MORSE: 2022 Patriots UDFA Class, Draft Notebook, Thoughts on Bill O’Brien, and the Jarrett Stidham Trade
For 18 consecutive seasons, an Undrafted Free Agent (UDFA) has made the opening day roster of the Patriots. Quinn Nordin, the only UDFA the Patriots signed last year, made the opening roster.
So, which of the 8 UDFAs the Patriots signed will make the team?
The Patriots announced the 8 players’ UDFA signings on Monday. They don’t announce who has been invited. We have to find out that info from the players or agents on social media. The first day of Rookie Camp is Friday. The profiles of each of the 8 UDFAs have been published already, so I won’t re-write those but add some of the additional info on them. I have ranked the 8 UDFA signees by the likelihood they will make the team.
- Kody Russey C Houston – Russey spent his first five collegiate seasons at Louisiana Tech before transferring to Houston. At 6’ 1.5”, 301, he is on the small size, but he yanked 38 reps on the Bench Press. That would be good for 7th best since 2006. Short arms make it easier for him to Bench Press. He started 60 games over six seasons. Russey was also named second-team all-conference as a senior. At Houston, he was a teammate of New England’s third-round draft pick Marcus Jones 2021. Russey received one of the highest guarantees in the league ($130,000). The guaranteed salary and the need for a backup center is the reason I think Russey is the most likely to make the opening day roster.
- Devin Hafford CB Tarleton State – Tarleton State has only been a D1 member for two years, joining the Western Athletic Conference in 2020. That makes Hafford’s selection as Defensive Player of the Year all that more impressive. The only thing that prevented Hafford from being drafted was his slow 4.6 40 at his pro day. Hafford is very strong and pumped out 24 reps at 225#s. That’s better than O-line draft picks Chasen Hines (20) and Andrew Steuber (18).
- Liam Shanahan C LSU – Shanahan boasts a versatile skill set, enabling him to be a potential all-purpose offensive lineman. While he spent two seasons at LSU, the Marlborough, Massachusetts native started his college career at Harvard. At Harvard, he made 30 starts and graduated. He was LSU’s starting center for the last two seasons (21 consecutive games in the SEC), playing alongside Patriots sixth-round draft pick Chasen Hines. Shanahan is also known for being quite durable with 51 total starts as a 5-year starter. Again the need for a backup Center and the fact Shanahan can play multiple positions make him more likely to make the team.
- D’Eiq King QB Miami –Throughout his six-year career [at both Miami and Houston], he caught 61 passes for 520 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots were impressed by his diverse skillset having hosted him for a workout at Gillette Stadium in early April; apparently catching the eye of Pats’ offensive coach Joe Judge.
- Brenden Schooler S Texas – Despite an ability to be an effective two-way player, Schooler projects primarily as a special teams player at the pro level. He played wide receiver at both Oregon and Arizona before transferring to Texas. As a Longhorn, he made a position switch to safety. Schooler logged 50 tackles as a sixth-year senior. He is a potential replacement for Matthew Slater who is nearing the end of his career.
- LaBryan Ray DT Alabama – A former 5-star recruit, Ray just couldn’t stay healthy. I’m afraid he might make the team and then get hurt. He has all the skills, but just can’t be depended upon.
- Demarcus Mitchell LB Purdue – He appears to be good at holding the edge and with the release of Terez Hall, lack of depth at the LB position, and the fact the Patriots didn’t draft any LBs, he might be in a great position to make the team.
- Jake Julien P Eastern Michigan – Julien spent five seasons punting for the Eagles. He averaged 43.4 yards per punt across his career. The Canadian-born right-footer is expected to compete with incumbent Jake Bailey for a position on the Patriots roster. Just insurance for Bailey.
Rookie Camp Invitees
Cody Tippett CB Rhode Island – He is the son of Hall of Famer Andre Tippett
Jake Parker WR Howard-Payne – I saw a report that Parker was an invitee. He attended the Chiefs rookie camp last weekend but as of this writing was not signed. At 5’11.6”, 200 lbs, he ran a 4.59 40, 6.86 3-cone, 4.06 Short Shuttle, and 36.5” Vertical Leap. The interesting back story is about a player that quit playing to work the oil fields and then got the urge to play again.
