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: Jason King
Position: Offensive guard
Jersey number: 74w
Opening day age: 23
Size: 6’4, 310 lbs.
2016 review: Entering his fifth year at Purdue, senior offensive lineman Jason King was locked in as the team's top option at left guard: After having started 28 games prior to his final season with the Boilermakers, he added 12 more starts in 2016. And despite playing on a bad team that finished with a 3-9 record and fired its head coach midway through the year, the Arkansas native played another solid season.
King was a reliable and hard-nosed interior lineman at Purdue that showed flashes both as a run and a pass blocker. However, despite that and showing good chemistry and communication skills with his fellow blockers, he suffered from the lack of talent and playmaking ability around him. Consequently, he failed to take significant step forwoard during his final collegiate season.
And while being named honorable All-Big Ten, King was neither invited to the Scouting Combine nor the Senior Bowl. Because his pro day numbers also did not stand out, the sociology major went unselected during this year's draft.
2017 preview: One of the Patriots' 19 initial rookie free agent signings, Jason King has joined a crowded interior offensive line (despite the recent release of fellow guard Chase Farris). With the three starters already set in stone in Joe Thuney, David Andrews and Shaq Mason, King finds himself in a competition for what appears to be a maximum of two backup spots.
Going against Ted Karras, who was the lone interior backup last season, veterans James Ferentz and Jamil Douglas and possibly even fellow rookie Cole Croston, King needs a very good training camp to secure a spot on the roster. In order to do that, the 23-year old not only has to show that he – unlike at Purdue – can play more than just one guard spot; he also has to improve his mobility and quickness to find success at the next level.
Seeing King achieve those goals and as a result beat out his competition is definitely not impossible. However, the more realistic scenario seems to be that he – at best given his potentially limited ceiling – is destined for the practice squad.