Forethoughts On Four Games: Third Quarter 2013

Bruce is out today. Check for all the coverage of the Red Sox 3-1 win in game five of the World Series last night. The Sox  now have a chance to close out the Series tomorrow night at Fenway Park. 

Well, the past month sure has had its interesting moments.

After a punch-in-the-head experience at Cincinnati resulting in their first loss, the Pats rebounded with a full 60-minute effort vs. New Orleans, scoring the winning touchdown with only five seconds on the clock. A painful, car-crash-in-slow-motion overtime loss at New York brought the Jets within one game in the standings. After spotting Miami a 17-3 lead at home, the Patriots rode a second-half resurgence to go 2-2 this month and 6-2 on the year, good enough for a two-game lead within the division after the Jets’ loss to the Bengals.

Despite the .750 record, fans have cited many reasons for trepidation. One, injuries: New England currently has as many Hurts as a 1980s film festival. With Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo on season-ending IR, the Patriots’ front seven has looked more like a front 5.5. Two, offense: or lack of it. Quarterback Tom Brady has worked hard just to look mediocre in the first half of this season. [Read more...]

Looking Back To Fill The Patriots Roster

It’s hard to tell how well this particular New England team will perform this season. Is the defense good enough? Will the offense improve all that much?

Maybe. But we know for sure that the roster the Patriots had in September will change with the frequency of the cast of “Breaking Bad.” It’s a tough business; people get hurt.

(Yup. Just compared professional football to meth dealing. Hello, Pulitzer!)

New England’s championship teams have a few things in common, one of them being the ability of lesser-known players to step up when needed. Guys like Patrick Pass, Larry Centers and J. R. Redmond don’t enter fans’ minds every day, but each contributed to championships. With recent knee issues plaguing Stevan Ridley, long-term pains for Shane Vereen, and various injuries to Leon Washington, the Patriots might keep an eye out for some running back help.

We were thinking about these guys.

Maybe Not Great Scott, But Decent Scott: Third-year Maryland alum Da’Rel Scott was released by the Giants last week after a rough performance at Kansas City with a muffed handoff and a dropped pass. (New York just re-signed him in the wake of injuries to their RB corps, but the Pats should keep an eye on his status) In 2011, he had an impressive combine, running a 4.31-second 40-yard dash and benching 225 pounds 19 times. Thus far this season he is averaging 3.5 yards per carry (16 for 56) in a non-starting role. The 5-11, 210-pounder could add depth to a depleted ball-carrier corps (hey, he already is).

High School Fun Fact: Scott lettered in football, basketball and track at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High in Pennsylvania. As a junior, he won the state title in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.56 seconds.

A Ray Of Hope: During this spring’s pro day at Pittsburgh, the Patriots were reportedly one of the teams to send a scout to see Ray Graham in action. The mighty mite (5-9, 199) had a slow 40 (4.7 seconds) and only a decent 3-cone drill (7.03 seconds), but he seems to play faster than those times. Graham made First Team All-Big East his last two years at Pitt, rushing for 1,042 yards and 11 TDs as a senior. Currently on the Texans’ practice squad, Graham had seven rushes for 29 yards and one touchdown in the preseason.

High School Fun Fact: At Elizabeth High in New Jersey, Graham rushed for 1,592 yards, averaging nine per carry as a senior. Eight of his 24 touchdowns came on plays of 60 yards or more. Also named an All-County point guard.

A Winn In Oakland? Summertime Patriot George Winn – now on the Oakland practice squad – averaged 3.9 yards per carry vs. the Giants in New England’s final preseason game (14 carries for 54 yards) and scored one touchdown. He registers as a bigger back (5-11, 218) from a Cincinnati program that has some credibility given the success of undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins. Winn rushed for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Bearcats in 2012.

High School Fun Fact: Winn averaged almost eight yards per carry and rushed for over 3,000 yards in his career at University of Detroit Jesuit High.

