With opening day still more than two 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 rookie linebacker.
Name: Harvey Langi
Jersey number: 48b
Opening day age: 24
Size: 6’2, 250 lbs.
2016 review: After starting his career as a running back at Utah, Harvey Langi transferred to Brigham Young prior to the 2014 season, where he switched to the defensive side. In 2015, he established himself as one of the Cougars' starting linebackers and had the most successful year of his college career; one that put him on the Patriots' draft radar as a potential first round pick.
However, Langi opted to return for his senior season – and was unable to build on his promising 2015 campaign. With Brigham Young switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 base defense, the coaching staff decided to move him to the defensive edge as a rusher and part time coverage player. Asked to learn yet another new position next to playing inside and outside linebacker as well as running back, Langi struggled.
He was eventually moved back to his most natural position, inside linebacker, and started showing why he was among the nation's most intriguing defenders in 2015. Overall, Langi finished his final collegiate season with 57 tackles (5.0 of which for loss), two sacks, two additional quarterback hits as well as a forced fumble and two pass breakups.
Following the season, Langi was invited to both the Senior Bowl and the NFL scouting combine. But even though he was able to flash his raw athleticism during both events, he was not selected during the draft. Instead, Langi joined New England as a rookie free agent.
2017 preview: Adding Harvey Langi via free agency seems to have been a priority to the Patriots as the team gave him a guaranteed $115,000 – the most of all undrafted players on the team. Whether he will ultimately live up to the investment remains to be seen, but the 24-year old brings an intriguing skill set to the table that might help him earn a spot on the team or the practice squad.
Not only does Langi offer ideal size for an inside linebacker, he also is a versatile player that has shown a lot of promise as a pass defender and downhill run stopper. He still needs to work on his instincts and technique, though, to further grow as a defender at the next level. If Langi is able to do that, however, and progresses over the course of training camp, it would not be a surprise to see him earn a roster spot.
But even if he fails to do either that or beat out one of the contestants for said spot (most likely Jonathan Freeny), or if the Patriots opt not to go six deep at the linebacker position, Langi’s tenure in New England might not be over just yet. After all, his upside and natural talent would make him an intriguing practice squad addition; one the team could continue to work with behind the scenes. And one that could have an impact next year.