With opening day still three months away and the mandatory portion of the initial wave of offseason workouts over, we have entered the more quiet parts of the NFL offseason. However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop.
During workouts and studying sessions, players still have a chance to lay the foundation for their spots on the team. Over the course of the next few months, we will take a look at the men fighting for them on the 2017 New England Patriots. 53 of currently 90 players will be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.
Today, we will continue the series with an undrafted backup tight end.
Name: Jacob Hollister
Position: Tight end
Jersey number: 48w
Opening day age: 23
Size: 6’4, 240 lbs.
2016 review: After stints at Nevada and Arizona Western Community College, Jacob Hollister joined the University of Wyoming prior to the 2014 season. He would go on to spend his next three years with the Cowboys – the most productive of which was his 2016 senior season: Hollister appeared in all 12 of Wyoming's games and set new career highs in most statistical categories.
The Oregon-native caught a total of 32 passes for 515 yards and seven touchdowns over the course of the season. Proving to be a capable deep threat, he led all tight ends in the Mountain West Conference in yards per reception (16.7) while also being the premier player at his position in touchdowns and receiving yards. Furthermore, Hollister added two yards on one rushing attempt.
However, he was not selected during the 2017 NFL draft and instead joined the Patriots – and his twin brother Cody, an undrafted wide receiver – as a free agent.
2017 preview: Jacob Hollister is probably among the undrafted rookie with the best chances of making the Patriots' 53-man roster. After all, he joins a tight end group in flux: It is led by veterans Rob Gronkowski (returning from a stint on injured reserve) and Dwayne Allen (added via trade earlier this year) but lacks consistent depth behind its two top options.
The competition for what appears to be one final roster spot sees Hollister go against Matt Lengel, James O'Shaughnessy and fellow undrafted rookie Sam Cotton. While he brings a lot of upside and abilities as a pass catcher to the table, the 23-year old is a raw prospect and still needs to improve his overall game if he wants to win that battle and earn a spot on the team or the practice squad.
Hollister especially needs to work on his blocking skills to beat out Lengel, Cotton and – the favorite as of right now – O'Shaughnessy. If he can do that over the course of the summer and become a more complete tight end in the process, it would not be a surprise to see him beat out his competition and earn at least a spot on the practice squad.