Immediately after this year’s draft, the New England Patriots signed a total of 19 rookies to free agency contracts. One of them was a offensive lineman out of Vanderbilt, who had not played in a game since the 2014 season: Andrew Jelks, who missed both his junior and senior seasons due to back-to-back ACL tears suffered during preseason workouts.
Now Jelks will also miss his rookie campaign in the NFL because of his injury, as patscap.com's Miguel Benzan noted earlier this week.
After missing all of the Patriots’ spring practices, New England opted to place the 23-year old on the non-football injury list prior to training camp. The team would have been able to active him to its active 53-man roster before Tuesday's deadline but opted not to do so. Instead, Jelks will spend the remainder of the season on the list and on the sidelines.
Before his injuries, the 6’6, 305 lbs lineman was a two-year starter at Vanderbilt. In 2013, after a redshirt season to start his collegiate career, he was voted to the SEC coaches' all-freshman team. In 2014, Jelks moved from the right to left side of the offensive line and started all 12 of the Commodores' games while playing almost 90% of the team's offensive snaps.
In short: Jelks brings plenty of talent to the table. Some additional time to rehab and get back into football shape will certainly help him in his quest to return to the field next year – on a Patriots team that faces some uncertainty at the offensive tackle position: Three of its top four players at the position are headed towards unrestricted free agency.