Patriots

Patriots

The New England Patriots have added a number of undrafted players via free agency the past few days and while some are more notable than others, they're all interesting pick-ups nonetheless. 

Although Bill Belichick didn't add a quarterback via the draft, he did add a few in free agency, among other players. So, let's get to know the signees a little more in-depth ahead of the 2020 NFL season.

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Will Hastings - WR, Auburn

The signing of the 23-year-old didn't come as a surprise to anyone at Auburn, and it's not difficult to see why.

Quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who will likely take over the Patriots offense in 2020, spent the 2017 season tossing passes to Hastings at Auburn before the receiver tore his ACL and missed the 2018 season. Hastings reeled in 26 receptions for 525 yards and four touchdowns in 2017. While he did see a decline in 2019 with just 19 receptions for 222 yards and one touchdown, his ACL injury could've been to blame. 

Hastings was a low-risk signing that could end up paying off. 

J'Mar Smith - QB, Louisiana Tech

The Patriots signed a couple of QBs in free agency after not drafting one. Louisiana Tech's J'Mar Smith likely won't see any playing time for New England in 2020, but his stats speak for themselves. Smith, 23, threw for 2,977 yards, 18 touchdowns with only five interceptions in 2019 with a 64.3 completion percentage. 

The multi-sport athlete and was actually drafted by the San Diego Padres out of high school in the 2015 MLB Draft. However, he decided not to sign but played both baseball and football at Lousiana Tech. His father, Kenny, was also a Patriots defensive lineman in the 2000s, but never played a game for New England. 

 

Undrafted free agent signings are typically low-risk, but perhaps Smith will earn the third QB spot on the roster. 

Rashod Berry - TE, Ohio State

Although the Patriots added two tight ends in the draft, that didn't stop them from signing Berry. In three years with the Buckeyes, Berry tallied 198 yards and four touchdowns. While that's not extremely impressive from the receiving end, Berry is very versatile and even played defensive end in high school. 

If he is to crack the roster, it would be more reasonable to see him take on some sort of blocking tight end role. 

Myles Bryant - CB, Washington

The Patriots added a cornerback who had three interceptions last season for the Huskies. The 22-year-old also recorded 43 solo tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. 

He was named Washington's most outstanding defensive player and also won the Tyee Sports Council Community Service award at the postseason awards banquet.

Bill Murray - DT, William & Mary 

Murray posted a great senior season in which he ranked first among all Division I players with four blocked kicks. He also led William & Mary with six sacks in 2019 and his collegiate stats include 10 blocked kicks, 19 sacks, 143 tackles, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Isaiah Zuber - WR, Mississippi State

Zuber joins Auburn's Hastings,  Syracuse's Sean Riley and Miami's Jeff Thomas (more on them below) as undrafted wide receiver signees. In one season with Mississippi, Zuber reeled in 14 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Zuber began his college career with Kansas State, but transferred to Mississippi State for his final season. 

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The 23-year-old was much more impressive with Kansas, hauling in 127 receptions for 1,321 yards and 11 TDs in three seasons. 

De'Jon Harris - LB, Arkansas

Harris joins the Patriots after a down year in 2019. The 22-year-old recorded 52 solo tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles last season, which is down from his 2018 campaign where he notched 62 solo tackles and two assists. 

While Arkansas defense struggled last season, Harris was the one bright spot and he'll continue searching for success with the Patriots. 

Sean Riley - WR, Syracuse

In 2019, Riley had 36 receptions for 275 yards and one touchdown for the Orangemen. While that's not all that impressive, it is down from the 2018 season where he hauled in 64 receptions for 756 yards and three TDs. 

 

Much like Hastings, Riley is an undersized receiver at 5-8, 178 pounds, but the Patriots have seemed to like under-the-radar receivers over the years. 

J.J. Taylor - RB, Arizona

Taylor was dubbed as one of the best undrafted free agent pickups by PFF's Ben Linsey. Taylor rushed for 721 yards and five touchdowns last season while adding 32 receptions for 289 yards. 

While he is rather small at 5-6, he'll have the opportunity to learn from James White... and we all know how much the Patriots like a running back who can also be a pass-catching threat out of the backfield. 

Kyahva Tezino - LB, San Diego State

Tezino had a solid 2019 campaign with the Aztecs. The 22-year-old recorded 43 solo tackles, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and had two interceptions last season. 

The middle linebacker ended his career strongly in the 2019 New Mexico Bowl against Central Michigan. He was named the game’s defensive MVP after recording three tackles with half a sack, a pass breakup and an interception.

Courtney Wallace Jr. - DT, Louisiana Tech

Wallace Jr. had the best season of his collegiate career in 2019 with 18 solo tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble.

Jeff Thomas - WR, Miami

You can add Thomas (5-10, 170) to the list of rather undersized wide receivers the Patriots have added via free agency. The Miami product reeled in 379 yards and three TDs last season while also rushing for 41 yards. 

Thomas has had difficulty with authority throughout his football career dating to high school and was suspended a few times throughout his at Miami. If that lack of maturity continues, he won't last very long in Belichick's system. 

Brian Lewerke - QB, Michigan State

Michigan State product Brian Lewerke joins a rather crowded QB room in New England with Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and J'Mar Smith. However, he did throw for 3,079 yards and 17 TDs in 2019. But he also tossed 13 interceptions. 

Lewerke is the only player in Michigan State history to throw for 8,000-plus yards and to also rush for 1,000-plus yards, finishing with 8,293 passing and 1,255 rushing yards in his collegiate career. 

Trevon Hill - DE, Miami

Hill had a solid 2019 campaign and ended his college career with 27 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 12 games. 

Jake Burt - TE, Boston College

Burt was born and raised in Massachusetts and went to high school at St. John's Prep in Danvers, so he has a local connection to the Patriots. Burt reeled in 15 receptions for 212 yards and one TD with the Eagles last season, but was scarcely used in the first three years of his college career. 

Unless he has a spectacular training camp, it's difficult to see him beating out any of the tight ends ahead of him on the depth chart. 

Nick Coe - DE, Auburn

Another Auburn product could join Belichick's squad in 2020. Nick Coe recorded just five solo tackles in 2019 after recording 15 solo tackles and a whopping seven sacks in the 2018 campaign.