Hunter Swartz OG Montana Tech – he stands 6’3” 310 lbs, ran a 5.04 at his Pro Day, and pumped out 28 reps @225#s. His short arms and lack of height prevent him from playing OT.
Patriots Sign TE Matt Sokol
They signed TE Matt Sokol once he was released by the Detroit Lions. The Michigan State product stands 6’ 5” and 249 lbs and was an Undrafted Free Agent signee in 2019. He played briefly for coach Matt Patricia.
Jarrett Stidham Traded
The drafting of Bailey Zappe spelled the end of the road for Jarrett Stidham. He was traded to the Raiders with a 2023 7th round selection for a 2023 6th round pick. This is the first trade between Josh McDaniels / Dave Ziegler and Bill Belichick, and probably won’t be the last. I thought the Raiders were set with Nick Mullens and Garrett Gilbert at backup QB. Gilbert was a member of the Patriots Practice Squad last year
The Patriots still have 3 open positions on their roster.
- Rookie Minicamp: May 13-15
- OTA Offseason Workouts: May 23-24, May 26, June 1-3, June 13-14, June 16-17
- Mandatory Minicamp: June 7-9
KC Chiefs Have a Great Draft
I love the way the Chiefs moved around the Draft to select their players. I predicted the Patriots taking a CB at #21 and the Chiefs moved up in a trade with the Patriots to take Trent McDuffie. Bill Belichick did it again with a trade-out. McDuffie is a plug and play player. KC followed that up by taking Edge George Karlfatis with their 2nd 1st round selection. Further down the draft they took Darrian Kinnard a big OT from Kentucky that can play either LT or RT. Kinnard gave up his starting LT position and moved to RT in 2021 when Kentucky landed LSUs former starter Dare Rosenthal from the Player Portal. Followed that with CB Jaylen Watson and underrated CB from Washington State. Just after the Patriots took Tyquan Thornton KC took Skyy Moore. I had taken Moore off my Patriots Type Player board because he didn’t run sub 7.00 3 cone drill. Well, that doesn’t mean anything to the Patriots anymore when they took Thornton, who doesn’t have a sub-7 time either. Moore runs good routes and will be a star with Pat Mahomes throwing to him. Moore was not asked to run the full route tree. They also added speedy RB Isiah Pacheco from Rutgers who is a good receiver out of the backfield. Bryan Cook is an S from Cincinnati and was also a good selection. Love the Leo Chenal LB pick from Wisconsin. Thought he would be perfect for the Patriots. He has the size, speed, and the productivity to be a starter. When they were finished drafting, they cleaned up with UnDrafted Free Agents, signing speedy WR Justyn Ross of Clemson, RB Jerrion Ealy of Mississippi, LB Mike Rose of Iowa State, and LB Jack Cochrane of South Dakota State. Teams will be watching the Chiefs closely during the Pre-Season to see which players are cut and who they could poach from the waivers. They also have a couple of WRs that won’t make the team and could provide value to other teams.
Nakobe Dean LB Georgia – Slipped in the draft all the way to the Third Round and was selected number 83 by the Philadelphia Eagles, just before the Patriots at #85. Dean fired his agent immediately after the draft. Two reasons he slipped were that he is undersized at 5’11” and his athletic numbers were not great. The second reason was that he decided not to have surgery on his shoulders and then tore a pectoral muscle working out for the Combine.
Matt Araiza P San Diego State – The Punt God was selected in the 6th Round, pick #180, just before the Patriots, by the Buffalo Bills. This was a lot lower than prognosticators predicted. The main reason given is that Araiza doesn’t hold on FG and Extra Points.
Bill O’Brien Sighting
Reports that Bill O’Brien was at Patriots workouts last week. That is curious that he is still hanging around the Patriots. Perhaps a return to the Patriots may be in his future. Bill Belichick isn’t getting any younger. Could O’Brien be a replacement candidate?
Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Offseason
Tags: New England Patriots Patriots Undrafted Free Agents