The New England Patriots, who will be off until training camp starts later this month, currently have 89 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on August 31 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the summer, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots defend their Super Bowl title.
Today, the series continues with one of New England’s undrafted rookie signings.
Name: Andrew Beck
Position: Tight end
Jersey number: TBD (offseason #63)
Opening day age: 23
Size: 6’3, 255 lbs.
2018 review: After missing his entire 2017 campaign because of a broken foot, Andrew Beck bounced back well during his redshirt senior season at Texas: he appeared in all fourteen of the Longhorns’ games as the school’s top tight end option. As such, the starter saw regular action as both a blocker and a pass catcher — all while producing the best season of his career in either of the two categories.
As a receiver, Beck played 372 snaps and finished with 28 receptions on 42 targets. All in all, he gained 281 yards through the air and also caught two touchdown passes. The fifth-year senior also had 7 drops, for one of the worst drop rates among tight ends entering the 2019 NFL draft. Catching the football has never been Beck’s forte, however, considering his comparative lack of athleticism and average skills as a route runner.
Blocking is another story, though. While Beck may not be the best blocker in space and has shown some inconsistencies in this area, he can effectively create lanes in the ground game as a de facto sixth offensive linemen — all while also having plenty of experience as a pass blocker and when lining up as an H-back. This usage led to him being named to the first All-Big 12 team as a coaches’ selection.
Despite being recognized among the conference’s best players in 2018 and serving as a team captain at Texas, Beck did not hear his name called on draft day: his role in combination with his strengths and production was not enough to make teams invest in him — at least until rookie free agency began.
2019 preview: Beck found a team quickly after the draft when the Patriots signed him to a three-year contract including $115,000 in guarantees. While this number — the highest since linebacker Harvey Langi received the same from the club in 2017 — does ultimately not guarantee a spot on New England’s roster, it is still noteworthy and shows that the Patriots were willing to invest considerable resources to get Beck on board.
For him to keep a spot on the world champions’ pay roll, Beck will have to show growth early in his career — especially when it comes to his contributions in the passing game. If he can improve his route running, refine his blocking technique, and find ways to earn special teams snaps, he will put himself in a solid position on a tight end depth chart in turnover: with Rob Gronkowski retired, all spots appear to be up for grabs.
While New England’s other tight ends are favored to earn them — Matt LaCosse and Benjamin Watson are close to being locks, for example, while Ryan Izzo and Stephen Anderson have more experienced in the system — Beck could still carve out a role: he is a realistic candidate to make the Patriots’ practice squad as an emergency depth option and developmental project as a blocking tight end/fullback hybrid.