Hey Mr. D. J.: If New England’s looking for a smaller, pass-catching back, Arkansas alum Dennis Jonnson has a Danny Woodhead-ish look to him at 5-7, 195 pounds. He did a little of everything for the Razorbacks, totaling 5,330 yards rushing (2,036), receiving (510), and returning kicks (2,784). This summer, he had 28 carries for 98 yards and four catches for 25 yards for the Texans. The Browns picked him up but waived him by early September.

High School Fun Fact: At Arkansas High in Texarkana, Johnson rushed for 1,529 yards and 20 TDs and scored four times on punt returns his senior year.

“Hard” Plus “Travesty” Equals “Hardesty”: Former Browns second-rounder (and now just former Brown) Montario Hardesty (6-0, 225) has constantly dealt with knee issues and was waived by Cleveland last month after getting placed on injured reserve in August following arthroscopic surgery. Hardesty played in only 23 games in three seasons and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry.

Hey, we’re not being picky, here. We’re just looking for someone who can take on a few carries and spell the horses in the stable.

High School Fun Fact: In his senior season at New Bern High in North Carolina, Hardesty rushed for 2,002 yards. Also ran a 10.36-second 100-meter dash for the track team.

Where There’s A Williams, There’s A Waive: For a speedier option, the Pats could check out rookie Kerwynn Williams, a seventh-round pick from Utah State who has been off and on the Colts practice squad since early September. Williams fits the prototypical third-down back profile, measuring 5-8, 195 and exhibiting a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine this past spring. At Utah State, he totaled 1,583 yards rushing (6.9 yards per carry) for 15 touchdowns and 697 yards receiving (48 catches, 15.2 yards per) for five scores.

High School Fun Fact: Williams played receiver and running back as a junior at Valley High in Las Vegas before switching to quarterback his senior year. At QB, he averaged 10.7 yards per run (182 per game), totaling 2,002 yards and 31 TDs on the year. He also threw for 707 yards and added 700 total return yards for good measure.

Seawolf. Seawolf Run. Run, Seawolf, Run: Rookie Miguel Maysonet (5-9, 209) did a little bit of everything for Stony Brook, rushing for 1,964 yards and 21 touchdowns and averaging almost 26 yards per kickoff return. Maysonet became a Seawolf after transferring from Hofstra, which disbanded its football program. He has spent time in Philly, Indy and Cleveland. The Eagles picked him up as an undrafted free agent in April; the Chargers just signed him to their practice squad.

High School Fun Fact: In his career at Riverhead High in New York, Maysonet totaled 5,963 rushing yards and 74 TDs. So, that’s pretty good.

All We Are Saying, Is Give Pease A Chance: Rookie Angelo Pease out of Kansas State (5-10, 211) possesses decent speed (4.50 40), quickness (7.08-second 3-cone drill) and strength (25 strength lifts). At KSU, Pease averaged 5.6 yards per carry and 4.6 yards per reception in a limited role, yet still had the third-most yards rushing with 333.

High School Fun Fact: As a senior at Cairo High in Georgia (Go Syrupmakers!), Pease was named the Atlanta Journal-Constitution All-State Offensive Player of the Year in 2008, running for 882 yards and passing for 19 TDs.

Surely, Temple: After getting dismissed from Boston College due to unspecified team issues, running back Montel Harris concluded his career at Temple, where the 5-8, 208-pound bulldog rushed for 1,054 yards and 12 touchdowns. Though not a speedster (4.56 40), Harris does seem to have the requisite quickness required of a smaller back (6.84 3-cone). He had brief stints with the Eagles, Buccaneers and even the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the CFL, but has yet to find a professional home.

Choo, choo! Redemption train, coming through!

High School Fun Fact: In Jacksonville, Florida, Harris led the Trinity Christian High Conquerors (let’s not mince words, there) in rushing, receiving and scoring for three straight years.

Any backs you think might add depth to New England’s roster, let us know below.

