Minicamp is officially over. This means that the mandatory phase of the New England Patriots' offseason workouts is over as well – at least until training camp starts in late July. Until then, we have re-entered the quiet parts of the NFL calendar.
However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop. After all, by late August, each team has to start making its roster cuts. Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we'll take a look at rookie running back D.J. Foster.
Name: D.J. Foster
Position: Running back
Jersey number: 27w
Size: 5'10, 195 lbs.
2015 review: Statistically, D.J. Foster's senior season was the worst of his four year college career. While he averaged 1,316 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns over his first three seasons at Arizona State, Foster amassed only 864 yards and four scores in 2015.
So, what happened? His position change might explain his decline in production: Foster, who was a true dual-threat running back prior to 2015, was used primarily as a slot receiver his senior year. He was still the Sun Devils' third-most productive offensive weapon but saw the least touches of his career (114) and was neither the top option as a running back nor as a wide receiver.
Overall, Foster carried the ball a career-low 55 times for 280 yards and a touchdown. He also caught 59 passes for 584 yards and three scores. Very good numbers in a vacuum – but far off his stellar past production.
2016 preview: After Dion Lewis' season-ending injury, the Patriots struggled to consistently move the football on the ground in 2015. However, the team decided not to upgrade its running backs during this year's draft. In fact, it has only one rookie runner currently on the roster: D.J. Foster.
While the 22-year old has to beat out fellow running backs James White and Donald Brown to secure a spot on New England's roster as Lewis' top backup option, his chances of doing that are decent. After all, he brings past production, potential and versatility to the table. With roster spots at a premium, this versatility could be the deciding factor over the more one-dimensional White, while the potential could secure a spot over the lower-ceiling Brown.
One major question, of course, is whether or not he is able to quickly acclimate to the NFL game and to grasp the Patriots' highly complex offensive playbook. If he is able to do all that, it would not be a surprise to see the undrafted rookie make the team. If he needs more development and is not claimed by another team, the practice squad looks like a logical destination.
No matter what ultimately happens, it would be a surprise to see Foster leave New England.
Past production, talent, experience – D.J. Foster has it all. Therefore, he would be a solid addition to the Patriots' offensive arsenal, be it on the 53-man roster or on the practice squad.