Last weekend, 32 NFL teams drafted 254 players over the course of seven rounds. When those rounds ended, each team sought to fill their 90-man rosters with undrafted free agents (UDFAs), providing hundreds of underdogs with the opportunity to fight for a roster spot.
Just about every year during Coach Bill Belichick’s tenure, a UDFA has made the regular roster. In 2018, New England called on defensive back J. C. Jackson out of Maryland, who ended up playing in 13 games, starting five. From center David Andrews (2015) to cornerback Malcolm Butler (2014), you can always look for potential contributions from these rookies.
Jakobi & Meyers Working For You: Does everyone get this? Might be a local thing. Anyway, New England takes a look at receiver Jakobi Meyers (6-2, 203) of NC State to bolster a position that seems in flux in Foxboro.
Why Undrafted: Not the fastest (4.63-second 40-yard dash), nor the strongest (13 bench reps), nor the quickest (4.23-second 20-yard shuttle), Meyers often relied on guile to get open. Unfortunately for him, guile doesn’t show up at a combine workout. Served mostly as a possession-type receiver, as he averaged only 11.4 yards per catch.
Why Invited: My predictive pick for New England’s Take-A-Chance-On-This-Receiver Guy, Meyers racked up the stats, hauling in 92 passes for 1,047 yards and four touchdowns. And, really, what better place to bring a possession pass-catcher than New England, where Julian Edelman has averaged 10.8 yards per reception in his career? Meyers also ran a 7.07 3-cone drill, decent for a bigger receiver.
High School Fun Fact: Meyers played quarterback at Arabia Mountain High in Georgia, where he passed for 1,834 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for 534 yards and eight TDs. For the Wolfpack, he moved to wide receiver his second year after redshirting as a freshman.
The X-Man Cometh: Hmm. Xavier Ubosi (6-3, 215) of Alabama-Birmingham makes yet another big receiver added to the stable. I feel like the Patriots are up to something. Jump ball offense, everybody!
Why Undrafted: Ubosi didn’t exactly give UAB statisticians carpal tunnel syndrome in 2018, as he caught a meager 35 passes for 837 yards and eight touchdowns. His 33.5-inch vertical at his pro day also falls short of notable for a receiver. Fascinating highlight reel for Ubosi where he seems to run a fly pattern along the sideline on every play. Seriously, the man’s route tree is a telephone pole.
Why Invited: Those meager stats added up (or divided, I guess?) to a jaw-plunking-the-table 23.9 yards-per-catch average. Ubosi ran a respectable 4.50-second 40 and executed a 10-foot-5 broad jump at his pro day. We’ll see what he can do this summer.
High School Fun Fact: At Reseda High in California, Ubosi lettered in football, basketball, and track.
Nothing Comes Between Me And My Calvin: Boy, the ’80s were a heady time. We mentioned Texas offensive tackle Calvin Anderson (6-4, 292) in our Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em column as a potential add to New England’s OL group.
Why Undrafted: A bit undersized for an NFL tackle at under 300 pounds (which sounds odd, but such is the life of an NFL tackle). Anderson only played one year at Texas after transferring from Rice, so his sample size of playing at that level remained small.
Why Invited: No matter the size, it proved a strong sample, as Anderson made All-Big-12 Honorable Mention, starting all 14 games. At Rice, he earned two All-Conference USA honors. As noted in our snubs piece, he had a great pro day, with what would have been a combine-OL-best 7.20-second 3-cone, a hypothetical second-place 4.45-second 20-yard shuttle, plus a sixth-best 30 bench presses.
High School Fun Fact: At Westlake High in Austin, Anderson was named to the All-Central Texas Team as a defensive end his senior year.
Hall In The Family: Linebacker Terez Hall (6-1, 228) out of Missouri makes our UDFA list as a potential special teams player and part-time linebacker. He was invited to the combine but could not participate due to suffering a pectoral strain during the bench press.
Why Undrafted: Not working out at the combine may have put scouts off a bit, and his pro day didn’t help much. Though we’d hope for a bit more speed from an undersized linebacker, Hall ran a 4.90 40, which is only slightly faster than an incoming tide. His 4.38 20-yard shuttle also failed to impress.
Why Invited: In terms of workouts, Hall’s 39.5-inch pro-day vertical would have tied for fourth-best combine linebacker. For what it’s worth, he also has massive, 10.38-inch hands, his palm fronds even bigger than 6-foot-5 Patriots rookie tackle Yody Cajuste’s 10-inchers. Hall also served as team captain as a senior. This mishmash of leadership and physicality helped Hall notch 75 tackles (nine for loss) and lead the team with five sacks and seven hurries. He also picked off a pass.
