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 continue the series with center David Andrews
Name: David Andrews
Jersey number: 60
Size: 6’3, 295 lbs.
2015 review: David Andrews was one of the positive surprises of the Patriots’ 2015 season. After the Georgia-product went undrafted, New England signed him as a free agent, and he had a solid first offseason in Foxboro. Andrews started all four preseason contests and ultimately made the Patriots’ 53-man roster.
With incumbent starting center Bryan Stork being placed on injured reserve with a designation to return, Andrews took over his role: he started the Patriots’ first ten games – during which the team went 10-0 – and was a solid presence on an inexperienced and at times inconsistent interior offensive line.
While the undrafted rookie ultimately lost his starting job once Stork returned from injury and saw only limited snaps afterwards, he still played the third-most snaps of New England’s interior offensive linemen. Overall, he finished the season with a playing time percentage of 61.9% (776 of a possible 1,253 snaps).
Andrews made the most of his snaps, as he allowed a mere 15 pressures. He gave up only 2.0 sacks, four hits and nine hurries and allowed the lowest pressure percentage among the Patriots’ interior linemen. While he was very a very good pass-blocker, Andrews struggled at times to generate push in the running game. All in all, though he has had a very successful first year in the NFL.
2016 preview: The Patriots’ center competition projects to be one of the most interesting position battles at this year’s training camp. Andrews’ biggest competition for snaps and playing time is Bryan Stork, whom he lost the starting role to in late-November 2015. Furthermore, the 23-year old might also have to fight off rookie Joe Thuney, who also saw some snaps at the position during OTAs and minicamp.
With one professional season under his belt and all the experience that comes along with it, Andrews is in a prime position to make the famed second-year jump. In order to win a spot on the team – be it as a backup or even as the starter –, he definitely needs to make that jump. Otherwise, Andrews might find himself off the team given the depth and young talent the Patriots’ have along the interior offensive line.
If he can make said second-year jump and improve the deficiencies and inconsistencies he has especially in run blocking, Andrews has a good chance to survive roster cuts and earn a role on the 2016 Patriots – and maybe even surpass Stork on the depth chart. After all, he was reliable as a starter last year and one offensive line evaluator even called the difference between the two players "negligible".
In short, if Andrews has the best training camp of the centers on the roster, he will be the starter next season. If not, he might either become a quality backup option or be released and potentially clear the waiver wire to land on New England’s practice squad. While it is certainly a possibility that this happens, Andrews remaining on the team seems more likely as of today.
David Andrews has had a surprisingly good rookie campaign. If he can duplicate last year’s success and build upon it, he has a realistic chance to not only earn a backup spot on the team but to even become the new starter. One thing is certain: the training camp battle for the starting center spot will be fun to watch.