For the 14th straight season and for the 16th time in head coach Bill Belichick’s 18-year tenure, the New England Patriots have an undrafted player on the initial 53-man roster. In fact, this year the Patriots have a whopping four undrafted players in TE Jacob Hollister, OL Cole Croston, DL Adam Butler, and EDGE Harvey Langi.
Belichick likes to preach the notion that talent wins out at the end of the day and that it doesn’t matter if a player was a first round pick or signed through a tryout; the better player will make the team and will see more time on the field.
That’s not always true- draft picks in the first three rounds will always have an edge over undrafted players- but generally speaking, Belichick is pretty fair in his decision making. He also is looking to add the players with the most upside, so a player’s potential is also factored in.
“Do you go with a player with more experience and a little higher performance level now versus a younger player with more upside that has the chance or you expect will pass the experienced player that you’re talking about?,” Belichick posed to the media before roster cuts. “ And each one of those [decisions] is different. There’s no book on it. Every situation’s a little bit different. You just have to do the best you can with each one.”
And the Patriots opted for youth over veterans at each point. Hollister edged out James O’Shaughnessy (who had a whopping 6 waiver claims), Croston beat out 2016 sixth rounder Ted Karras, Butler and Langi beat out the likes of Kony Ealy, Woodrow Hamilton, Jonathan Freeny, and others.
So the team hopes that all four of these players hold promise for immediate contributions and bright futures.
Here are all of the undrafted players to make the initial 53-man roster for the Patriots over the years.
2000: WR Shockmain Davis, OG Adam Davis, DT Reggie Grimes, LB Matt Chatham, LS Lonie Paxton
2001: DT Jace Sayler
2004: CB Randall Gay
2005: DT Mike Wright
2006: LB Pierre Woods
2007: QB Matt Gutierrez, LB David Herron
2008: LB Gary Guyton
2009: QB Brian Hoyer
2010: TE Steve Maneri, DT Kyle Love, LB Dane Fletcher
2011: LB Jeff Tarpinian, LS Danny Aiken
2012: RB Brandon Bolden, OT Markus Zusevics, DT Marcus Forston, EDGE Justin Francis
2013: WR Kenbrell Thompkins, TE Zach Sudfeld, OL Josh Kline, OL Chris Barker, DT Joe Vellano, P Ryan Allen
2014: LB Deontae Skinner, CB Malcolm Butler
2015: WR Chris Harper, C David Andrews, CB Justin Coleman* (Patriots released Coleman during roster cuts, but added him to the active roster prior to week 1)
2016: RB D.J. Foster, CB Jonathan Jones
2017: TE Jacob Hollister, OL Cole Croston, DT Adam Butler, EDGE Harvey Langi