Matthew Wells (22) makes a play this past season. (Getty Images)
FOXBORO — Matthew Wells is legally blind in his right eye.
He has just 20 percent vision in the eye but that didn’t keep him from impressing with his speed and determination at Mississippi State.
“I am, by number. I can see, just not the reading, but it’s just the legal number for it,” Wells said. “I can see out of it. It’s been like that since I’ve been smaller, so it’s all I really know.”
Wells said his ability to read plays on the field is not impacted by his handicap. And apparently, the Patriots agree. On Saturday, the Patriots made the safety/linebacker/special teamer their first pick in the sixth round (178th overall).
“It was a great feeling,” Wells said in a conference call Saturday. “I was just sitting down having a bite to eat and I was just watching the draft and they called my name. I saw the Patriots pick and I was just overjoyed by the pick.”
As is the case with fast players (and Wells ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at his Mississippi State pro day), he is a prime candidate for special teams, possibly a gunner. He tallied 165 tackles in his four-year career with the Bulldogs with six sacks, one interception, 14 passes defended and three forced fumbles.
“A big strength for me would probably be length and speed, most of all,” Wells said. “We had to start out on special teams before we could even have a regular position. That’s a big thing as you transition from high school to college and then it would also be from college to the NFL. So, I’ve played pretty much every special teams and if I have to again I will.”
Does he have an idea of where the Patriots will be using him?
“I don’t really know. Whatever they want me to play, that’s the position I’ll play,” Wells added. “I don’t really know. Whatever position they have for me, that’s what I’m willing to do.”
Wells would even consider running back if it were suggested, given his small size at 6-foot-2, 222 pounds.
“Like I said, it doesn’t matter. Whatever position they think I’m best at and want to try me at, that’s what I’m willing to play,” Wells said.
Here’s more from Matthew Wells’ conference call Saturday at Gillette Stadium:
Q: What was it like playing for Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen?
MW: It was a great experience. He pretty much came in and changed the program, which I was coming in a year after he came in. It was a big change that he brought to the program. Like I said, he put us in a lot of positions to succeed. He also taught us how to be a great man along with being a great football player.
Q: How close are you with Deontae Skinner?
MW: We are pretty close. We played the same position for a couple years when he was there at [Mississippi] State. We are pretty close.
Q: Has he reached out to you at all since being drafted?
MW: Yeah, he reached out to me and told me congratulations and all that. We didn’t have too much time to say anything after, but he reached out to tell me congratulations.
Q: How would you describe your role in comparison to Benardrick McKinney in the Mississippi State defense?
MW: He’s an athletic guy, long. He’s a big guy, so he played middle linebacker. My position for that role, coach Mullen put me in the best position that he thought I could play. My role was to pretty much do everything basically that maximized my ability in my role on that Mississippi State team, covering receivers or even playing linebacker or whatever.
Q: Any connections to Boston or New England?
MW: None at all, no.
Q: Have you been here before?
MW: I have.
Q: What brought you to Boston?
MW: I went on a pre-draft visit.