New England Patriots Undrafted Free Agents: Tracking the Latest Signings
The New England Patriots took their usual volume approach in the draft, trading their first-round pick for three mid-round picks and a seventh-rounder. The hope is that in picking enough players, the Patriots improve their chances of finding good ones.
The Patriots have done well in undrafted free agency recently, finding solid players in defensive tackle Kyle Love, linebacker Dane Fletcher and others.
An undrafted free agent always has a chance to make the roster when they're brought in by the Patriots.
Who are the Patriots giving that opportunity this year? Here's an updated tracker of all their undrafted free-agent signings.
Stephon Morris, CB, Penn State
Bill Belichick makes his first trip to his new pipeline in Penn State, where he connects with Stephen Morris, formerly a pupil of former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.
He ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, according to NFLDraftScout.com, and had five pass breakups in each of the past two years.
The Patriots added Logan Ryan in the draft, helping to replenish some depth in the secondary, and took it one step further with this signing.
Quentin Hines, RB, Akron
Hines transferred twice, first from Cincinnati to Murray State, and then finally to Akron. As a senior, he had 35 carries for 194 yards (5.5 YPA) and a touchdown, adding seven catches for 54 yards as well.
According to KFFL.com, he ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the combine and posted an 11'8" broad jump and a 42" vertical jump at his pro day in March.
The Patriots already have five running backs on the roster after trading for LeGarrette Blount earlier on Saturday (via ProFootballTalk.com), so the backfield is getting a little crowded.
Zach Sudfeld, TE, Nevada
The Patriots continue to show unwavering love for the tight end position, adding another solid blocking tight end in Sudfeld.
Sudfeld took a little bit to catch on, but posted solid numbers as a senior at Nevada with 45 catches for 598 yards and eight touchdowns. He is known more for his abilities as a blocker than as a pass-catcher.
The Patriots already have solid depth at tight end, assuming Jake Ballard returns to full health, but this is another step toward stability at what has become one of the most important positions in the Patriots offense.
The signing was confirmed by his agency, XAM Sports, via Chris Price of WEEI.com.
Matt Stankiewitch, C, Penn State
Bill Belichick quickly went back to the Penn State pipeline for another typical Patriots undrafted free agent on the offensive line.
The Patriots love finding high-upside players like Stankiewitch and letting offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia go to work.
Stankiewitch needs to refine his technique to avoid finding himself on the ground as frequently as he did in 2012, but that's where Scarnecchia comes in. As long as his high motor and dedication to football (he stayed at Penn State after the scandal) stay intact, he could be a solid depth addition to the Patriots offensive line.
T.J. Moe, WR, Missouri
Once again, the Patriots target a former quarterback who has converted to wide receiver and who also happens to be yet another wide receiver who excelled in the three-cone drill. Moe's time of 6.53 seconds was one of the five fastest for a wide receiver at the combine (via NFL.com).
Moe's production dipped over his final three years at Missouri, going from 92 to 54 to 40 receptions from 2010-2012, and from six touchdowns to four to one.
Moe's ability to throw the ball presents an intriguing option for gadget plays, but we said the same thing about Julian Edelman and he's yet to throw an NFL pass. Moe could develop into a solid slot receiver with time.
More on Moe from Russ Lande of NationalFootballPost.com:
He does not have the burst or acceleration needed to separate from defenders on his routes, and his lack of deep speed limit the type of routes he can be productive running. He is able to create space when he's aggressive with defenders coming out of his breaks, but he lacks the natural strength to be a consistent blocker at the POA. Moe will need to make an immediate impact on special teams as a rookie in order to make a final roster, as he does not possess the physical upside to become much more than a backup slot receiver.
The signing was first announced via Moe's official Twitter account.
Josh Kline, OL, Kent State
Kline was a guard at Kent State, and has prototypical size for the position at 6'3" and 310 pounds. The Patriots lost Donald Thomas to free-agency, so they needed to replenish their depth.
