Seventh-rounder Jeremy Gallon looking to be Patriots’ latest steal
|07.03.14 at 6:17 pm ET|
Seventh-round picks by the New England Patriots have actually panned out fairly well with Patrick Pass (2000), David Givens (2002), Tully Banta-Cain (2003) Matt Cassel (2005), Julian Edelman (2009), Brandon Deaderick (2010) and Alfonzo Dennard (2012).
This season, the Patriots selected Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon in the seventh-round, No. 244 overall. Being versatile, athletic and having a tremendous work ethic, Gallon could be the latest Patriots success story coming from their final pick in the draft.
“He was our rock,” said Jeff Hecklinski, the Michigan wide receivers coach in a phone interview. “He was the guy that you were shocked when Jeremy didn’t make a play or didn’t make a block. He was a guy that wouldn’t come off the field. I gave the guy his rotation and he said, ‘Coach, I’ll handle my rotation.’ I said, ‘When you’re tired, you let me know,’ and he would never let me know. He is a coaches dream.”
Working primarily as an outside receiver at Michigan, Gallon improved each year during his four years as a Wolverine and finished his senior season totaling 1,373 yards receiving, which broke the school record for receiving yards in a season, previously held by Braylon Edwards.
“I think at first he had a lot of skill and didn’t really understand the game of football, he just played the game on a lot of instinct,” Hecklinski said. “I think as he grew at understanding the game — the techniques and fundamental’s of being able to see coverages, understand coverages and really understanding the total concept of the game — how people are trying to defend, what they are trying to defend and how do I get open within that coverage. I think by the time he became a senior, he could work within the system and the coverages to find openings and get open.”
Going from 450 yards receiving his sophomore season to 1,373 yards receiving didn’t come easy — he put in the work. Often spending extra time with his coaches in the meeting room and extra sessions in the weight room, the 24-year-old turned into one of the better players on the entire Michigan roster.
“The one thing about Jeremy, is Jeremy is going to work,” Hecklinski said. “He doesn’t know anything different. To him this is his job now and he will be there from 7:30 in the morning to whenever, as late at night as he needs to be. He is a gym-rat in those regards and I think that’s one of the things I loved most about him. He is one of those guys. He loves being in the office and the weight room, he loves being on the field.”
Coming to the Patriots as a wide receiver means competing with a number of veterans as the team already has Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, Josh Boyce, Brandon LaFell and Kenbrell Thompkins all seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart.
The thing Gallon has going for him is his ability to play special teams, which head coach Bill Belichick has shown the more positions you can play, the better chance you have of making the team. The 5-foot-8, Apopka, Florida native returned both kicks and punts in his four years at Michigan.
With the Patriots losing their main kick returner in LeGarrette Blount to free agency, they will be looking for someone to fill the role.
“He was a punt and kickoff returner,” Hecklinski said. “He can do anything. He’s a very skilled kid — very natural punt returner. Not a go all the way guy, but a guy you can put back there and feel comfortable that the ball is going to get caught and he is going to get you positive yardage. He’s a tough kid too. He can hit, he can tackle. We could’ve played Jeremy at corner or safety and he would’ve been one of our best DB’s.”
The natural connection for Gallon and the Patriots is with Michigan-grad, quarterback Tom Brady, who was also a late-round draft pick, but according to Hecklinski, Gallon already has some of Patriots characteristics with both how he views and plays the game — a team-first, work hard attitude.
“The unique thing about the Patriots, not only with Tom there and it being a Michigan connection, but the mindset of what the New England Patriots are and the mindset of Jeremy fit together very well,” he said. “When you look at tough, hard-nosed players that play the game because they love the game. Obviously when you get to the [NFL] that’s their job, but if you ask Jeremy would you do this for free, he’d say yes. He just loves the game. Those are the guys who have made their name with the New England Patriots, guys with that type of mentality. It’s a good fit for a number of different reasons.”
Although it’s far too early to say Gallon is the latest steal in the seventh-round for the Patriots, he certainly has the tools to become one.