The New England Patriots were quite busy on draft weekend last month. Not only did the team make numerous trades to end up with 10 total player selections, it also added 15 more youngsters (so far, at least) during the subsequent free agency period. Today, those signings were finally made official by the Patriots. The following 15 players are therefore now part of the team’s 90-man offseason roster moving forward:
QB J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech: Smith may be on the shorter side compared to your average Patriots quarterback, but he played some impressive football in his three years as starter at Louisiana Tech. 2019 was his best season: the Conference USA’s Offensive Player of the Year completed 64.3% of his passes for 2,977 yards as well as 18 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
QB Brian Lewerke, Michigan State: Lewerke had a sub-60 percent in each of his four seasons with the Spartans and needs to get more consistent in his reads and decision making, but does check some of the boxes the Patriots are valuing: he has a good frame, a strong arm strength and also has the quick processing skills to find success in the team’s scheme.
RB J.J. Taylor, Arizona: Despite his lack of size, Taylor proved himself a productive player at Arizona due to his quickness and nifty footwork. As part of a running back committee, he registered 148 carries for 721 yards and five touchdowns in 2019 — a regression from the 255-carry 1,434-yard campaign he had the previous year.
WR Will Hastings, Auburn: A former teammate of Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham, Hastings return to the field in 2019 after a year-long stint on the sidelines due to a knee injury. Primarily a slot receiver, he caught 19 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown. That said, he had 26 catches for 525 and four scores before his injury — and when Stidham was still his quarterback.
WR Isaiah Zuber, Mississippi State: Zuber transferred from Kansas State to Mississippi State ahead of the 2019 season to take advantage of his final year of eligibility after graduation, but struggled to find success at his new school: coming off a 52-catch, 619-yard season, he registered just 14 receptions for 221 yards and two scores as a slot receiver in the Bulldogs’ system.
WR Jeff Thomas, Miami: Thomas’ biggest red flag upon entering the NFL is neither his size nor his lack of consistent production, but rather the character concerns he brings with him: he consistently ran sloppy routes at Miami, and was briefly dismissed from the program in 2018 due to attitude issues and team rule violations. If he can become more mature, however, his natural athleticism makes him a player to watch.
WR Sean Riley, Syracuse: Riley was not invited to the scouting combine, but it may not have been due to lack of production: he is one of the most prolific returnman that Syracuse has ever had, ranking first in kickoff returns (115) as well as kickoff return yards (2,433) in school history at the conclusion of his four-year career.
TE Rashod Berry, Ohio State: Berry struggled with injuries during the 2019 season and was subsequently not invited to the scouting combine. Seeing his role shift towards that of a fullback/blocking tight end than that of a pass catcher, he registered only two catches for 20 yards during his 2019 senior season.
TE Jake Burt, Boston College: Even though his production for the Eagles was limited, and his final college season ended prematurely due to a collarbone injury, the Patriots have reportedly paid Burt $80,000 in guarantees to join their roster as the fourth tight end added over the weekend. Burt brings good size to the table, and could carve out a role as a blocker.
DT Bill Murray, William & Mary: One of the best players in William & Mary history, Murray was dominant as both a pass rusher and a run defender against FCS-level competition: he led the team in both sacks (6.0) and tackles for loss (11.5) in 2019. The most impressive part of his game might be his big play ability on special teams, however, as Murray blocked four kicks last season, and 10 total in his career.
DT Courtney Wallace Jr, Louisiana Tech: While posting solid numbers as an interior pass rusher at Louisiana Tech in 2019 — Wallace Jr. had 13 combined quarterback disruptions — he appears better suited as an early down two-gapper from the 3-technique position. After all, he has the frame to hold his ground in the running game.
DE Nick Coe, Auburn: Despite coming off a 7.0-sack season, Coe lost his starting job at Auburn in 2019 and also was suspended for one game because of disciplinary issues. While his progression, football character and lack of experience raise red flags that led to him going undrafted, his size and play strength make Coe an interesting prospect as a situational edge rusher at the next level.
LB De’Jon Harris, Arkansas: A three-year starter and team captain at Arkansas, Harris is at his best when playing downhill from an off-the-ball alignment. While his size and limited lateral range could pose a problem at the next level, the Patriots are apparently high on him: they reportedly signed him to a contract including $140,000 in guarantees.
LB Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State: Tezino rarely left the field over the last two years as a starting inside linebacker in San Diego State’s defense. He lacks ideal size as well as a natural feel for coverage, but does offer NFL-caliber physicality and was also voted captain during his final collegiate season — one during which he constantly was around the ball.
CB Myles Bryant, Washington: Bryant may not be the most impressive athlete or have prototypical size, but he does bring a high motor and football IQ to the table. He also offers plenty of experience after having started 38 games for the Huskies, primarily as a nickel cornerback.
If we compare this list of players to the ones previous reported in our Pats Pulpit Undrafted Free Agency Tracker, we can see that one name is missing: defensive end Trevon Hill out of Miami is not among the players signed today. His agent was the first to break the news of him joining the Patriots but so far he has not signed a contract with the club. While this could still happen further down the line, the hold-up is noteworthy.
For the team being and with fullback Jakob Johnson not counting due to his international status, therefore, the team has 89 players under contract.