The New England Patriots currently have the maximum of 90 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on September 1 and ultimately make the team. Over the next weeks, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Today, the series continues with one of the Patriots’ cornerbacks.
Name: Ryan Lewis
Jersey number: 27
Opening day age: 24
Size: 6’0, 200 lbs.
2017 review: Despite a productive senior season at the University of Pittsburgh and impressive pro day numbers (4.37s 40-yard dash, 6.87s three-cone, 10’8 broad jump), Ryan Lewis went unselected in the 2017 NFL draft. Instead, the cornerback was signed as a free agent by the Arizona Cardinals with whom he spent all of his first NFL offseason workouts and training camp. Lewis also played five preseason contests for the team.
The speedster was on the field for 29.2% of the Cardinals’ defensive preseason snaps (94 of 322) and generally fared well: he registered six tackles as well as one pass breakup, and gave up only four receptions on nine targets for 17 yards and one touchdown. Lewis, who also played around a third of Arizona’s special teams snaps, was still unable to survive roster cuts and was forced to start the season on the Cardinals’ practice squad.
His tenure on the squad did not last long, though, as he was waived after only one week and subsequently ended up in New England. Lewis spent the remainder of his rookie campaign on the Patriots’ practice squad and earned honors as one of the practice players of the week a total of four times. Furthermore, the Patriots were willing to increase his salary to keep the Buffalo Bills from signing him to their active roster.
2018 preview: During the Patriots’ organized team activities, Lewis saw time as the top cornerback opposite the team’s number one Stephon Gilmore. While this may not yet be a sign of things to come, it further illustrates that New England’s coaching staff thinks highly of him. The Pitt product certainly needs to make the most out of chances like those over the next two months in order to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
Lewis certainly is an intriguing player considering his speed and abilities to play in a press-man scheme. And even though he only brings one year of college starting experience to the table, his rookie season on the practice squad should help the 24-year old in his quest for a roster spot – despite finding himself on a crowded position depth chart headed by roster locks Gilmore and second-round rookie Duke Dawson.
Realistically, New England has a maximum of two open spots behind their two locks and veterans Eric Rowe and Jason McCourty. Lewis, who hits New England’s salary cap with a non-guaranteed $480,000 this season, will need to continue leaving a positive impression during practice to earn one of those spots. If he does, it would not be a surprise to see him make the team or at least the practice squad another year.