Most people think the Cam Newton signing spelled doom for Patriots rookie Will Hastings. The 5’10” 175lb slot receiver’s only shot was to show great rapport with Jarrett Stidham to earn himself a roster spot, right? Yeah, probably, but he can certainly earn his way onto the practice squad, and you’ll see why you want him there in this blog.
Before you finish it, however, please check out our other UDFA profiles here:
- Myles Bryant, CB, Washington
- Rashod Berry, TE/DE, Ohio State
- De’Jon “Scoota” Harris, LB, Arkansas
- Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State
- Bill Murray, DT, William and Mary
- Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
- Kyahva Tezino, LB, SDSU
- Jake Burt, TE, Boston College
- Sean Riley, WR, Syracuse
Hastings has a great story. He had three offers coming out of high school so he enrolled at Auburn as a preferred walk-on kicker. That’s right, he moonlighted as a kicker to make the team as a receiver. I hope you’re already rooting for him.
He made the team and returned a couple kicks as a freshman, he had 11 catches as a sophomore, and as a junior his numbers jumped to 26 catches for 525 yards and four touchdowns. This was due in part to his buddy Jarrett Stidham playing quarterback. He and Stidham showed an immediate connection and made one hell of a duo.
I shared some of their highlights on Twitter:
Here he is in the Mizzou game in 2017. Made a couple of nice catches including a 50 yard bomb from Stidham. Second clip is a great diving catch in a deep out. pic.twitter.com/jVRjpDAHg4— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) July 13, 2020
Hastings had a career game against Georgia Southern in 2017. 4 catches, 68 yards, and a touchdown. Here are the first three catches. . . pic.twitter.com/Bgx8OOcXwJ— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) July 13, 2020
. . . and here is the touchdown. Hastings out runs the corner to the pylon here. Come for the touchdown, stay for the Stidham hug. pic.twitter.com/P46omsCiUk— keagan (@KeaganStiefel) July 13, 2020
This is nice and all but what are the chances he makes the roster? Slim.
The Patriots’ wide receiver room is pretty much set and there are about eight guys vying for that last spot. I do however think Hastings is a perfect practice squad receiver, though. He’s shifty and has a never ending motor. He ran a 6.64 three-cone drill and a 4.03 short shuttle. Those are comparable with Julian Edelman’s numbers from his pro day (6.62 three-cone and 3.92 short shuttle). Obviously I'm not saying he is Edelman but he does possess the ability to play at the next level.
He can be a perfect clone of other NFL slot guys. Cole Beasley, John Brown, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios, Jakeem Grant, and Albert Wilson all play in New England’s division. Hastings can mirror them on the scout team, which might make him such an invaluable player to have. And — Who knows? — maybe his former college teammate will be throwing to him after all.