by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
As rough as this past weekend must have felt for these players, becoming an undrafted free agent (UDFA) has its benefits. They can access situations and make the choice of where they want to go. Below, we review those who accepted the invitation to New England’s rookie festival.
We did something similar on PD last year. For a refresher (Antonio Appleby, anyone?), click here. To see an updated list of 2010’s hopefuls, check out NEPatriotsdraft.com, which has been the main stopping place the past couple of years to keep track of the undrafted.
So, without further ado, a brief rundown of the rookies who both got chosen and made the choice to come to Foxboro…
ROOKIE FREE AGENTS
Pat The Patriot: Lots to appreciate about North Dakota State running back Pat Paschall (6-0, 211), especially when we confront the fact that Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor and Kevin Faulk are a combined 100 years old (boy, that makes 33-to-34-year-olds seem ancient).
Why undrafted: He posted a pedestrian 40 time (4.57) and enjoyed a career at an FCS school located in a state with the population density of tundra.
Chances to stick: As of now, he’s the only rookie runner headed for Foxboro. If his highlight reel is any indication, he’s got the moves and receiving ability to garner a second look.
The Life Of Bryan: While his more-heralded Central Michigan teammate Antonio Brown got the attention of scouts, Bryan Anderson (6-5, 214) set a record with 54 consecutive games receiving a pass. Not flashy, but such consistency can get a guy noticed.
Why undrafted: Ran a 4.58 40. Also, hard to discern whether his prowess came from individual talent or a great QB (Dan LeFevour) and fellow receiver (Brown).
Chances to stick: Hmm… with the signing of Torry Holt and drafting of Taylor Price, Anderson’s chances look a little slimmer than he is.
Put It On The Underhill Tab: At 6-2, 250, Dane Fletcher seems to fit the outside linebacker mold. The former Montana State defensive end had one heck of a pro day, too, including a 4.61 40 and 29 bench press reps.
Why undrafted: I hate to admit it, but despite his 17.5 tackles for loss and FCS All-American status, I heard absolutely nothing about this guy. I have to think that’s a symptom of playing in an area with “Elk Crossing” signs.
Chances to stick: Before we get too excited after watching his highlight video (where he seems to magically appear in opponents’ backfields), we have to look at the OLB projects already ahead of him, including Jermaine Cunningham, Bruce Davis and Marques Murrell. Looking forward to seeing Fletcher excel in the fourth quarters of preseason – and I’m being sincere when I say that.
Big Love: One look at Kyle Love’s highlight reel, and you understand why the Patriots would want the tenacious defensive tackle in Foxboro.
Why undrafted: The whole “undersized” thing has a certain NFL context (for example, Mercury is an undersized planet, but it’s still the size of a freaking planet); still, at 6-1, 310 pounds, it’s hard to say whether Love will survive.
Chances to stick: With a couple of late-round D-linemen in Brandon Deaderick and Kade Weston, it’s tough to see the Mississippi State product sticking around. But maybe Love will find a way. (Oh, God, the pun-loving part of me hopes he makes the practice squad!).
Vulcan Logic: Cornerback Terrence Johnson of California (PA) led the Vulcans – yes, it’s true – with three interceptions and nine pass break-ups last year.
Why undrafted: A small school guy who’s small himself (5-9, 190) and lacking exceptional speed (4.5 40) won’t get a lot of calls on draft day.
Chances to stick: The Patriots sure seem to love those dimunitive DBs, but Johnson’s got a tough task ahead of him. His kick-return skills (23.7-yard avg.) might help.
Looking For Another Ray: Villanova safety Ross Ventrone should know a thing or two about Gillette, especially if he’s ever talked to his brother (former Patriot) Ray. His highlight video shows a quick-reacting safety who’s not afraid to hit (we think: it’s a little hard to see at times).
Why undrafted: Like his brother, Ventrone’s size (5-8, 198) and speed (4.5) give him the perfect platform to call attention to his “unmeasurables.”
Chances to stick: His brother had a nice little career in Foxboro, but it’s impossible to tell if such qualities as “heart,” “grit,” and “determination” will be enough when covering gentlemen with such qualities as “speed” and “size.” At the least we can pencil him in as an early fan favorite.
Brains, Brawn, Brown: Watching his highlight reel and checking out his pro day numbers (4.5 40, 6.67 3-cone, 35-inch vertical), Sergio Brown (6-2, 205) looks like a secret steal. Then we remember that the phrase “Notre Dame defense” has been something of an oxymoron recently.
Why undrafted: The aforementioned Lack of the Irish – plus a lack of interceptions (zero) – hurt, especially when considering that teams must have been wary of teammate Kyle McCarthy at the other safety.
Chances to stick: With the defensive backs situation around here, who the heck knows? He could provide some roster pressure to a couple of the backup safeties.
Wise Up: Also known as this year’s Stephen Neal Tryout, John Wise of Illinois is the latest wrestler to get a shot at the offensive line. Unlike Kent State’s Jermail Porter last year, though, Wise at least has a soupcon of football experience, playing defensive lineman for Western Illinois for two years before transferring.
Why undrafted: I’m guessing because of the whole wrestling-instead-of-football thing. If you’d like to see him grapple with All-American Dan Erekson of Iowa, click here, but be warned, it’s not pretty. Wrestling (the kind without makeup, pyrotechnics and/or divas) rarely is.
Chances to stick: Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has more development to deal with than a middle school guidance counselor. With rookies Ted Larsen and Thomas Welch, plus second-year guys Rich Ohrnberger and George Bussey, Wise would have to have a ton of potential to make the practice squad.
GUY I’D LIKE TO SEE IN FOXBORO
During last year’s UDFA prediction/debacle, I really put the “Who?” in “Who’s Who?” when making my free agent candidate list. This season, I’m only requesting that one undrafted rookie get a second look from the Pats.
Holy Toledo: Running back DaJuane Collins (5-10, 220) led the Rockets with 1,026 yards in 2009 (5.6 per carry). He also had 17 catches for 116 yards. The current age of the Pats running backs has been alluded to (100 years, people!); more competition at the position wouldn’t hurt.
So, what undrafted rookie should the Pats bring into camp? Give us your pick below, and thanks for making Patriots Daily a part of your 2010 NFL draft experience.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org