The New England Patriots, who ended their 2018 mandatory minicamp yesterday, 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 an undrafted rookie punter.
Name: Corey Bojorquez
Jersey number: TBD (offseason #71)
Opening day age: 21
Size: 6’0, 200 lbs.
2017 review: Corey Bojorquez's second and final season at the University of New Mexico – he transferred from Cerritos College in 2016 – was the best of his collegiate career. Overall, he punted the football 67 times for a gross average of 47.3 yards per kick and a net of 41.9 yards. To put those numbers in perspective: He would have ranked seventh in both statistics in the NFL last season.
Furthermore, Bojorquez was able to produce fairly high fair catch numbers – 37.3% of his punts were not returned – and regularly pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line: He did so on 47.8% of his attempts. But while Bojorquez's leg strength was on display in all 12 of his games last year, his ball placement remained a bit of a work in progress as a total of 17.9% of his punts ended in touchbacks.
Overall, Bojorquez, who also served as the Lobos' holder on field goal and extra point attempts, was able to properly showcase his skill set before entering draft season. And even though he ultimately was not selected, the left-footed kicker found a home two weeks after the draft.
2018 preview: By signing Bojorquez as an undrafted free agent, the Patriots have two punters on their offseason roster for the first time since 2013. Back then, the team added Ryan Allen as a free agent to compete against incumbent Zoltan Mestko. Allen won the battle and is serving as the Patriots’ punter ever since – a punter whose spot on the team was never really challenged until Bojorquez was added in mid-May.
While the veteran should still be seen as the favorite to win the battle, Bojorquez will be given plenty of chances to show that he belongs on the team. His biggest advantage entering his competition with Allen is his foot strength. While the veteran has never been the strongest kicker, the rookie has routinely shown that he can dramatically change field position if asked to do so.
In order to earn the job, though, Bojorquez needs to improve his ball placement and maximize hang time while doing so – two of Allen's strong suits. If the 21-year old can address those weaknesses, he will be able to put himself in a position to do just what Allen did five years ago: Enter the offseason as an undrafted rookie and beat out the incumbent.