Patriots begin to stock up on undrafted free agents with Mizzou DT Augusta

Patriots begin to stock up on undrafted free agents with Mizzou DT Augusta

FOXBORO -- After making just four draft picks this weekend, the Patriots will be loading up on undrafted players to help round out their roster leading up to OTAs and training camp.

The picks of Derek Rivers (third round), Antonio Garcia (third), Deatrich Wise (fourth) and Conor McDermott (sixth) brought the number of players on the team's roster to 69. They'll hit 90 before the start of camp, and the majority of the new additions will likely end up being undrafted rookies. 

We'll track undrafted signings in this space and update as the weekend progresses . . . 

DT Josh Augusta, Missouri, 6-foot-4, 347 pounds (per Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star): While speaking about Alan Branch last season, Bill Belichick said, "Guys that weigh 350 pounds and are athletic and long like he is, I mean they don’t grow on trees. They’re hard to find." Augusta wasn't even considered a starter during his last season at Missouri, but his unique size and quick feet (he was used as a fullback at times by the Tigers) made him an interesting fit late on draft weekend. He weighed closer to 400 pounds last fall, but according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was diagnosed with a thyroid issue in January and has shed weight since, which helped him post a 5.12-second 40 time (which some had clocked as a sub-5.0 time), a 28.5-inch vertical, a 108-inch broad jump and a 7.9-second three-cone at his pro day. Though he only played about 50 percent of his team's snaps the last two seasons, guys like him don't grow on trees. We identified him as a fit in New England in our Prototypical Patriots series.

OT Max Rich, Harvard, 6-foot-7, 310 pounds (per Harvard): Rich has the length that the Patriots usually like on the edge, and he's a good athlete to boot. He ran a 5.12-second 40 and a 7.18-second three-cone drill. He also jumped 30 inches in the vertical. He'll be competing for time with Garcia and McDermott, but an Ivy League guy with good athleticism? Seems like Dante Scarnecchia wouldn't mind working with that kind of player. He was highlighted as one of our Prototypical Patriots leading up to the draft.

WR Austin Carr, Northwestern, 6-feet, 202 pounds: Carr had a very productive 2016, catching 80 passes for 1,170 yards and 12 scores, joining Desmond Howard (1990) and Allen Robinson (2012) as the only two others who have led the Big Ten in all three categories in one season. He's not a burner (4.6-second 40-yard dash at his pro day), but he's quick (4.07-second short shuttle, 6.70 three-cone). Off the field, he's someone whose interests extend beyond the game, as the Chicago Tribune profiled here.

ST Jason Thompson, Utah, 6-foot-2, 210 pounds (per Josh Furlong of Thompson was strictly a special-teamer for the Utes, which will be just fine with the Patriots if he can prove he brings value to that third of the game in New England. Thompson had an eye-popping pro day, running the 40 in 4.44 and 4.45 seconds, with a 39.5-inch vertical, an 11-1 broad jump, a 4.01-second short shuttle, a 6.57-second three-cone, and 20 reps of 225 pounds. 

TE Jacob Hollister, Wyoming, 6-foot-4, 239 pounds (per his Twitter account): The Patriots signed both Hollister twins, according to their Twitter accounts. Neither was invited to the combine, but both are intriguing athletes. Jacob, a tight end, ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, jumped 36.5 inches in the vertical and broad-jumped 121 inches. He caught 29 passes for 488 yards and six touchdowns last season. 

WR Cody Hollister, Arkansas, 6-foot-3, 208 pounds (per his Twitter account): Surprise, surprise. Cody, a wide receiver, put up pro-day numbers that matched up pretty well with his brother's. He clocked a 4.53-second 40-yard dash, he hit 36 inches in the vertical and broad-jumped 120 inches. He reportedly had toe surgery following last season. 

LB Harvey Langi, BYU, 6-foot-2, 251 pounds (per his Twitter account): After playing out of position on the edge last season, Langi will have a chance to find his niche at the NFL level. With good size and quickness (4.32-second short shuttle), the former running back could compete for time in the kicking game in New England. The Patriots were represented at BYU's pro day

CB Dwayne Thomas, LSU, 5-foot-11, 196 pounds (per his Twitter account): A versatile corner who played both inside and out for the Tigers, Thomas ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash at his pro day to go along with a 33.5-inch vertical and a three-cone of 7.19 seconds. 

DT Adam Butler, Vanderbilt, 6-foot-4, 293 pounds (per Vanderbilt): A big body on the interior of the defensive line for the Commodores, he should be able to help spell Malcom Brown, Vincent Valentine and Alan Branch during camp. UMass football fans will remember Butler as the player who hugged Minutemen kicker Blake Lucas after Lucas missed a chip-shot attempt last season.

