The New England Patriots currently have 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 course of the offseason, we 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 a second-year edge defender.
Name: Keionta Davis
Position: Defensive edge
Jersey number: 58
Opening day age: 24
Size: 6’3, 280 lbs.
2017 review: Despite being rated as a potential mid-round pick, Keionta Davis went unselected during the 2017 NFL draft and remained on the open market for almost four months until the Patriots brought him on board early during their training camp. However, the rookie out of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was severely limited due to medical concerns after being diagnosed with a bulging disc in his neck.
The condition, which played a role in him going undrafted even though he had a productive career with the Mocs, led Davis to miss his entire rookie campaign: he was a non-participant during team drills during training camp and was held out of New England’s three preseason games after getting signed. Ultimately, the team opted to place Davis on the non-football injury list when roster cutdowns came around – ending his season before it even began.
2018 preview: After spending all of 2017 on the sidelines, Davis returned to the field for the Patriots’ organized team activities and minicamp practices. Participating fully, the 24-year old is in a position now – unlike last year – to compete for practice reps and ultimately a spot along New England’s defensive line, whether on the roster or practice squad. If the first few training camp sessions are an indication, however, it will not be easy.
With the top four spots on the defensive edge being firmly held down by Trey Flowers, Adrian Clayborn, Deatrich Wise Jr., and Derek Rivers, Davis will at best be asked to provide emergency depth behind them. Anything more than that would be a surprise as of right now, even though the second-year man brings an intriguing athletic skill set and plenty of versatility on defense and in the kicking game to the table.
Ultimately, however, he is projected to be on the outside looking in once roster cuts start. That does not disqualify him from still earning a spot on the Patriots’ payroll, though: injuries or inconsistent play higher up on the depth chart could create an opening (realistically on the practice squad). The undeniably talented Davis could take advantage if he outperforms players like Eric Lee and Geneo Grissom in the kicking game and when given the chance to showcase his skills on defense.