Chris Warner enjoys watching NFL games on DVR 30 minutes after they start so he can zip through the commercials and catch up by the fourth quarter. You can email him at [email protected] or tweet @cwarn89

Forethoughts On Four Games: Second Quarter 2013

Well, Patriots fans, while you were watching the “Breaking Bad” finale – and by “you” I mean “we” and by “we” I mean “I” – your New England neophytes made their way to 4-0 by securing a win at Atlanta that ended up only slightly less nerve-wracking than a visit to a myopic acupuncturist.

A comeback win at Buffalo, a monkfish-ugly standoff vs. the New York Jets and a heartening tilt over Tampa have made for an interesting journey. Despite myriad injuries and adjustments, there they sit atop the AFC East.

These upcoming four games may end up as the toughest haul for New England, with an away game at Cincinnati (Oct 6), a homer with the Saints (Oct. 13), travel to the Jets (Oct. 20) and hosting the Dolphins (Oct. 27). All Sunday games, by the way, all at 1 p.m. except the 4:25 p.m. Saints contest.

If you want predictions, consult your local meteorologist. (We might as well throw a dart and repeat our previous guess at 3-1.) [Read more...]

Receivers Who Could Fit In Foxboro

Over the past couple of weeks (in our shadow roster piece and quarterly report) we’ve discussed various wide receivers who might provide some depth to the position while Danny Amendola gets brought back slowly from his groin injury.

Or, as they would say on TV, “gets brought back slowly from his groin.” Still annoyed that the word “injury” has become superfluous.

To put it nicely, rookies Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce still need work. The Pats brought in Austin Collie last Thursday. More on that below.

Anyway, here’s a look at some potential Patriots pass-catchers. We’re also including our world-famous (not really) High School Fun Facts!

Borderline Collie: We liked Collie out of BYU in 2009. He’s got decent size (6-1, 200) and what he lacks in speed (4.56-second 40-yard dash) he makes up for in quickness (6.78-second 3-cone drill). Still, after sitting this past Sunday, the question remains: can he play? Not just for the Patriots: for anybody. He had at least three concussions from 2010 to 2011 and – after 172 receptions in three seasons – stepped away from football in 2012. Certainly something that will have to be monitored.

High School Fun Fact: The Sacramento Bee named Oak Ridge High’s Collie Northern California’s Most Valuable Player. Had 1,654 all-purpose yards and 24 TDs as a senior along with 53 tackles and two interceptions.

[Read more...]

Patriots Shadow Roster (We Think)

The term “shadow roster” sounds ominous, but it just refers to New England managing the back end of their active 53 players. Every team has a call list of available free agents, it just seems like Coach Bill Belichick and Co. get on the horn with more frequency than other teams do.

Due to injuries and some depth issues at certain positions, over the past week the Patriots have been active with tryouts and personnel moves between the active roster and practice squad. With some of those transactions and players in mind, we’ve compiled a list of potential Pats who may see the revolving door in Gillette this season (as well as a few who already have).

We decided to focus on younger athletes, only because most fans are familiar with the likes of veteran Leon Washington and a certain third-string QB. In other words: move along, folks, nothing to Tebow. [Read more...]

Forethoughts On Four Games: First Quarter 2013

After a preseason that featured a contrast between early positive signs and a harrowing experience in Detroit (maybe not the first time that phrase has surfaced), New England starts the 2013 season with an intriguing mix of concern and potential.

No matter what happens this year, we don’t expect boredom.

The Patriots travel to Buffalo to take on the Jeff Tuell- and/or E. J. Manuel-led Bills on September 8 and host AFC East foes the Jets on Sunday, September 12. (We can talk about the useless, kill-the-golden-egg-laying-goose aspect of Thursday night games in some future column.)

Tampa Bay returns to Foxboro Sunday, September 22, followed by a trip to Hotlanta to take on the Falcons for the evening of September 29.

One loss during this stretch seems understandable. A special teams slip-up against an energized Bills squad; defensive backfield issues under the dome at the Falcons. Still, anything less than 3-1 looks like a disappointment.

[Read more...]