DE Corey Vereen, Tennessee, 6-foot-1, 254 pounds (per his agent): Vereen started 11 games for the Vols opposite first-round pick Derek Barnett last season. He had a career-high seven sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. 

CB DJ Killings, UCF, 5-foot-10, 187 pounds (per Mike Reiss of ESPN): Nick Caserio reportedly worked out Killings and fellow UCF corner Shaquill Griffin (Seahawks third-rounder) just before the draft. Killings ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, jumped 37.5 inches and put up an impressive 22 reps on the bench. 

S David Jones, Richmond, 6-foot-3, 210 pounds (per the Tampa Bay Times): Played in just six games last season after breaking his arm, but had 29 tackles and two picks before going down. According to, Jones gained about 45 pounds over the course of his college career. He had an eye-opening pro day, running a 4.43-second 40 and jumping 34 inches in the vertical. 

S Damarius Travis, Minnesota, 6-foot-1, 206 pounds (per the Pioneer Press): A combine invitee, Travis clocked a 7.08-second three-cone drill in Indy. He was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten player after leading his team with 83 tackles to go along with two picks and five pass breakups. 

DB Kenny Moore, Valdosta State, 5-foot-10, 185 pounds (per Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal): A Division 2 first-team All-American, Moore was also an All-Gulf South Conference player three times. Moore's a prospect who still may have plenty of room to grow as he did not play football until his senior year of high school. 

RB LeShun Daniels, Iowa, 5-foot-11, 222 pounds (per his Twitter account): An All-Big Ten honorable mention last season, he ran for 1,013 yards and scored 10 times. The big-bodied back clocked a 4.57-second 40-yard dash but may be more explosive than he is fast. He jumped 36 inches in the vertical. 

OL Cole Croston, Iowa, 6-foot-5, 314 pounds (per the Des Moines register): A tackle who may have the ability to kick inside, Croston will have a long road to a roster spot after the Patriots spent picks on Antonio Garcia and Conor McDermott. His background playing under Kirk Ferentz (formerly Bill Belichick's offensive line coach in Cleveland) and Brian Ferentz (formerly Belichick's tight ends coach in New England) while with the Hawkeyes should help him, though. 

OL Jason King, Purdue, 6-foot-3, 303 pounds (per his Twitter account): Built for the interior, King was named an All-Big Ten honorable mention last season. He's started 82 total games for the Boilermakers. 

OT Andrew Jelks, Vanderbilt, 6-foot-6, 309 pounds (per the Tennesseean): The Patriots gave Jelks a chance after an injury-rittled career for the Commodores. He started nine games as a red-shirt freshman and then started all 12 at left tackle as a sophomore. Then, both as a junior and senior, he suffered leg injuries that ended those seasons before they began. 

Report: Slater returning to Patriots

Report: Slater returning to Patriots

Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater has signed a two-year deal to return to the team, according to an ESPN's Mike Reiss.

Slater had made a free-agent visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. The seven-time Pro Bowl special teams ace, who turns 33 in September, has spent the past 10 seasons in a New England. Slater, one of the veteran leaders in the locker room, signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract extension in 2016.

The Patriots traded with the Oakland Raiders for kick returner/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson earlier this week to bolster their special teams.


Report: New catch rule coming to NFL

Report: New catch rule coming to NFL

A new catch rule is coming to the NFL.

So, controversies such as the Jesse James' touchdown reversal in the Steelers' loss to the Patriots in December and the Kelvin Benjamin call in the Bills-Pats game a week later likely would have resulted in upheld TDs under the new rule.

According to the Washington Post, Troy Vincent, the NFL VP of football operations, said competition committee members plan to propose getting rid of portions of the rule related to a receiver going to the ground while making a catch and to slight movement of the football while it’s in the receiver’s hands. Vincent also said the committee also intends to raise the bar by which an on-field ruling of a catch could be overturned via replay review.

That apparently was what was done in Super Bowl 52, when the Eagles' Corey Clement's juggling TD catch was not overturned via replay. 

“We worked backward,” said Vincent told the Post. “We looked at plays and said: Do you want that to be a catch? And then we applied that to the rule.”

The rule modifications could be approved by the competition committee as early Tuesday, the Post reported, and owners will meet next week in Orlando to vote on it. Rule changes must be approved by at least 24 of the 32 franchises. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been pushing for the catch rule to be modified.