Russ Lande of NationalFootballPost.com says of Kline:
Kline was a very disappointing player to evaluate on film because he simply finds his way to the ground far too often. He projects to guard only as he does not possess the length and foot quickness needed to stay on the edge at the next level. He struggles to change direction against players who are active, and he will actually whiff and completely miss on a target. When in run blocking, he has a bad habit of bending at the waist and falling off blocks to the ground. He can sink his hips and anchor against the bull rush, but only when he plays with good knee bend and leverage. Kline needs to improve his footwork dramatically if he wants to find himself on a roster, even as a practice squad player.
Sounds like a very typical Dante Scarnecchia reclamation project to me.
The signing was reported by Allen Moff of the Record-Courier via Zuri Berry of Boston.com.
Brandon Jones, CB, Rutgers
Just call them the New England Scarlet Knights. The Patriots have been adding former Rutgers defensive backs like it's going out of style, but Jones is no ordinary Rutgers DB.
Jones led the Rutgers defense with five interceptions in 2012, also contributing nine pass breakups. His 4.56 forty likely contributed to him not being drafted, but he does have some ball skills—some even project him as a receiver.
The signing was confirmed by Rutgers recruiting assistant Leo Ferrine Jr. via Twitter.
Kanorris Davis, LB, Troy
At 5'9 3/8" and 211 pounds, Davis is much smaller than most NFL defenders. He played linebacker for Troy, and had 207 career tackles, 18 tackles for loss and five sacks from that spot, but may be better suited as a safety in the NFL.
The highlight for Troy [at their Pro Day] was linebacker Kanorris Davis, who worked out as a linebacker and a safety, and figures to be a priority free agent. Davis...ran the 40 in 4.60 and 4.65 seconds, had a 37-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-1 broad jump, did the three-cone drill in 7.07 seconds and the short shuttle in 4.20 seconds, and did 21 lifts of 225 pounds on the bench press.
The signing was reported by Matt Harris of WTVY in Alabama.
Elvis Fisher, OT, Missouri
Fisher was voted to the 2012 preseason All-SEC third team, but an early knee injury thwarted hopes of having a strong season to solidify his draft status. Now, he will compete for a backup spot on New England's offensive line, and will attend the Dante Scarnecchia school of castoff offensive linemen.
According to NEPatriotsDraft.com:
Fisher is slightly undersized at less than 300 pounds, but Fisher moves well for a big boy and was a team captain for Missouri. He has suffered multiple shoulder injuries, which contributed to him not getting drafted.
Brandon Ford, TE, Clemson
The Patriots continue to take their depth at tight end very seriously, and add productive Clemson tight end Brandon Ford to the mix.
At 6'4" and 245 pounds, he projects as more of an H-back in the NFL, which would make him an understudy for Aaron Hernandez's spot. He ranked fourth on the team in receptions (40), third in receiving yards (480) and second in touchdowns (eight), so clearly, his forte is as a receiver in the passing game.
Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Cincinnati
Kenbrell Thompkins' measurables don't stick out. He's 6'1" and 193 pounds, he has 32 1/4" long arms and his hands are rather small at 8 3/4". He ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash, put up just eight reps on the bench press and has just a 33 1/2" vertical (via NFL.com). He also wasn't overly productive, putting up 78 career receptions for 1,077 yards and four touchdowns in two years with Cincinnati.
What stands out about Thompkins? First, his three-cone drill, which at 6.88 seconds was one of the 10 fastest times at his position. He will provide more depth to a camp battle at wide receiver, where Bill Belichick is in full-on "re-do" mode at the position.
Here's what Russ Lande had to say about Thompkins:
There is little doubt from what I have seen that he has the talent to be a productive starting receiver in the NFL, but if he does not greatly improve his consistency catching the ball and run much sharper routes then he will have a hard time making an NFL roster.
Cory Grissom, DT, South Florida
At 6'1" and 306 pounds, Grissom has the size the Patriots like at defensive tackle, if maybe a little on the light side. He is known for his ability to plug gaps in the middle as a two-gap defensive tackle, but he also gets some penetration, having logged 13 tackles for loss and four sacks over the past two seasons.
