Patriots Undrafted Free Agents Review

By Chris Warner

New England entered the draft needing defensive help and went after it, snatching pass-rushers (Chandler Jones, Dont’a  Hightower and Jake Bequette, oh my!) plus defensive backs (Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner, Alfonzo Dennard) before snagging a receiver (Jeremy Ebert) in Round Seven.

That late focus on offense continued post-draft, as the Patriots invited two offensive linemen and a tight end to Foxboro, along with a defensive tackle. A quick review…

Marcus Forston, Miami defensive tackle (6-1, 301). Some solid value on so-called Day Four of the draft, as Forston made plays throughout his short career for the Hurricanes.

Why undrafted: Forston suffered a knee injury after playing only three games last year – his junior season – then decided to come out early (a decision he may have regretted by Saturday night).

Why Foxboro: Coach Bill Belichick loves Miami almost as much as sunshine does. Forston looks like a project, but with decent speed (a 5.17-second 40-yard dash), notable strength (35 bench press reps), and strong production (12 tackles for loss as a sophomore), he’s a project worth the time.

Brad Herman, Iowa tight end (6-4, 253). The annual undrafted Iowa pipeline flows again this year. Herman joins a talented tight end crew in New England.

Why undrafted: Beyond a 36-inch vertical leap, Herman failed to stick out at his pro day (4.81-second 40, 14 bench reps). He needed to display serious athleticism to catch the eyes of scouts after a career that boasted fewer Saturday receptions than an Orthodox household (18 catches in four years).

Why Foxboro: The aforementioned Iowa thing. We can only assume Herman received a thumbs-up from Belichick buddy/Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. Plus, he can take reps for Rob Gronkowski during his recovery from off-season surgery.

Jermiah Warren, South Florida offensive guard (6-3, 324). One of the many surprises of New England’s draft was the exclusion of offensive linemen. Belichick addressed the issue on Day Four, adding interior help with Warren. Also, along with Herman, Warren’s a member of the First Names Last Club.

Why undrafted: Well, he ain’t exactly Mercury. Scouts could have timed Warren’s 40-yard dash and his 3-cone drill by planting a tree, chopping it down and counting the rings (actually 5.41 and 7.85 seconds, respectively, but still).

Why Foxboro: The coach looked in on South Florida’s pro day; we figured he’d have some of those players in mind come Saturday night. Warren’s strength (28 bench reps) helped him make Second Team All-Big East for the Bulls, who led the conference in rushing. He also possesses versatility, playing both tackle and guard in his career.

Markus Zusevics, Iowa offensive tackle (6-5, 303). With another Iowa guy in the fold, Coach Belichick proves he has a deeper Hawkeye connection than B. J. Honeycutt. (Uh-oh – did I just lose the room? “MASH” reruns are still on TV, right?). We love this pick-up, and not just because we mentioned Zusevics as a potential UDFA in our offensive linemen column.

Why undrafted: The Big Z (Note: probably not his nickname) tore his pectoral muscle while bench pressing for scouts at the NFL combine, keeping him out of drills. Talk about bad timing. The injury may prevent him from playing in 2012.

Why Foxboro: As an All-Big 10 Honorable Mention, Zusevics represents great value and high potential return on a future investment. Again, we assume Ferentz filed a positive report.

Comments? Pats rookie free agent acquisitions of note (keep checking NEPatriotsdraft.com for updates)? Favorite cold symptom remedy? Give us your feedback below.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

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