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 analyze linebacker Kevin Snyder.
Name: Kevin Snyder
Jersey number: 45
Size: 6'2, 245 lbs.
2015 review: After going undrafted in 2015, Snyder signed a free agent deal with the Detroit Lions. The Rutgers product spent the majority of his first NFL summer in Detroit but broke his hand in the Lions’ second preseason game and was subsequently placed on injured reserve.
Snyder was released off injured reserve mid-October and signed to the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad one month later. However, after only one week on the west coast, the 49ers waived Snyder.
He was signed to the Patriots’ practice squad in mid-December and eventually promoted to New England’s 53-man roster just prior to the AFC Championship Game. While Snyder was active that day, he did not play any snaps – thus finishing his rookie campaign without any playing time.
2016 preview: The Patriots have three linebackers who are locks to make the team: Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins and free agency signing Shea McClellin (whose practice usage might qualify him more as an edge defender than a linebacker, though). The backup spots behind them are open for competition – and Snyder is a part of it.
The 23-year old will get his fair share of practice repetitions to prove that he belongs. While he did not stand out during minicamp and OTA practices open to the media, that could very well change in training camp. After all, Snyder has one advantage over most of his competition: he has some experience within the Patriots’ system.
If Snyder is able to use this experience not only on defense but on special teams as well, he might be able to push more expensive options like Jonathan Freeny or Ramon Humber off the team. However, if he will continue his spring-invisibility, then the odds of him outperforming both the two veterans and sixth-round rookies Kamu Grugier-Hill and Elandon Roberts do frankly not look very good.
Consequently, a more realistic scenario might be that Snyder spends another year on the Patriots' practice squad. He would still have to perform, though, and hope that the Patriots see enough potential to spend one of the 10 spots on him.
Kevin Snyder could become the latest Dane Fletcher, Tracy White or Larry Izzo; backup linebackers that saw the majority of their snaps on special teams. However, if he is unable to use this summer to show that he could potentially fill their shoes, he won’t make the team over more experienced or higher-ceiling options.