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Sunday NFL Thoughts: 5 observations on the Patriots undrafted rookie class

The Patriots have done a good job supplementing their draft through free agency.

1. The New England Patriots have kicked off their rookie mini camp as the newest members of the team get their feet wet in the professional world. The Patriots released a small behind the scenes video of the camp on Twitter:

The players worked out in the dome as they practiced their technique.

2. You can see pictures from the rookie mini camp here. The cameraman seemed to focus on the Patriots first selection EDGE Derek Rivers, along with EDGE Deatrich Wise Jr., OT Conor McDermott, WR Cody Hollister, TE Jacob Hollister, and WR Austin Carr.

We know the jersey numbers of some of the rookies, too:

#48 TE Jacob Hollister - last worn by LB Kamu Grugier-Hill in 2016.

#63 OT Antonio Garcia - last worn by OG Tre Jackson from 2015-16 and previously by OG Dan Connolly from 2008-14.

#67 OT Conor McDermott - last worn by OG Josh Kline from 2013-16 and most notably by C Dan Koppen from 2003-11.

#81 WR Austin Carr - last worn by TE Clay Harbor in 2016, but also by TE Tim Wright in 2014, TE Aaron Hernandez from 2011-12, and WR Randy Moss from 2007-10.

#84 WR Cody Hollister - last worn by WR Nate Washington in 2016, but also by WR Brian Tyms in 2014, WR Deion Branch from 2010-12, and TE Ben Watson from 2004-09.

#91 EDGE Deatrich Wise Jr. - last worn by LB Jamie Collins from 2013-16.

#95 EDGE Derek Rivers - last worn by EDGE Chris Long in 2016 and EDGE Chandler Jones from 2012-15.

I’m actually a little surprised they haven’t posted images of Harvey Langi, who likely has the best chance of any Patriots undrafted free agent rookie of making the team.

3. Of the undrafted players on the roster, there is one players that have a strong chance of making the roster and three that have an outside chance.

I think that TE Jacob Hollister has pretty strong chances to make the roster, relative to most undrafted free agents. I won’t say that he’s a lock, but I would feel comfortable saying that I believe Hollister is the third most promising tight end on the current roster, behind Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen.

I think that LB Harvey Langi, WR Austin Carr, and CB D.J. Killings have outside chances to make the team.

I believe that Langi and Carr will struggle to beat out the five players entrenched in the depth chart before them (Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Shea McClellin, Elandon Roberts, Jonathan Freeny for Langi; Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola for Carr), but the rookies could impress enough to force the Patriots to make space give them a redshirt season on the active roster, just like how the team approached RB D.J. Foster last year and EDGE Rufus Johnson the year before.

Killings has a slightly more direct approach. While he won’t take over for Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, or probably even Cyrus Jones, he will have a chance to outright beat Justin Coleman for one of the final roster spots.

4. The Patriots did a good job of adding talent at positions of need this year. They added Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead at running back, Brandin Cooks and Austin Carr at wide receiver, Jacob Hollister and James O’Shaughnessy at tight end, a billion different offensive tackles and defensive linemen including all four draft picks, Harvey Langi and Brooks Ellis at linebacker, and the usually cluster of defensive backs.

But I’m actually a little surprised that the Patriots decided to add just one interior offensive lineman to the roster in Purdue OG Jason King.

The Patriots interior depth chart consists of sophomore LG Joe Thuney, third-year C David Andrews, third-year RG Shaq Mason, and sophomore IOL Ted Karras. The team retained IOL Chris Barker, who has somehow been with the team in some capacity since 2013, third-year OG Jamil Douglas, who spent last year on the Patriots practice squad, and sophomore OG Chase Farris, who also spent last year on the Patriots practice squad.

New England must be high on Karras as a back-up, or at least on the potential of the other linemen because I would have expected the team to add some support to the interior.

5. Patriots invited veteran DB Taylor Mays to attend the rookie minicamp and they also invited veteran DT Ego Ferguson, who is still battling a shoulder injury. Consider both of these players “emergency list contacts” that will only sign with New England in a worst case scenario.