FOXBORO -- Patriots rookie receiver Jeremy Gallon has watched guys like Wes Welker and Steve Smith for years. As a smaller player -- Gallon checks in at about 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds -- he's kept tabs on the NFL's best pocket-sized wideouts and has modeled his game after theirs.
Since arriving to Gillette Stadium on Monday, Gallon has spent time in the film room with Patriots receivers coach Chad O'Shea and started to dissect the skills of another undersized pass-catcher: Julian Edelman.
Gallon explained that he's already learned a handful of helpful lessons from watching his new teammate.
"Just seeing how quick he is off the ball and how he uses his hands," Gallon said. "How good he is at the top of his routes. I’m just trying to imitate that and do what he do and follow in his footsteps because he’s doing something, everything right to me."
Like Edelman (pick No. 232 in the 2009 draft), Gallon (No. 244) was a seventh-round pick. And like Edelman, Gallon spent time as an option quarterback in college. Gallon also played running back and returned kicks as well.
Though one of the smallest players on the team, Gallon was named Michigan's MVP last season after breaking the single-season record at Ann Arbor (set by Braylon Edwards) for receiving yards with 1,373. He also set a Big Ten single-game record for receiving yards against Indiana with a whopping 369.
"He’s been a very productive player for Michigan," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Saturday. "Small guy, but compact, explosive. He’s had a lot of big plays for them. Real top traits. Hard-working kid, very competitive player. Been very productive at Michigan."
Gallon used his 4.48-second 40-yard dash speed and his instincts to make plays in the open field for the Wolverines. After drafting him, Belichick explained that Gallon may be able to do the same out of the slot for the Patriots.
Just because he's short, Belichick said, doesn't mean the team will need to cook up gimmick plays to utilize him.
"He’s an explosive guy," Belichick said. "He’s good with the ball in his hands, good after the catch, he can make people miss. Has real good quickness, and I’d say good playing strength for his size even though he’s a shorter guy. He’s compact, he’s strong, he has good balance. A lot of times he can catch the ball, break tackles and gain some extra yards after the play, that kind of thing.
"He’s not a running back, but he makes yards after the catch a lot of times with his running ability. I wouldn’t say this is a specialty player and you need specialty plays for him. I think he can go out there and play receiver."
Gallon is determined to do just that.
In a conference call with reporters on Saturday, he discussed a visit that quarterback Tom Brady made to Michigan last summer and said he hoped his career might mirror that of the sixth-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.
"I want to follow in his footsteps to be one of the greatest to play the game," Gallon said.
If Gallon can ever approach what Edelman did in 2013 when he was New England's leading receiver in terms of yards (1,056) and receptions (105), that will be more than enough to provide the Patriots with a great return on their investment.