Here's what NEPatriotsDraft.com has to say about the signing:
Grissom was one of my top 225 prospects and a Senior Bowl invite. Nicknamed “Porkchop”. Grissom is likely a back-up at nose tackle or a rotational 4-3 tackle. He lacks much range and doesn’t penetrate, but what he can do is clog up things in the middle. He has an above average anchor, can take on double teams and flashes the ability to shed blocks in tight spots. Grissom won’t make many plays, but he will eat space for others around him. It seems as though each year the Patriots find value on the DL through UDFA and Grissom is an example of that. He could have very easily been selected in the 6th or 7th round.
The signing was confirmed by USF's official Twitter account.
Chris McDonald, OL, Michigan State
The Patriots continue to add depth on the offensive line, and continue to find new prospects for Dante Scarnecchia to work with.
At 6'4" and 300 pounds, McDonald has prototypical size for an NFL offensive linemen. He was voted a 2012 All-Big Ten honorable mention by both the coaches and the media, showing that his performance was respected by his peers.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com reported on McDonald's performance at his Pro Day:
McDonald ran the 40 in 4.97 and 5.03 seconds. He had a 28-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-0 broad jump. His short shuttle time was 4.57 seconds and he did a 7.40-second three-cone drill. He also had 31 lifts of 225 on the bench. McDonald looks like a seventh-rounder or rookie free-agent pickup.
The signing was confirmed by Michigan State's official Twitter account.
Dewayne Cherrington, DT, Mississippi State
Dewayne Cherrington is a big man at 6'2" and 345 pounds. He is likely to be part of a big-time camp battle for roster spots, and could push Brandon Deaderick in that respect.
He was not terribly productive at Mississippi State, logging 3.5 combined tackles for loss in two seasons with the team.
The signing was confirmed by Holmes Community College's official Twitter account.
Ben Bartholomew, FB, Tennessee
The Patriots don't have a true fullback on the roster, so Bartholomew could be one of the undrafted free agents to stick on the roster.
Bartholomew was invited to the Raycom All-Star game this off-season. He played some TE in addition to his time at fullback. He was able to catch 10 passes for over 100 yards and a score.
The signing was reported by Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.
Ryan Allen, P, Louisiana Tech
Allen led the nation in yards per punt last year with 48, and was voted a consensus All-Ameican for his efforts.
With Zoltan Mesko firmly entrenched as the starter and zero chance of the team carrying two punters, this signing is most likely just for emergency purposes.
The signing was announced by Louisiana Tech's official Twitter account.
Ian Sluss, LB, Portland State
He's rather small for a linebacker at 6'0" and 225 pounds, but according to NFLDraftScout.com, Ian Sluss ran a 4.6 40-yard dash at his pro day.
OregonLive.com had the following to say about Sluss:
The 6-foot, 225-pound Sluss was an All-American for the Vikings in 2012, leading the team with 104 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, four interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
The signing was made official by the team on Friday.
Joe Vellano, DL, Maryland
At 6'2" and 306 pounds, Vellano is perfect size for an interior Patriots defensive linemen. He was voted to the All-ACC first team in 2012 for his solid season, posting 61 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and six sacks. That's quite the production for an interior defensive linemen.
The Patriots are hoping he will bring some of those gap-penetrating skills with him to New England.
Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com covered Vellano in glory with some Patriots comparisons:
Vellano is a max-effort player that leaves it all out on the field. He was an All-American selection as a Junior when he tallied 94 tackles from his DT position. I’d compare Vellano to a cross between Mike Wright and Dan Klecko. Yes he is undersized, yes he is a limited athelte, but he gets off the ball quickly, has an extremely strong upperbody and can win in a 1 gap scheme.
Outside of T.J. Moe, Vellano might have the best shot at making the roster of any Patriots undrafted rookie.
The signing was made official by the team on Friday.
Mike Zupancic, LS, Eastern Michigan
Not much scouting information is available on the 6'5", 240-pound long-snapper from Eastern Maryland, but hey, at least there was a highlight reel.
The signing was made official by the team on Friday.