The New England Patriots, who are currently in their middle of their 2019 training camp, have 90 players on their active roster at the moment. 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 depth offensive linemen.
Name: Dan Skipper
Position: Offensive tackle
Jersey number: 72
Opening day age: 24
Size: 6’9, 325 lbs.
2018 review: After appearing in just one game over the course of the 2017 season, Dan Skipper’s second year in the NFL did not go any better — quite the opposite, actually: he spent some time on the Detroit Lions’ and Denver Broncos’ practice squads, was without a team for nearly three months in between, and ultimately joined the Patriots on a futures contract. The former undrafted free agent did not play a single snap in 2018.
Skipper started the season in Detroit, where he also spent the majority of his rookie campaign. During the preseason, he was on the field in all four contests and played 109 of the Lions’ 290 offensive snaps (37.6%). Moving between his primary position of left guard and the left tackle spot, Skipper was serviceable as both a pass protector and a run blocker — but little more, which caused the team to release him during roster cutdowns.
The Arkansas product, who spent his college career under current Patriots assistant Bret Bielema, joined Detroit’s practice squad one day after his release but not even a week into the season was let go again. It took until late November for Skipper to find a new home, but find one he did: the Broncos signed him to their own practice squad, where he spent the remainder of the team’s season before moving on to New England in January.
All in all, Skipper’s 2018 season was nothing to write home about — but it did pave the way for him to come to New England, a move that could pay off for him when judged by his tenure with the club so far and the role is playing during training camp.
2019 preview: Skipper joined the Patriots on a one-year contract that hits the team’s salary cap with ‘only’ $505,000 this season — reflective of his status as a roster bubble player who came on board with rather limited expectations. So far, however, it appears as if he just might exceed them: with starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn still limited in practice, Skipper has taken on a prominent role as the number two option at the position.
Unless he improves, however, it would still not be surprising to see New England look for an upgrade even with Wynn’s status up in the air. After all, the 24-year-old has proven himself to be little more than an up-and-down player during the early portions of training camp. Starting left guard Joe Thuney might therefore still be the better alternative to take over at left tackle should the situation call for it.
Ultimately, Skipper will need a good preseason and solid practice performances to really establish himself as a realistic option as the swing/backup tackle on the roster. It is certainly possible that he can do that, and the team appears to have some confidence in him, but a development in the other direction — a release during cutdown day — also would not be all that shocking as things currently stand.