning to Saturday morning.
When officers next observed him, he was walking in a crosswalk, bumping and punching a "22-year-old." Having already been involved in two verbal arguments outside the Hour Lounge that police allegedly witnessed, the cops stepped in to place Dennard in custody. Dennard allegedly pushed and punched. It took four officers to arrest Dennard who was "cited on suspicion of third-degree assault of an officer, resisting arrest and third-degree assault."
A little leeway can sometimes be given to a guy in a dustup, especially when the details are murky. Who knows what was said or done previously? Was a girlfriend's honor besmirched? Were the police overaggressive? Was there a misunderstanding? Sometimes things happen all in a flash.
But when the official report says a guy was asked TWICE to leave an area and he's next seen bopping someone in the chest while crossing the street, that guy has to explain why he was too stupid to just leave in the first place.
Additionally, the punching of the law enforcement is a pretty bad look as well.
And some NFL teams won't even care about the explanation. Third-degree assault on a cop days before the draft is first-degree dumb.
The fact 223 names were called before his announced that reality.
Fortunately for Dennard, the talent he possesses and the risk of potentially hiring him intersected with the Patriots on the board at 224.
"Obviously the incident affected his draft position but certainly we’re aware of it," Bill Belichick explained. "We researched it, we found out as much as we could about it. Obviously, as an organization we’re comfortable making the selection where we did."
Seventh round. Hell, the Patriots hired a special teams ace who's played more rugby than football before they took a flier on Dennard. Where he was selected announces to Dennard: "Be good or be gone."
The Patriots did the same risk-management dance last year with a pair of picks. First, they selected Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett - a first-round talent - in the third round. Rumors of excessive partying and possible drug use drove him down the board until he was far-and-away the best guy there.
Marcus Cannon was a fifth-round selection. He dropped from being a second-round projection when doctors discovered just before the draft he had non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. A far different situation than Dennard's or Mallett's but, obviously, a risk still.
Belichick was asked how far Dennard was moved down the board when last weekend's events came to light.
"It works the same with every player," said Belichick. "You get the information that you have. If you get new information, you add to it and when it comes time to make decisions, you talk about all the information you have and put it all together and figure out what you feel like your best option is and what the best value is for your team."
The word value is an important one here because Dennard is a good player. At 5-10, 204, he worked out for Bill Belichick in March. The head coach came away impressed.
"He’s strong. He’s a physical player," said Belichick. "Obviously he played at a high level of competition, particularly in the 2010 season where they played so much in the passing conference (The Big 12) – a lot of spread out offenses, a lot of nickel, dime coverage and that type of thing.
"Then this year, when Nebraska went to the Big Ten, they saw really a whole different schedule, a whole different style of offensive football from those teams that they played so it was interesting to watch all that," said Belichick. "I think you can really see him play against – or anybody from Nebraska for that matter, whether it was Lavonte David or Alfonzo, whoever it is – see them play against – two different years, really two different style of offense. He’s gone up against a lot of good players and competed well."
If Alfonzo Dennard is seen rolling around on the sidewalk outside Toby Keith's Bar anytime in the next couple of years, it won't matter how versatile, tough and strong he seems on the football field.
He will almost certainly be dismissed like the garden-variety seventh-round pick he unfortunately turned himself into.