Forethoughts On Four Games

This season on BSMW, we’ll provide some thoughts going into each quarter of New England’s 2013 campaign. We begin with one of our favorite months of the year, August, due to the preseason.

No pressure. Low stress. Solid entertainment.

The Patriots play at Philadelphia August 9, host Tampa Bay August 16, travel to what’s left of Detroit August 22, and wrap up at home vs. the Giants August 29.

They might win. They’ll probably lose a few. That doesn’t really matter.

Here’s what we think does matter…

[Read more...]

Searching For The Next Mosi Tatupu

It’s been a busy summer for the New England Patriots, for many of the wrong reasons. Now that training camp lies just around the corner (yes, please), we figured we’d get away from all that nasty business and start compiling a list of potential fan favorites for 2013.

Whether or not you were a card-carrying member of Mosi’s Mooses, you probably know something about the late, great Mosi Tatupu, a long-time running back/special teamer who carved out a spot with the team and with fans’ hearts from 1978 to 1990.

Was former Patriot Danny Woodhead a Tatupu? We think so – Woodhead gave us a chance to literally root for the little guy. Those two shared some of the requirements we’ll look for in each subject, including: [Read more...]

Top Ten Potential Replacements For What’s-His-Face

The Patriots must seek another pass-catcher after a certain Tight End Who Shan’t Be Named got released due to alleged “troubles.”

Troubles. Suddenly we’re speaking about Foxboro the same way we described Belfast in 1982.

In any case, our look at the ten players best suited to pick up the suddenly significant slack at tight end/H-back. [Read more...]

Who’s The FA? UDFA!

New England has made an annual habit of holding on to at least one undrafted free agent (UDFA) who had to wait out seven rounds of the draft before booking a plane ticket. Below, we review some of the guys reportedly signed by the Pats who might want to check out properties in the Foxboro area.

Plus, at my reader’s request (note the singular), a return of high school fun facts!

The Zach Pack: Nevada’s Zach Sudfeld (6-7, 253) offers another big target at tight end for Patriots camp, potentially giving Rob Gronkowski some rest.

Why undrafted: Sudfeld had only 11 bench reps at his pro day, a low output for a tight end. He was also injured plenty at Nevada, missing both the 2008 and 2011 seasons. The NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility.

Why invited: He showed decent speed (4.84 40) and good quickness (7.00-second 3-cone) at his pro day. Was third on the Wolf Pack in receptions with 45, averaging 13.3 yards per catch, and led the team in TD grabs with eight.

High School Fun Fact: Sudfeld lettered in football, track and field, basketball and tennis at Modesto Christian High in California.

Run As Fast As You, Ken: Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (6-1, 193) out of Cincinnati will get a once-over this spring as New England continues to revamp their pass-catching corps.

Why undrafted: While Thompkins had some production for the Bearcats, his stats won’t wow many – 34 catches, 541 yards, two touchdowns. Also had a mere eight reps on the bench at the combine.

Why invited: Some quick math on the above stats (or, for us English majors, a quick glimpse at his player page) shows he averaged 15.9 yards per reception. Thompkins also ran a 4.46-second 40 and had a 6.88-second 3-cone drill, solid numbers, both. Also had a decent game vs. Rutgers, and heaven knows, all roads to Foxboro go through Rutgers.

High School (and College) Fun Fact: While attending Miami Northwestern in Florida, Thompkins fell in with a bad crowd and got arrested a few times. He didn’t consider playing football again until, inspired by his younger brother Kendal going to the Miami Hurricanes, he went to El Camino Community College for two years and became a co-captain on the gridiron.

Original Cincy: Running back Quentin Hines (5-10, 194) out of Akron (and other places – see below), offers depth as a smaller back and return option for the Patriots.

Why undrafted: Hines has had a – shall we say – interesting go of it, attending Cincinnati (three years), Murray State (spring semester) and Akron (one year). Did little for the Zips, averaging fewer than three carries per game.