College Fun Fact: Hall tallied seven tackles as a true freshman, mostly as a special-teamer.
The Sitting Of St. Louis: Miami offensive tackle Tyree St. Louis (6-5, 314) waited patiently by the phone and eventually got the call, as the hefty Hurricane moves up the coast to Foxboro for the spring.
Why Undrafted: St. Louis ran a 5.42-second 40, a 4.78 20-yard shuttle, and an 8.12 3-cone, showing the agility of a clawfoot tub.
Why Invited: The man has notable size, plus an 85-inch wingspan that would make a condor self-conscious. He made All-ACC Honorable Mention as a left tackle, starting all 13 games of 2019, continuing an eventual streak of 34 starts in a row. Demonstrated versatility by starting at right tackle his junior year. Lots of tape on this guy, so we have to assume the Patriots liked what they saw.
High School Fun Fact: While a senior at IMG Academy in Florida, ESPN.com ranked St. Louis top nine for offensive linemen in the state.
OK Gauthier: Belichick a) seems to have had a good time in Miami, and b) does not seem satisfied with New England’s O-line depth. Waiting for teams to call must have turned Miami’s Tyler Gauthier (6-5, 300) upside-down and inside-out, but the interior lineman could add another body to the interior offensive line, an area that could see some changes once contracts start wrapping up next year.
Why Undrafted: Gauthier failed to run at his pro day – or rather, failed to complete his running drills because he pulled a hamstring on his 40. Also, Miami’s offense averaged only 167 yards passing per game.
Why Invited: Started at center for the last 25 games for the Hurricanes, earning All-ACC Honorable Mention in 2017. The Hurricanes rushed for 192 yards per contest, with their top two ball carriers combining for a 7.3-yard average. Gauthier has good size to play anywhere on the line, and has experience at guard (as a sophomore). Miami got beaten by LSU last season, but if you watch the game tape, you’ll see a center who consistently holds up in many different situations.
High School Fun Fact: Throughout his career at Venice High in Florida, Gauthier played every position on the offensive line.
Personal Fun Fact: My father lived in Venice, Florida, for years. Nice spot – and great school sports.
Catcher In The Ryan: New England skipped over slot receivers during the draft, so they look to Auburn’s Ryan Davis (5-10, 189) to take up some of the slack this summer. (Or is that “take up some of the slot?” Huh? Eh? Anyone?) Anyway, prepare for a strong statistical preseason from Davis, followed by an off-and-on tenure on the practice squad. (But again: who knows?)
Why Undrafted: A smaller pass-catcher like Davis needs speed and quickness to stick out, yet he showed little of either, running a so-so 7.09 3-cone and 4.23 20-yard shuttle at the combine, followed by a 4.63 40 at his pro day that could possibly outpace most beached jellyfish. He maintained a mediocre 8.7-yards-per-catch average at Auburn. Only scored one touchdown last season.
Why Invited: Davis reeled off more production than a South Asian film company, ending his career with a school-record 178 catches. Last season, he received an invite from the East-West Shrine Game after catching 69 passes (nice) for 546 yards and one TD. Davis also ran the ball three times last year for 12 yards, and he went two-for-two passing, scoring touchdowns both times. He averaged 9.9 yards per punt return (22 for 217). Fun highlight reel of Davis here, with the bonus of watching rookie Patriot Jarrett Stidham throwing to him.
High School Fun Fact: As a senior quarterback at Lakewood High in St. Petersburg, Florida, Davis passed for 2,140 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 1,233 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Gant Get No Satisfaction: Even though safety Malik Gant (6-0, 209) had to wait around until after the draft to find out where his football career might take him, the Marshall product has a chance to stick around as a backup defensive back and special teams player.
Why Undrafted: Gant’s combine performance came off like beige wallpaper, as he didn’t tend to stand out. A 4.63-second 40, 34.5-inch vertical jump, and 9-foot-6 broad jump seem plain enough, but his 7.45-second 3-cone and 4.3 20-yard shuttle times took his draft stock down like Frazier.
Why Invited: Not a small guy, Gant had 17 reps on the bench press for a nice size/strength combo. The safety ranked second on the team in tackles with 89 total (nine for loss), with one sack, two interceptions, eight pass break-ups, and three QB hits, showing the stats of a player who covers almost as much field as the marching band. Also have to like the fact that Gant walked on to the team at Marshall and earned a scholarship before his redshirt sophomore season.
