NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
Who will be this year’s Malcolm Butler? A player that comes in after the seventh round, catches the eye of the coaching staff and forces his way on to the 53-man roster.
Read below for who the Patriots picked up after the 2015 NFL Draft was over.
-More updated as the picks are signed.
Devin Gardner (QB/WR, Michigan)
This signing will draw the most attention because Gardner is a huge name in the college football world. The dynamic and enigmatic QB is going to covert to Wide Receiver for the Patriots. After using 11 selection in the NFL Draft and zero of them on a Wide Receiver, Gardner was a prime free agent target. The Patriots held private workouts with Gardner prior to the draft and were rumored to be one of the teams most interested. At 6’4″ and 218 lbs. he gives Quarterbacks a large body target to throw to. We all know the Patriots converted Julian Edelman from Quarterback to Receiver in 2009 and while no one can expect the same results, the Patriots hope they have a solid developmental weapon for the future. One problem Gardner may have at the next level is his speed. He only ran a 4.65 at his pro day, so he lacks the explosiveness that the team usually desires on the perimeter.
Jimmy Jean (DB, UAB)
Jean is a tall and thin defensive back prospect. The thing that drew the Patriots to him is definitely his versatility. Jean has experience playing Cornerback and Free Safety for the now defunct Blazers program. He played in 12 Games last season with 42 total tackles and one interception. Jean really has no defining characterisitc that makes me think he has a shot at making the roster. The Patriots likely view him as a potential Special Teams player and versatile backup if he reaches his ceiling. Jean ran 4.58 at his Pro Day and only managed to Bench 225 7 times. The rest of his agility numbers were sub-par.
David Andrews (C, Georgia)
Without a doubt the Free Agent that has the best shot (as of right now of making the team). Bill Belichick personally conducted a private workout with Andrews when he went down to Georgia in early March. He’s a 3 year starter at Center and a 4 year contributor. Over the course of his career he’s earned many accolades from the program including the 2014 Vince Dooley Most Valuable Player Award. He was named team Captain during 3 different seasons and then was voted the team’s overall permanent captain in 2014. Andrews was also awarded Frank Sinkwich Toughest Player Award, which we know is the number one characteristic the Patriots look for in their linemen.
On the field he’s a bit undersized, but a mobile and athletic blocker. He’s asked to pull quite often and his mobility will make him a nice fit for the Patriots zone scheme. He’s been battle tested vs. the top competition in the nation for four seasons and improved each year. Andrews plays with great balance and anticipates defensive movements. His positioning is top notch and his mirror skills are NFL caliber. He’s great in pass protection, as he hasn’t allowed a sack over the last two seasons. The biggest concerns are definitely his size and ability to handle the physicality of the NFL game. He’ll add depth at Center behind Bryan Stork and battle Ryan Wendell for the back-up job.
Chris Harper (WR, California)
Harper is an early entry into the draft that went unpicked through the 7 round process. He was Cal’s top receiver the last two seasons and actually saw significant playing time as a freshman playing along side Keenan Allen. Harper is slightly built, but quick, twitchy, and fluid. The thing that likely caught the Patriots attention was his ability to run routes and get out of breaks. Harper had the measureables to get drafted as he ran a 4.52 40 at this pro day jumped 35″ and had a broad of 10′. His 3-Cone, which is always vital to the Patriots is only average (7.03). Harper also has experience returning punts and can likley add special teams value.
Brandon King (DB, Auburn)
Unsure if this move is Try Out based on a straight UDFA contract as of right now. King played Safety for the majority of his career, but his Auburn bio says he “moved to bolsterd the pass rush for the second half of the season”. He won’t be doing that in the NFL because he’s listed at 6’2″/213 and has the athleticism to play in the secondary. King had a great pro day, which a large Patriots contingent attended, including Bill Belichick. King ran 4.40 in the forty, had a 38″ vertical, 10’6″ broad jump, and did 19 reps of 225. King appears to have experience on Special Teams and will have to earn his way onto the roster covering kicks. He’s a long shot at best to stick.