Why invited: Averaged over 5.5 yards per carry. Plus, wowed at his pro day, running a 4.40-second 40, leaping a whopping 42.5-inch vertical and an eye-opening 11.5-foot broad jump. Seriously – take a 10-foot hoop, lay it down on the ground, and jump 18 inches beyond it. Ridiculous.

High School Fun Fact: Hines rushed for 1,491 yards and 21 TDs as a senior at Mt. Clemens High in Detroit. He also ran the 100-meter dash in 10.6 seconds.

For Those About To Walk, We Saluki: Well, apparently the rumors of Southern Illinois longsnapper Jason Stegman coming to Foxboro turned out to be false. Such a shame: we really liked that reference.

Morris The Cat: Nittany Lion cornerback Stephon Morris (5-8, 188) will compete for a special teams slot while hoping to add depth to the Patriots’ defensive back group.

Why undrafted: Height-wise, Morris leaves a bit to be desired. He also tallied zero interceptions last year.

Why invited: Myriad reasons. First, he had five pass breakups, five passes defensed, and 1.5 sacks. Second, he ran a 4.35-second 40 at his pro day. Third, with former Pats offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien now at Penn State, the locals must have gotten a solid heads-up.

High School Fun Fact: Morris was a three-year football captain at Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt, Maryland, where he played corner, running back and kick returner.

Look, Kids: Big Ben! Tennessee fullback Ben Bartholomew (6-2, 245) could become the prototypical run-blocker that New England has lacked since Fred McCrary in 2002.

Why undrafted: It seems that coaches always believe they can fill the fullback spot with players from other positions, from tight ends to offensive linemen to linebackers. Also, Bartholomew had exactly two carries his entire college career.

Why invited: Maybe the above sentence isn’t such a bad thing, as it means the man’s a devoted blocker. Bartholomew did catch 11 passes for 102 yards last year and filled in at tight end. His 4.75-second 40 is noteworthy considering his size, and his 30 bench reps mean he can take on NFL linebackers.

High School Fun Fact: At Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Bartholomew won the state shot put championship (51 feet, two inches) and the state wrestling championship (215-pound division) in 2007.

Jonesing For One More Knight: Cornerback Brandon Jones (6-0, 191) out of – big surprise – Rutgers, joins about sixty thousand other Scarlet Knights in Patriots camp.

Why undrafted: Jones probably got overlooked playing alongside Logan Ryan and some other more notable defenders, most of whom live in Foxboro now. He also had some injury issues in school. Posted a mediocre 40 time (4.56 seconds).

Why invited: The big reason begins with an “R” and ends with an “-utgers.” But Jones did start for two years on a strong defense and had five interceptions and nine pass break-ups in 2012. Also showed some quickness in his pro day drills (4.08 20-yard shuttle, 6.76 3-cone drill). Strong special-teamer.

High School Fun Fact: At Winslow Township High in New Jersey, Jones played both sides of the ball his senior year, picking off eight passes and returning two for touchdowns while notching 47 receptions for 997 yards. Also averaged almost 17 yards per punt return.

A Sandwich Is A Sandwich, But A Stankiewitch Is The Deal: Center Matt Stankiewitch (6-3, 302) out of Penn State could add some insurance to the interior line, a needy part of the Patriots’ roster.

Why undrafted: Scouts viewed this as a meh year for centers. Not a huge guy (relatively speaking). Displayed little speed at his pro day, running a 5.42-second 40.

Why invited: Oh, where to begin? Stankewitch led Penn State’s offense, which – again, due to the Coach O’Brien connection – had a lot of similarities to what he’ll see in Foxboro. Had 27 bench reps at the combine, a respectable O-line number. Was named All-Big Ten First Team by conference coaches. Started at center for the past two years and played guard as a sophomore.

High School Fun Fact: Playing center and D-line for Blue Mountain High in Pennsylvania, Stankiewitch was named the Berks Inter-County League Offensive Lineman of the Year and the Reading Eagle All-Anthracite Defensive Player of the Year.

