With training camp starting next week, the NFL's most quiet period is set to come to an end soon. For the New England Patriots, rookies will report on July 24 and veterans two days later – and on July 27, the defending world champions will hold their first practice of this year's camp.
Over the next month, players have a chance to earn a spot either on the team's 53-man roster or the practice squad. Throughout the offseason, we will take a look at the men fighting for those few select spots on the 2017 Patriots to find out who will and might be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.
Today, we will continue the series with one of the Patriots' undrafted rookies.
Name: Max Rich
Position: Offensive tackle
Jersey number: 72w
Opening day age: 23
Size: 6’7, 315 lbs.
2016 review: Despite seeing only minimal action in his first two seasons at Harvard, Max Rich became a starter in his final two seasons. In 2016, he appeared in nine of the Crimson's 10 games and was the team's top option at left tackle. A tall but nimble athlete, the economics major with the best possible name imaginable received multiple accolades following the season.
For the second straight year, Rich was voted to the All-Ivy League team – but while he was on the second team in 2015, he was named to the first squad his senior season. The three-time Ivy League champion also was named third team All-American and voted to the All-New England team as chosen by local football writers.
Despite his successful final season at Harvard, Rich was not invited to the combine. However, at Harvard's pro day he was able to display his athletic skill set by running a 5.12 40-yard dash to go along with a 7.18 three-cone drill and 4.51 short shuttle – the first two clearly under the combine averages of 5.24 and 7.74, respectively. Rich still went undrafted, though.
2017 preview: Shortly after the draft, the Patriots signed Max Rich as a rookie free agent. As such, he will have the chance to compete for practice reps and playing time at one of the defending world champions' deepest positions: Three of a projected four roster spots are already filled by starters Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon as well as third round rookie Antonio Garcia.
Rich therefore finds himself in a six-men competition for the last remaining spot. And while he brings an intriguing athletic skill set to the table, he is a rather raw prospect especially when it comes to his technique and consistency in the passing game. The 23-year old might therefore be a candidate to switch sides at the next level – and only appears to have an outside chance to make the 53-man roster.
He is, however, eligible to join the practice squad and would be a solid addition. Spending his rookie year behind the scenes to hone his skills might help him become a more NFL-ready tackle and potentially a factor in 2018.