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.
Take a look at our previous profiles below.
One of my favorite things to over analyze and put way too much thought into every year is the guaranteed money given to undrafted free agents. More specifically the leader of the pack. This year’s leader is linebacker De’Jon “Scoota” Harris from Arkansas. He was given a $140,000 guarantee, the highest given to any Patriot UDFA since 2013, when people started caring about this sort of thing.
The list of leaders each year since 2013 and their guarantees are as follows:
- 2019: Andrew Beck - TE ($115,000)
- 2018: Ralph Webb - RB ($70,000)
- 2017: Harvey Langi - LB ($115,000)
- 2016: Jonathan Jones - CB ($35,000)
- 2015: Chris Harper - WR ($20,000)
- 2014: Cameron Gordon - LB ($35,000)
- 2013: T.J. Moe - WR ($30,000)
This list is obviously a mixed bag of players ranging from premier slot corner to Cameron Gordon . . . so it proves that the highest money guarantee doesn’t mean a roster guarantee. It also proves that the primary focus of where that money goes is a position of need, not the individual player. There could be a strong argument made that entering each of the seasons above, the player who had the highest guarantee among UDFA was a part of the weakest position group. Just take a look at 2019 and tight end Andrew Beck.
Only three of the players on this list, Harper, Jones, and Langi, survived final cuts. So ultimately Harris’ big fat check doesn’t guarantee him a roster spot.
What does “Scoota” Harris look like as a player?
If I had to use one word to describe him it would be downhill. It seems like that was the only role in which he was used at Arkansas. He played in the middle of the Razorback defense and was rarely asked to do anything other than be a thumper, because he was damn good at it. For three straight seasons Harris racked up 100+ tackles, in addition to his on field efforts he was voted team captain prior to last season. In terms of a pro comparison, think Elandon Roberts, another undersized tackling machine who projects to contribute on special teams as well as on defense.
Should Harris stick to this, or any NFL roster, he would likely be used as a special teamer and as an early down linebacker. He moves well in a straight line but has some pretty tight hips that can get him in trouble if he’s moving side to side. He is not someone you want in coverage either, his change of direction is lacking and guesses on routes.
Ultimately his roster chances fall in the lap of others. Ju’Whaun Bentley, Cassh Maluia, and Kyahva Tezino all project in the middle of the defense, that doesn’t include Dont’a Hightower who will certainly wear the green dot and play all three/four linebacker positions. Bentley came out of the gates firing his rookie season but sputtered a bit last year as the linebacker room filled up, he should see his role increase in 2020. Maluia is a more athletic and versatile guy who played very well in coverage in his time at Wyoming, Tezino will have his own profile so I won’t give it all away but I really like what I've seen out of him.
“Scoota” will have plenty to overcome if he wants to secure his spot on the roster, which we all know isn’t a guarantee.