In The Midnight Hour, We Cried Moe, Moe, Moe: Missouri wide receiver T. J. Moe (5-11, 204) will fill out an ever-growing field of pass-catchers for the Patriots, likely in a flanker role.

Why undrafted: At the combine, Moe ran a 4.74-second 40. Though he bettered that at his pro day (4.62), he may have fallen off some lists. Had only 40 receptions for 399 yards in 2012. Also, judging by this past offseason, flanker doesn’t seem like a coveted slot in the NFL. (Literally.)

Why invited: The guy’s got quicks, with a 3.96-second 20-yard shuttle and a 6.53-second 3-cone drill (for comparison, Julian Edelman had 3.92 and 6.62, respectively). Let’s wrap up this part with scout Gil Brandt’s quote from Missouri’s pro day: “Moe has very good hands and reminds you a lot of Wes Welker.”

High School Fun Fact: Moe played QB at Fort Zumwalt West High in Missouri, where his senior year he passed for – if you have a hat, hold onto it – 2,557 yards and 31 touchdowns and ran for – seriously, hold on – 2,029 yards and 30 touchdowns.

A Serious Load Of Bull: Defensive tackle Cory Grissom (6-1, 306) out of South Florida could help inject some youth into an aging interior defensive line.

Why undrafted: At 6-1, Grissom’s a bit undersized (a funny word to use for a 300-pounder, but still). Though he did well for the Bulls, the Big East football conference doesn’t receive much national attention. None of his combine numbers stand out.

Why invited: Coach Belichick loves him some South Florida football. Grissom made the All-Big East Second Team, and he excelled against solid competition (including two sacks vs. Florida State).

High School Fun Fact: Grissom lettered in football for three years and wrestling for two years at Troup County High in LaGrange, Georgia.

Elvis Was A Hero To Most, But He Never Meant It To Me: Ah, had to go with a little Public Enemy there. Here’s hoping Missouri offensive tackle Elvis Fisher (6-5, 296) gets to mean something to Foxboro fans.

Why undrafted: Fisher hurt his knee last September and missed several games. That setback came after having been granted a hardship year due to a season-ending knee injury in 2011.

Why invited: Started all 40 games at left tackle over his first three years. Ran a respectable 5.13-second 40 at his pro day. Served as team captain for the Tigers over the past two seasons. A little underweight, but could be a rewarding project.

High School Fun Fact: While at St. Petersburg Catholic High in Florida, Fisher was ranked number 53 on the Super Prep list of the U.S.’s top offensive tackles.

His Game Is Afoot: Punter Ryan Allen (6-2, 215) of Louisiana Tech will compete with Patriot Zoltan Mesko throughout the preseason. Allen gives coaches and players a different look at a special teams position.

Why undrafted: He’s a punter. No offense. (Get it?)

Why invited: Allen won the Ray Guy Award as the best college punter in the nation the past two years in a row. If you’ve ever heard Coach Belichick talk about Ray Guy, you understand his interest. Averaged 48.4 yards per punt and notched an 85-yarder at New Mexico State, the longest anywhere in 2012.

High School (and College) Fun Fact: Allen only played two years of football but lettered twice as a kicker and punter at West Salem High in Oregon. He redshirted at Oregon State in 2008 but left there after riding the pine as a backup in 2009.

As Tough As Ford Knocks: Clemson tight end Brandon Ford (6-3, 245) looks like a smaller hybrid type who could demonstrate some versatility in New England’s offense.

Why undrafted: A combine snub, Ford failed to wow at his pro day, running a 4.74-second 40 and benching 225 pounds 17 times. Size-wise, he looks like a ’tweener, though he did gain 10 pounds after the season.

Why invited: An All-ACC First Team pick by both coaches and media, Ford had eight touchdown receptions in 2012 and caught 40 passes for 480 yards. Also excelled against tough competition, catching five passes for 51 yards against Auburn and four for 69 at Florida State.

