At Oregon, Patrick Chung was often labeled an in-the-box safety with little versatility. With that in mind, it came as somewhat of a surprise when the New England Patriots selected Chung in the second round of the NFL draft.
The Patriots pride themselves on having versatility from top to bottom. Linebackers may be asked to play safety and even wide receivers line up at cornerback.
While the pre-draft talk suggested Chung won't be the right fit for the complex New England defense, the soon-to-be rookie bristles at the idea that he can't play multiple positions.
"That's what some people say, but you have to be versatile to play at the next level and I believe I can do it all," Chung said. "All the coaches up there are going to maximize my ability, so I'm just ready to go."
At 6-0 and 210 pounds, Chung compares favorably to Rodney Harrison, who is expected to announce his retirement in June. Harrison earned a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the NFL -- the kind of player who changes the outlook of a game with one big play.
"He is very physical. I love that in a guy," Chung said of Harrison. "He's very intense, passionate about the game. He's a leader. He makes plays. I mean, what more can you ask for?"
What the Patriots want is someone who can make an immediate impact on defense and add some much-needed punch to what has suddenly become a rather youthful, speedy secondary. Chung will join James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather in what should be an intense battle this summer to determine who plays where on defense.
The versatility factor might not be an issue since Chung played the rover position in college, which, he says, required him to "do everything."
"You're like a strong safety, free safety, corner, linebacker, you blitz, cover slot, cover tight ends, cover a deep pass, cover deep middle, curl, slide," he said. "Rover is just pretty much everything. It's the most versatile position."
Chung says he has his "own style," though he mentioned Meriweather as a possible comparison just to give fans an idea of what to expect in 2009.
"If I had to choose -- maybe Bob Sanders," Chung said. "At safety, it's all about versatility. That will get you a long way."