Breaking Down the Patriots Undrafted Free Agent Class and Some Thoughts on Why the Patriots Didn’t Draft a Receiver
Ten new draft picks and many more Undrafted Free Agents (UDFAs) will be making their way to New England. I doubt there will be a rookie mini-camp. More likely they will have general Zoom chats with the new players and then have position specific meetings with their position coaches.
I now understand why no Wide Receivers were drafted by the Patriots. Thanks to Doug Kyed from NESN for posting his performance spreadsheet for the top draft eligible players. What it showed was that only one of the top receivers met the minimum performance requirement in the 3-cone drill. The Patriots more than any other teams rely on this measurement as an indication of quickness rather than straight line speed. Many of the top receivers refused to perform the drill at the combine because they were afraid that it would hurt them by exposing they were just straight line fast. The Patriots received some undo criticism for not taking a receiver in the draft despite this being what was called the best WR draft in history. The Patriots made up for it in signing 4 slot WR’s as UDFAs. Will Hastings (Auburn) ran a 6.55 3-cone at his Pro Day. This after recovering from two ACL injuries. Sean Riley (Syracuse) ran an even better 6.41. Julian Edelman set the bar at 6.66. The Patriots standard is 6.89 for WR.
Un-Drafted Free Agent Class
WR Will Hastings Auburn 5’10’ 175# – 4.51 40, 6.55 3-come, 4.03 SS
Hastings is a fascinating story – he received no D1 offers despite being only the 2nd player in Arkansas HS history to have 2000 receiving yards in a season. Hastings played for Pulaski HS. Their coach does not believe in punting and he goes for an on-side kick after every score. I had read about this years ago. Hastings was the designated onside kick specialist. He sent out a recruiting highlight tape and Auburn responded to his onside kick specialty giving him a preferred walk on offer (no scholarship). He took it and gambled on himself. A receiver went down in practice and Hastings got an opportunity and ran with it. He was Jarrett Stidham’s slot receiver during his Junior year at Auburn. During Hastings Senior year he injured his ACL and lost some time. He came back but injured it again, losing the remainder of the season. He was ready for his Pro Day (one of the few that actually occurred – see times above). He is light and has small hands which might be an issue. He is also a return specialist. Hastings received a $57,500 guaranteed contract with a $7500 Signing Bonus.
WR Sean Riley Syracuse 5’8” 175# – 4.42 40, 6.41 3 Cone, 3.99 SS
Riley had a much better Junior year than Senior season due to well documented QB issues at Syracuse. Terrific return man finishing 3rd all-time in ACC with 115 returns. Accounted for 4, 358 all-purpose yards in his career. Again size could be an issue.
WR Jeff Thomas Miami
well documented issues by Steve Balestrieri – only received $2500 guaranteed contract.
WR Isaiah Zuber Mississippi St 5’ 11” 184 – 4.42 40
Played three season at Kansas St and transferred as a grad student. Expected big things but they never materialized. As a Junior led Big 12 in Punt Return average. Had 52 catches for 619 yards and 5 TDs. He had 50 catches as a Soph as well. Played in every game over his three years at K State. Had offseason hip surgery before Senior year. Played in all 13 games but only managed 14 catches for 211 yards and 2 TD’s.
QB J’Mar Smith Louisiana Tech 6’ 228
Three starter, Junior year 3,160 yards 15 TD 10 Int 57.3 comp %. Senior 2,814 yards 17 TD with 4 Int 65.8 Comp % and 1st team all Conference USA. Trains with Tom Shaw, Tom Brady’s passing guru. Suspended the last two games of the regular season and took responsibility for breaking the team rule. Was reinstated for the post season game against Miami (14- 0 win). A mobile quarterback received $30K in guaranteed money.
QB Brian Lewerke Michigan St 6’2” 213 – 4.95 40. 7.18 3 cone
Lewerke is somewhat of an enigma. He had a brilliant sophomore season with 20 TD passes to 7 Int and rushing for 559 yards and 5 more TDs. However he took a step back the next two seasons. He never regained that promise of the sophomore year. A three year starter and 2 time captain. Perhaps some coaching can clean up some mechanical flaws and instill some confidence back into Lewerke. If nothing else he is a camp arm. Never completed 60% of his passes in any one season.
