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Patriots draft Alfonzo Dennard 224th despite arrest

NEW YORK -- Bill Belichick continues to swim against stream.

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The New England Patriots coach's latest NFL draft pick, Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, was a classic risk-reward selection. Dennard's stock sunk like a stone after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a cop, so he fell from a late second-round possibility all the way to No. 224 in the seventh round.

"Alfonzo is a guy we spent a lot of time on," Belichick told The Associated Press. "Obviously, the incident affected his draft position, but we researched it, we found out as much as we could about it."

Dennard struggled in one-on-one coverage at the Senior Bowl, but he was viewed as a smart, tough safety who could excel in a zone scheme. He surely would have been drafted Friday if not for the arrest.

"He's strong, he's a physical player," Belichick said. "Obviously, as an organization, we were comfortable with making the selection where we did."

The Patriots aren't afraid to take chances on guys the draftniks don't like, or even former rugby players. They also don't mind taking a talented player who ran into some trouble in college, Aaron Hernandez and Ryan Mallett being two recent examples.

When you have Belichick's track record, you can afford to take chances. They have paid off more than not.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @GreggRosenthal.

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