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UDFA Snapshot: Devin Gardner

Can the former QB make the transition to WR?

Gardner signed with the Patriots on May 2nd
Gardner signed with the Patriots on May 2nd
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, the Patriots always seem to have an undrafted free agent make the team out of camp. After the draft, the Patriots only had four roster spots left on their 90-man roster. So it's a very small class this year, barring any cuts between now and camp. Starting off the series of UDFA snapshots will be Michigan QB/WR Devin Gardner. If you're into superstitions, the last Michigan QB the Patriots took a chance on turned out pretty well. While Gardner is probably not taking any snaps under center in a Patriots uniform, here's what he could bring to the team.

Pro Day #s (courtesy of NFL Draft Scout):

HT: 6' 3 1/2"
WT: 218
10-20-40: 1.58-2.65-4.65
5-10-5 Shuttle: 4.42
3-Cone: 6.96
Vertical: 35"
Broad Jump: 9'9"

There's not much tape on Gardner as a WR, the only thing we can go off of is in the Senior Bowl. In terms of athleticism, that's not too bad for someone inexperienced as a WR. At 6'4" 218, the 6.96 3-cone measurement is very solid number. Gardner faces an uphill climb with Aaron Dobson, Brian Tyms, Josh Boyce, and possibly fellow UDFA Chris Harper ahead of him. To even catch a consideration, Gardner is going to have to stand out every day in practice and in the preseason games. That's what it took for last season's hero Malcolm Butler to make the roster. He's going to have to be able to contribute on special teams. He doesn't have to be a returner like Julian Edelman, but has to be able to cover kicks and punts.

One advantage he has as a WR is he has experience at both positions in college and played a lot of snaps at QB. The Patriots offense requires the QB and WR to see the exact same coverage and know how to adjust the route to beat that coverage. That usually requires a skill set of a WR being able to start and stop in a flash, and I'm not sure that Gardner has that ability. So that probably means he's going to have to learn how to catch back-shoulder throws and be able to out-jump CBs for the ball. Brady can make all the throws on the field, so Gardner needs to be ready for the ball. I don't think he makes the 53-man roster, but makes for a very good practice squad candidate.