High School Fun Fact: The Woodson High (Wash., D. C.) product played both safety and corner and also participated in track and field.
College Fun Fact: Gant’s player page lists him at 6-foot-2. Love when that happens: Good God, he shrank!
You Set, Bro? Brosette?With running backs Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead both missing time last year due to injury, time to bring in another ball carrier to bolster the position. In this case, LSU’s Nick Brosette (5-11, 209) got the call and hopes to bring his SEC prowess to an even bigger stage.
Why Undrafted: As is the case with many UDFAs, Brosette’s combine numbers left more to be desired than the finale of “Lost,” summarized in one time – a 4.72-second 40 – that might fail to outrun certain species of kudzu.
Why Invited: We’ll give you three letters, starting with an “S,” ending with a “C,” and having an “E” in the middle. The LSU captain and East-West Shrine Game honoree ran for over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2018, averaging 4.3 yards per carry this season and 4.7 in his career. He caught 14 passes for 78 yards (5.6 avg.). He has also shown strength off the field, overcoming hardships such as the sudden death of his older brother during Brosette’s freshman year at LSU.
High School Fun Fact: Named the Most Outstanding Player of University High’s Louisiana state championship game his senior year (37 rushes for 272 yards and three TDs), Brosette holds the state record for most rushing touchdowns over four years (141).
Ross Well, New Mexico: Things are looking pretty good for cornerback D’Angelo Ross (5-8, 185) of – you guessed it – New Mexico, who will probably take a fully identified flying object to Foxboro to show he can stick. A bit of a Keion Crossen vibe from him, as you’ll see below.
Why Undrafted: In short (ha!), while 5-foot-8 on a running back seems spunky and adorable, 5-foot-8 on a defensive back just seems inadequate. Also, New Mexico does not play in a football hotbed (all due respect, Mountain West Conference), and they went 3-9 last season.
Why Invited: Much like Crossen did in 2018, Ross had an eye-popping workout this spring, running a 4.32-second 40 at his pro day and jumping a notable 39-inch vertical. That 40 would have made him the second-fastest cornerback at the combine; the vertical would have tied for 10th. Ross ranked third in tackles for the Lobos with 57 (two for loss), with one interception, six pass break-ups, and one forced fumble.
High School Fun Fact: As a senior at South Hills High in West Covina, California, Ross played both defense (three interceptions), and offense (six TDs: four receiving, two rushing).
I’m A Loser, Baby, So Why Don’t You Kill Me? A player who goes undrafted might feel like a loser, but considering the “things-are-gonna-change-I-can-feel-it” level of turnover in Patriots tight end personnel this off-season, Texas’ Andrew Beck (6-3, 252) has a shot to contribute.
Why Undrafted: Beck has size but nothing remarkable for the NFL level. Came to Texas as a linebacker but converted before his freshman season began. His senior year stats (28 catches, 281 yards, two touchdowns) didn’t exactly send teams sprinting toward their draft boards. He missed all of last season due to a foot injury.
Why Invited: The First Team All-Big-12 pass-catcher and blocker had an amazing pro day with scores that would have come in top 10 for combine tight ends. His 24 bench reps would have tied for the most; his 4.55-second 40 would have come in second, his 4.19 20-yard shuttle third, 7.11 3-cone fourth, 9-foot-11 broad jump sixth, and 34-inch vertical tied for seventh. In this reel vs. USC, Beck lines up in the backfield, tight on the line, and spread out. Versatile guy.
High School Fun Fact: As a senior linebacker at Plant High in Tampa, Beck notched 110 tackles, seven sacks, and three fumble recoveries, helping the Panthers to an 11-2 record.
So, who makes the 53-man roster in September? Who sticks around Foxboro on the practice squad? Hard to say, but right now I’ll go with the guy whom I chose the Pats to pick during the draft, N. C. State’s Meyers. Should be good for a few catches in August, at least.
Readers, thank you so much for loaning my columns your eyeballs, not just this post-season, but for the past 10 years on BSMW and Patriots Daily. It’s been a great trip that has given me the pleasure of hanging on as a passenger. Hope to see you in Foxboro this summer.
Chris Warner wrote a column about Patriots camp in 2008. I say it still holds up. You can tell him your thoughts at email@example.com or on Twitter @cwarn89. Yeah, baby!