TE Rashod Berry Ohio St. 6’3”263 – 4.77 40 (est),
Berry had 17 catches for 417 yards and 4 TDs over his career at Ohio St. As a senior he only had 2 catches due to numerous injuries pushing him down the depth chart. He played more of an H back/ fullback role. He also played DE. Played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl with two catches for 54 yds but had a big fumble. With James Devlin announcing his retirement, could Berry be a replacement?
TE Jake Burt Boston College 6’3” 260 – 4.92 40 est
Burt had the opportunity to take over the TE position at BC after Tommy Sweeney left for the Pros. He had 6 other TEs he split time with never taking control. His career numbers 23 receptions for 307 yards and 2 TDs. He did have nearly half of his receptions (9) for first downs. He was targeted 2 times as a Senior and had 15 catches. It was reported he received an $80K guaranteed contract. That would seem very high for someone with limited production in college.
RB JJ Taylor 5’5”185 – 4.61 40, 33” Vert 7.0 3 cone
Taylor is a very productive and exciting college player. He just isn’t very tall. He is fearless as he is actually more of an inside runner for a player standing 5’ 5”. As a true freshman he ran 38 times for 261 yards (6.9 YPC) until sidelined after 4 games with a broken ankle. For his career he had 3,363 yds rushing, 18 TDs; 48 receptions 421 yds and another 2 TDs. His KO returns were 41 for 988 (24.09 per return) and another TD. Not as shifty nor fast. Doesn’t have that second gear. I think of “Mini” Mack Herron when seeing Taylor. I think he will be a fan favorite in camp.
CB Myles Bryant Washington 5’ 8”, 183# – 4.62 40, 6.81 3 cone
Why Bryant wasn’t drafted is beyond me? Perhaps his height and 4.62 40. His 3 –cone is good and within the Patriots standard for the position. Had three INT as a senior despite teams not throwing his way (14 of 21 passes were completed in front of him for 0 TDs). 25 starts the last two years with 129 tackles and teams not throwing his way. Their loss our gain. It will be tough making the team but a possible Practice Squad is likely.
LB Kyahva Tezino San Diego St 6’ 235#
Three year starter at ILB. A hard hitter in limited space. Not good when he has to move. Has trouble covering TE’s. Patriots paid him a hefty guaranteed salary of $70k. Sounds like a replacement for Elandon Roberts.
LB De’Jon Harris Arkansas 6’ 234# – 4.69 40, 7.38 3 cone
“Scoota” is a three year starter in the SEC. Each year he had over 100 tackles per season, leading the SEC in tackles as a Junior with 118 tackles. Powerful and physical player without much range. Strictly a two down player. Will need to impress on Special Teams in order to make a team. Obviously the Pats wanted him by guaranteeing $150K salary with a $25K Signing Bonus.
DT Bill Murray William and Mary 6’4” 300 – 4.93 40 (TEST Pro Day) 30 reps @225#
Murray is a strong player with narrow shoulders (and undersized shoulder pads). 143 career tackles fo the three year starter. He had 10 blocked kicks and 19 sacks for his career. Souting report about Murray says that he was a much leaner, quick and athletic player at the Pro Day than what they had scouted in September. Played in the College Gridiron Classic and met with about 20 teams, with NE the first one listed.
DT Courtney Wallace Louisiana Tech 6’2” 305# – 5.24 est
Not much written about Wallace as he didn’t play until his Senior year. He had 42 tackles and two sacks in 2019. Perhaps he is a late bloomer. One ranking had him as number 117.
