FOXBORO — When you think of the New England Patriots, the word “underdog” certainly doesn’t come to mind. Bill Belichick, however, makes a living on finding the needle in the haystack.
For 15 consecutive seasons, an undrafted free agent has made the New England Patriots’ final 53-man roster. Players like David Andrews, J.C. Jackson and Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler have all been solid contributors from the list of UDFAs that Belichick saw potential in.
Where other NFL teams overlooked Jackson because he’s undersized, the Patriots saw his excellent ability to play the ball in the air. In terms of Butler, it was his willingness to play scrappy and gritty – the type of effort New England prides itself on.
With all that being said, this could be the year the streak is broken.
It’s not unusual that there’s not a UDFA demanding attention at this point, since it’s usually in training camp where they make names for themselves. However, the Patriots are essentially bringing in two draft classes this season due to the amount of injuries that the 2018 class suffered.
If the streak were to live on, there’s a good possibility it would be at the wide receiver or tight end position. Jakobi Meyers is a 6-foot-2 wideout out of North Carolina State who was expected by many to be drafted. He’s a bigger slot receiver with quick feet and the ability to separate from his defender.
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) April 27, 2019
And then there’s Andrew Beck. He is a tight end, but at minicamp the Patriots worked him as a fullback during positional drills, which his build (6-foot-3, 250 pounds) suits well. If he were to make the roster, it would most likely be for his blocking abilities rather than a receiver.
Although it might seem like a gridlock at most positions this season, there’s no doubt Belichick will still keep his eye out for a diamond in the rough during training camp.