As opposed to last year, when the shallow pool of available options led to the New England Patriots signing just a single player after the draft, the team has been more active on the undrafted rookie market. More than 24 hours into the signing period, the Patriots have reached agreements with a reported seven players.
Among them are a quarterback who might move to wide receiver, a punter, and a defensive tackle out of Alabama. It’s an intriguing mix of under-the-radar talent that, for one reason or another, did not hear its names called during the draft’s seven rounds.
One of those post-draft signings is D’Eriq King.
A six-year senior who started 37 games between stints at Houston and Miami, King is listed as a quarterback but has experience at other positions as well. The 24-year-old could theoretically line up anywhere from QB to running back, to wide receiver, to kick returner.
“I’m excited, it’s good,” King told Pro Football Network after joining the team. “I was a little nervous because of the unknown, but I was blessed. enough to sign with a team like the Patriots. I’m thankful for the opportunity. It was an exciting time. I talked to Matt Groh, and he was excited. I’m thankful for the opportunity. He told me I’ll do a little bit of everything — receiver, quarterback, running back — whatever I can do to stick.
“Absolutely, definitely motivated to prove my worth. I’m just excited to play football, period. I’m definitely motivated, and you have a chip on your shoulder, whether you get drafted or not. I’ve played quarterback my whole life, but I think I can be a pretty good receiver as well.”
King, who caught 61 passes for 520 yards and three touchdowns during his college career, may or may not turn into the next Julian Edelman. What is clear, though, is that he might be the highest-profile name on New England’s list of post-draft additions.
He is not the only one worth talking about, though.
The Patriots also signed another player who changed positions during his college career: safety Brenden Schooler out of Texas, who played wide receiver at both Oregon and Arizona before transferring to Texas and making a position switch to safety. He projects primarily as a special teamer at the next level.
Speaking of special teams, punter Jake Julien also signed the team. While All-Pro Jake Bailey remains under contract, Julien will compete for the job over the summer. Averaging 43.4 yard per punt during his college career at Eastern Michigan, he would not be the first rookie punter to unseat an incumbent.
The Patriots furthermore added two offensive linemen. Despite already picking three players at the position group up during the draft, center Kody Russey — another six-year senior who spent time at Louisiana Tech before transferring to Houston — was signed, as was fellow interior lineman Liam Shanahan from LSU.
For Shanahan, joining the Patriots is a homecoming. Originally from Marlborough, Mass., he started his college career at Harvard where he graduated with a degree in economics and a minor in Celtic language and literature. He transferred to LSU in 2020 and spent his final two seasons starting alongside New England sixth-round draft pick Chasen Hines.
On the other side of the ball, two players were added. DaMarcus Mitchell is another player to change positions and schools; he started on offense and at Southwest Mississippi Community College, and ended as an edge at Purdue.
LaBryan Ray, meanwhile, spent his entire five-year career at Alabama under Bill Belichick confidante Nick Saban. A big run stuffer who stands at 6-foot-5, 284 pounds, Ray comes with serious durability concerns — he missed a combined 26 games due to injury — but he does have some upside to line up on the interior defensive line alongside former Crimson Tide teammate Christian Barmore.
None of those signings are official just yet, but the expectation is that all of them will be on the field when the Patriots star their rookie minicamp in two weeks. Also among them will be Rhode Island defensive back Coby Tippett, who received an invitation for a tryout, and the club’s 10 draft picks.