DE Trevon Hill Miami 6’ 3” 248# – 4.89 40
Hill started 12 games as a Sophmore at Virginia Tech (5.5 sacks) and 2 of 3 games as a Junior before his dismissal from the team. He got into a confrontation with a member of the coaching staff at Halftime of a the Old Dominion game and subsequently kicked off the team. Interesting that coach Fuentes kept Hill on scholarship and he received his degree from Virginia Tech. He transferred to Miami as a Grad student and played in 2019 making 29 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 12 games. Like teammate Jeff Thomas Hill has been granted an opportunity. Lets see what he can do with it. Hill was seen as a leader on the Hurricanes squad according to Coach Diaz, a difficult thing to do as a one year player coming in as Grad Student.
DE Nick Coe Auburn 6’ 5” 280 – 4.89 40
See Steve Balestrieri’s profile of Coe. Was recognized as all Freshman team in SEC. Started 10 of 11 games as a Sophomore before breaking his wrist and missing the last two games. Recorded 7.5 sacks that season. Couldn’t regain his starting job in 2019, ultimately being “held out” of the Arkansas game for not meeting the team’s practice standards. He fell asleep in a team meeting. That won’t happen here. If it does, he won’t be here long.
Got to give a shout out to James Develin upon the announcement of his retirement. He was the single reason the Patriots running game took a step backwards last year. Develin was a bulldozer at fullback clearing the way for Sony Michel and his 6 post season TDs. Develin came up as a DL from Brown University, played in the United Football League for the Florida Tuskers and head coach Jay Gruden. Complications from a neck injury last season forced his decision to retire. I don’t think we have seen the last of Devlin. He was like having another coach on the field and last season could be seen patrolling the sidelines. Devlin has an Engineering degree form Brown.
The NFL and their partners ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network did a terrific job with the Draft. Their theme of hope was constantly reinforced by the feel good moments of celebration by those players selected and celebrating with their families. The Draft-A-Thon raised another $6M bringing the total raised to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic to $100M. The ratings were through the roof, up an average of 35%. Their messages of support for those on the front lines battling the pandemic were enlightening. The only part I didn’t like were the musical interludes and the piped in boos for the Commissioner. I would keep it a virtual event and I would hire a professional emcee replacing the commissioner.
Something that has slid under the wire was CBS hiring of Charles Davis to be the #2 Analyst replacing Dan Fouts. Davis made the decision on April 10th but a contract has not been signed and no formal announcement has been made. Fouts contract ended with the conclusion of this football year and will not be renewed. Davis has been an analyst for NFL Networks draft coverage as well as a game analyst for FOX NFL broadcasts.
Another curious item was the Patriots selection of TE’s Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. Asiasi was the top rated TE by many NFL GMs according to NBC Sports Boston Phil Perry. The selection of Asiasi at #91 was immediately followed by Green Bay taking Josiah Deguara at #94. The Pats must have realized GB was interested in a TE and made the move up to jump Green Bay and secure their man. A similar thing happened with Dalton Keene at #101. The Pats made an unprecedented trade with the rival New York Jets to insure they secured Keene. New Orleans traded up 4 picks later to take Adam Trautman. Did you know that Asiasi and Keene were roommates at the Combine!
Lots of controversy concerning Patriots draft pick Justin Rohrwasser’s 3% tattoo. This tattoo is linked to a right wing paramilitary organization. When asked about it by the Athletics Jeff Howe, Rohrwasser explained that he got the tattoo as a teenager and didn’t know what it really stood for. His family has several members in the military and this was a tribute to them. He claims that the 3% movement doesn’t represent him and said it will be covered up. Given the Aaron Hernandez fallout, the team must have done its due diligence on Rohrwasser. The Patriots had Rohrwasser take a psychological test. I am sure it was to determine if he did in fact have radical right wing tendencies. This issue is not going away quietly. I cannot judge the validity of some claims of former URI students on twitter, but if true, they are not complimentary. Rohrwasser has a big leg and is a big man at 6’3” 230 lbs. He won the Coach Zauner Senior kicking combine (see it on You Tube). The Zauner kicking combine is the place where NFL specialist are chosen from. He made several kicks between 44-61 yards and missed from 64 yards.
Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Offseason
Tags: 2020 NFL Draft 2020 Patriots Draft 2020 Patriots Offseason 2020 Patriots UDFA