When he was 8 years old, Leonard Myers suffered a broken hip. He was sprinting after an ice cream truck when he was run over by another kid on a bike. Not knowing the extent of his injury, he got up and walked home.
It was clear early that Myers was a tough kid. That toughness impressed the Patriots, and if Myers can recover from the foot injury that limited him as a senior and stay healthy, he should establish a role for himself.
"I think they picked up a good player at that spot," said Cleveland Browns assistant Chuck Pagano, who coached Myers at Miami. "He got hurt early last fall, but he played injured. If he stays healthy, [the Patriots] have a steal. Leonard had good size and speed, he supports the run, and he is a smart player with good instincts."
Pagano also feels Myers has solid kick return capabilities, but the presence of Santana Moss at Miami did not give him a chance to display those skills. Pagano said Myers is the type of player who makes things happen once he gets the ball in his hands.
Ironically, Moss' presence still gave Myers an advantage many cornerbacks don't have. On a daily basis, he covered first-round picks Moss and Reggie Wayne in practice. So he is used to a constant high level of play.
"That was one of the recruiting tools we used at Miami," Pagano said. "If a kid comes in as a defensive back or wide receiver, they know they will go against some of the best football players in the country day in and day out. With that experience, Leonard won't be intimidated in New England. To play, you need a certain amount of cockiness, but you can't let it go overboard. He's got the right demeanor. If someone catches a pass on him, he considers it something of a fluke, and he won't go into the tank or let it happen again."
Pagano first saw Myers in person at a Dillard High School basketball game, where Myers put his athleticism on display.
"He was phenomenal on the court," Pagano said. "His leaping ability was simply outstanding, and he was playing above the rim. He was blocking shots away on one end and dunking at the other."
"Leonard is a tough, hard-nosed player, and I think it will give us good competition at corner," Head Coach Bill Belichick said. "Again we have been talking about improving our third-down defense and getting more guys who can cover and play in the kicking game, and I think he falls into that category."
Strengths — Good size and strength; matches up well with bigger, more physical receivers
Weaknesses — Prone to lapses in focus; lacks great speed and misses too many tackles
Personal — Lettered in football, basketball, track and baseball at Dillard High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Comparable NFL player — Phillippi Sparks, Dallas Cowboys — Marginal recovery speed; could be a safety
What They're Saying...
"He is unreliable, but appears to have enough ability to play at the next level if he can learn to focus on every down. Looks like a high-round pick on some tapes, and a free agent on others."
-Joel Buchsbaum, author of Pro Football Weekly's 2001 Draft Preview