The mandatory phase of the New England Patriots' offseason workouts is over – at least until training camp starts in late July – and we have re-entered the quieter 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 safety and core special teamer Brandon King.
Name: Brandon King
Position: Strong safety
Jersey number: 36b
Size: 6'2, 220 lbs.
2015 review: Despite going undrafted in 2015, Brandon King had a successful rookie season. The Auburn-product was signed by the Patriots as a free agent after the draft and spent his entire offseason in Foxboro. However, he did not survive final cuts and was released on September 5. Two days later, King was resigned to New England’s practice squad.
After the Patriots released cornerback Bradley Fletcher, King was promoted to the 53-man roster just prior to the team’s week four game against the Dallas Cowboys. He would remain on the active roster for the rest of the season.
Overall, King appeared in 15 games for the Patriots and finished the season with the third most special teams snaps (54.4%) and second most tackles on the team (12). He was a core member of the unit and saw his most prominent snaps as a gunner opposite Pro Bowler Matthew Slater.
2016 preview: According to Jeff Howe, the Patriots were trying to reach a multiyear-extension with King before offering him a one-year exclusive tender sheet (which he ultimately signed in April). This shows just how highly the team thinks of the 23-year old and what he brings to the table.
Therefore, only one year after not getting through roster cuts, King should be seen as a favorite to earn a spot on New England’s 53. He is once again projected to be a core special teamer and will likely see time on all four units, mostly as a gunner in kick coverage.
While King probably won’t play much – if any – snaps on defense, he is an important member of the team. After all, he brings stability, experience and past production to a special teams unit, that has struggled at times in 2015.
If Brandon King is able to build upon his first year in the NFL and continues to grow as a player, the Patriots may have found their latest undrafted gem. In 2016, he will likely get another chance to do just that – and to show that his very good rookie campaign was no fluke.