NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The 2013 NFL Draft has come to a close, but that doesn’t mean the work is finished. Each year the Patriots find at least one roster player that is signed after the draft. From Justin Francis to Randall Gay of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Patriots have had a lot of success finding UDFA gems.
Here is a breakdown of all the 2013 UDFA siginings made by the Patriots and my thoughts on each one. Remember, NFL off-season rosters expanded to 90 players and the Patriots aren’t anywhere near that limit. They are expected to be much more active in UDFA than last year.
Here is a breakdown of each UDFA signing and their chances of making the roster.
TJ Moe, WR, Missouri (5114 – 204 – 4.60)
Moe is probably the best of the UDFA signing of the bunch thus far. I was mildly surprised he didn’t get drafted in the later rounds. Lack of straight speed is what likely dropped Moe into the UDFA ranks. It’s going to be impossible for him to avoid being compared to Wes Welker. Moe isn’t fast, but he had one of the best 3-Cone times at the NFL Combine (6.53), displaying his elite quickness and sudden change of direction. Moe is ultra-reliable and isn’t afraid to put his body on the line to make catches. Even though his production dipped this past year, he was still the go to target in the Mizzou offense. He’s also a white slot receiver, so naturally he is a Wes Welker clone. Except in this case it actually fits. Moe has a very good chance to make this team. He’s the type of player that once you put him on the field he’s just going to do his thing. At the very least he is on the practice squad and is Amendola insurance. MOe had plenty of interest once he went undrafted and the Patriots were able to lock him up.
Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland (6’1″ – 306 – 5.35)
I speculated prior the draft that the New England Patriots would have interest in Joe Vellano and it turns out they did. Vellano is a max-effort player that leaves it all out on the field. He was an All-American selection as a Junior when he tallied 94 tackles from his DT position. I’d compare Vellano to a cross between Mike Wright and Dan Klecko. Yes he is undersized, yes he is a limited athelte, but he gets off the ball quickly, has an extremely strong upperbody and can win in a 1 gap scheme. Vellano will never give up on a play, even when he is blocked he will fit like crazy to shed and give chase down the fied. Outside of TJ Moe, Vellano has the next best shot to make this roster out of training camp. He’s full of character, heart and determination. This is the type of player that usually makes it after going undrafted. As you can tell I was a fan of his game and I am pleased he ended up in New England.
Zach Sudfeld, TE, Nevada (6066 – 253 – 4.78)
Sudfeld is a massive inline tight end. I had a feeling the Patriots may draft a tight end late in the draft even though they didn’t draft one, they wasted no time snatching up Sudfeld afterwards. Sudfeld is arguable the best undrafted tight end. Sudfeld was one of the most productive TE in the country last year posting a 45-598 – 9 stat line. Sudfeld lacks strength, only repping out 11 times at 222, and it’s probably the reason he dropped out of the draft. With the Tight End being so important to the Patriots offense, it’s important they continually add young depth at the position and that is what Sudfeld is.
Cory Grissom, DT, South Florida (6013 – 306 – 5.21)
Grissom was one of my top 225 prospects and a Senior Bowl invite. Nicknamed “Porkchop”. Grissom is likely a back-up at nose tackle or a rotational 4-3 tackle. He lacks much range and doesn’t penetrate, but what he can do is clog up things in the middle. He has an above average anchor, can take on double teams and flashes the ability to shed blocks in tight spots. Grissom won’t make many plays, but he will eat space for others around him. It seems as though each year the Patriots find value on the DL through UDFA and Grissom is an example of that. He could have very easily been selected in the 6th or 7th round.
Matt Stankiewitch, OC, Penn State (6026 – 302 – 5.42)
This is the first time we see the Bill Belichick dig into his Bill O’Brien – Penn State pipeline. Stankiewitch was a combine invite and one of the consensus top 6-7 centers in the draft. A Rimington Trophy finalist. Stankiewitch is adept as using his hands and can lock up defenders to anchor. He likely adds training camp and roster depth behind Ryan Wendell, who is a free agent after 2013. Stankiewitch has an outside shot at making the roster, but is Practice Squad material.
Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Cincinnati (6’1″ – 193 – 4.54)
Thompkins was another combine invite. A junior college player that planned on attending Tennessee until Lane Kiffin’s departure left him hanging. Thompkins has experience playing out the outside and in the slot while at Cincinnati. Thompkins has good height and decent speed. He will add depth to the rebuilt wide receiver corps.
Ryan Allen, P, Louisiana Tech (6’2″ – 229)
Allen is one of the most decorated college kickers of all time. He is a two time Ray Guy award winner and All-America. Allen was one of the Senior Bowl punters and if not for Jeff Locke, Allen would be the consensus top Punter in this year’s draft. Ryan Allen provides legit competition for Zoltan Mesko who hasn’t had any during the past two training camps. Competition is never a bad thing and Allen has a chance to stick.
Quentin Hines, RB, Akron (5’9″ – 191)
Hines was a backup running back for the Zips – totaling 194 yards on 35 carries, including one 70 yard run. Hines also played on special teams, returning a few kickoffs.
Brandon Ford, TE, Clemson (6’4″ – 245)
Ford caught 40 balls for 480 yards in Clemson’s dynamic offense, scoring eight touchdowns. Ford can play both tight end and H-back, and has shown a good blend of athleticism. He ran a 4.7 forty and has enough savvy running routes to be an NFL player down the road.
Stephon Morris, CB, Penn State (5’8″ – 188)
Morris has failed to pick off a pass since his freshman season for the Nittany Lions, although he has been active in the run game – notching 5 tackles for loss. Morris ran a 4.38 forty, which will get you noticed this time of year.
Elvis Fisher, OT, Missouri (6’5″ – 296)
Fisher is slightly undersized at less than 300 pounds, but Fisher moves well for a big boy and was a team captain for Missouri. He has suffered multiple shoulder injuries, which contributed to him not getting drafted.
Chris McDonald, OG, Michigan State (6’4″ – 300)
McDonald is Patriots OL Nick McDonald’s little brother. He played guard for the Spratans and showed some promise, but got beat badly at times. He has some physical tools and a good football IQ, so Coach Scar definitely has some clay to work with.
Brandon Jones, CB, Rutgers (6’0″ – 191)
Jones led the Rutgers defense with five interceptions in 2012, also contributing nine pass breakups. His 4.56 forty likely contributed to him not being drafted, but he does have some ball skills – some even project him as a receiver.
Josh Kline, OL, Kent State (6’3″ – 307)
Kline had a very impressive pro day, running a 5.0 forty and showing some lateral movement skills. Kline played all five positions for Kent State and was part of a potent rushing attack featuring Dri Archer last year. Kline had a private workout with the Patriots earlier in March.
Kanorris Davis, SS, Troy (5’10” – 211)
According to Gil Brandt, Davis “ran the 40 in 4.60 and 4.65 seconds, had a 37-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-1 broad jump, did the three-cone drill in 7.07 seconds and the short shuttle in 4.20 seconds, and did 21 lifts of 225 pounds on the bench press.”
Ben Bartholomew, FB, Tennessee (6’2″ – 245)
Bartholomew was invited to the Raycom All-Star game this off-season. He played some TE in addition to his time at fullback. He was able to catch 10 passes for over 100 yards and a score.
Dwayne Cherrington, DL, Mississippi State (6’2″ – 345)
Ryan Osiecki, QB, New Haven (Tryout)
Mike Zupancic, LS, Eastern Michigan