Patriot fans have become accustomed to the ever present undrafted free agent (UDFA) on the roster. Every opening day roster since 2004 has seen one or more UDFA’s, a total of 34 players over that span. This year there are 16 Patriot hopefuls looking to extend the streak and make the final 55. Let’s take a look at each player and how they can make the roster.
The theme of the 2020 Patriot draft class is versatility. Whether it is the guys who were drafted or the UDFA’s almost everyone has value at multiple positions, but no one has more positional versatility than Rashod Berry. In his time at Ohio State, Berry played snaps at defensive end, tight end, fullback, and as a core special teamer. He was a jack of all trades, but master of none.
Though he never excelled in a specific spot at Ohio State he showed flashes of just how quick he could adapt to and learn at new positions, playing 17 games at three different positions, tight end, defensive end, and full back.
Most of Berry’s time came at tight end. I dove into his play at the position over on my twitter page. (@KeaganStiefel)
He could have done a better job at completely sealing Willikes but Berry does a good job of bullying him at the point of attack. Nice double team and climb to the LB out of the Offensive Tackle here as well pic.twitter.com/SDNaD9AH2A— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) May 27, 2020
He was used mostly as a blocker in 2019 but Berry proved he can be effective in the passing game as well, he looked like a man amongst boys at times. pic.twitter.com/jx1vhXaqLv— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) May 27, 2020
In terms of strengths at tight end, Berry is a high effort guy who won’t stop on a play until the whistle blows (or for a few seconds after). He’s a violent run blocker and can make plays when he is schemed open, as you saw above.
His weaknesses come with his lack of athleticism. He’s not going to outrun a safety or even a linebacker. He doesn’t run great routes and he got caught more than a handful of times stopping his feet in the run game, allowing defenders to get back into the play. He was used in a hybrid “super back” type role in 2019.
Since most of his time came at tight end that is where you will find tape of him, so that is where I could dive in, but he may not have been brought to New England for his play one the offensive side of the ball.
In the days after the draft Paul Yanow had a good catch on twitter, noting that Berry called himself an outside linebacker for the Patriots in his twitter bio. You can find that tweet here.
Interesting when looking at Rashod Berry's profile. List's himself as OLB for the Patriots. Everything I saw when he signed had him listed at TE. I know that he started off on defense at OSU before switching to TE his last few years @tkyles39 @DougKyed @ezlazar pic.twitter.com/Sn0J8vqPG3— Paul Yanow (@pyanow45) May 4, 2020
He spent limited time at the position in college and was never really looked at as a defender coming out. Since then the “OLB” has been removed from his bio, it will be interesting to see where he lines up come training camp.
Despite not being able to find college film of Berry on defense I found this outstanding clip of him playing defensive end in high school.
This is high school so it means nothing but this may be my favorite highlight I’ve ever watched. Absolutely dominates the other team. Also I fee for #52. He is fed up pic.twitter.com/OtNSHlfcVJ— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) May 27, 2020
Zero regard for human life out of Berry, No. 52 didn’t stand a chance.
In terms of a fit, I believe Berry is viewed as a straight up football player. We’ve all heard it from Belichick many times. It all comes down to whether you can play football or not, and Berry can play football. The Patriots drafted two tight ends and signed another in Jake Burt as an UDFA. They also drafted two EDGE/OLB types in the draft and signed three more as UDFA. They loaded up those two positions in addition to signing Berry. It’s going to be tough to carve out a spot for himself with all of that competition but Berry’s versatility may give him an edge.