High School Fun Fact: Besides playing football at Hanahan High in South Carolina, Ford was MVP of the basketball team and also ran the 100- and 200-meter events for the track squad.

Just In The Time Of Nick: Michigan State offensive guard Chris McDonald (6-4, 300) joins brother (and current Patriot lineman) Nick in Foxboro. After the position got overlooked during the draft, New England has bolstered it in rookie free agency.

Why undrafted: Similar to Stankiewitch’s situation, this draft never had a big run on interior linemen as teams seemed less than overwhelmed by available centers and guards.

Why invited: First and foremost, we have to assume that the Pats like what they’ve seen in his brother. For his part, the younger McDonald started his last 30 games in a row at right guard and earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. He also had a noteworthy pro day, running his first 40 in under five seconds and benching 225 pounds 31 times.

High School Fun Fact: McDonald played both offensive and defensive line at Henry Ford II High in Sterling Heights, Michigan. His 22 career sacks broke the school record.

Offensively In Kline: Kent State offensive guard Josh Kline (6-3, 307) jumps on the rookie free agent O-line bandwagon. Coach Dante Scarnecchia is driving, so behave yourselves.

Why undrafted: Julian Edelman notwithstanding, Kent State has never been a hotbed of NFL draft activity. Add to that the aforementioned note of interior lineman getting picked later, and Kline’s quiet Saturday afternoon makes sense.

Why invited: Named to the All-MAC Second Team, Kline helped the Golden Flashes (definitely a Top Ten mascot) become the nation’s 11th-ranked rushing offense. He also garnered attention at his pro day, running the 40 in 5.06 seconds, the 20-yard shuttle in 4.59 seconds, and putting up 225 pounds 25 times. Also showed position flexibility by playing right tackle his junior year.

High School Fun Fact: Besides excelling in football at Mason High in Ohio, Kline also posted a 45-1 record wrestling his senior year, winning the state title.

The Place That Launched A Thousand Hits: Troy has had a number of solid defenders enter the league; safety Kanorris Davis (5-9, 211) hopes to add his name to that list.

Why undrafted: Davis played the season as a linebacker and looks to make the transition to safety. His lack of both size and top-line speed (4.57 40) have set him back.

Why invited: If the dude played linebacker at 5-9, you know he’s tough. Showed some athleticism with a 37.5-inch vertical and a 7.07-second 3-cone drill. Made the All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team with 62 solo tackles on the season. Had an impact on special teams.

High School Fun Fact: For his career at Perry High in Georgia, Davis tallied 398 tackles, 24 sacks and eight forced fumbles. He was a two-time all-state selection.

Here Comes Dewayne Again: At 6-2, 345 pounds, defensive lineman/condominium Dwayne Cherrington of Mississippi State seems memorable. New England has gone with smaller, speedier D-linemen of late; Cherrington could add some bulk to the inside.

Why undrafted: Teams seeking faster defenses these days have less of a demand for Cherrington’s services. He ran a very slow 40 at 5.57 seconds. Failed to open eyes on the stats page with just 24 tackles last year for the Bulldogs.

Why invited: The Patriots drafted Vince Wilfork in 2004. Time to inject some youth into the position and see if Cherrington can hold down the middle. His 36 bench reps show he might prove up for the challenge.

High School (and College) Fun Fact: Cherrington attended Central Gwinnett High in Georgia and played both sides of the ball at Holmes Community College in Mississippi.

A Cup Of Joe With The Patriots? Maryland defensive lineman Joe Vellano (6-1, 306) hopes to stick around Gillette a while. He adds another penetrating interior presence to New England’s 4-3 defense.

Why undrafted: Vellano lacks what scouts call length, which I believe is a fancy way of saying he’s not all that tall. Doesn’t have a ton of straight-line speed: ran a 5.35-second 40. Was listed at 285 pounds in his college program.

Why invited: The stout pass-rusher was named to the All-ACC First Team by both coaches and the media. He compiled 61 tackles, including 14 for loss (six sacks). At his pro day he demonstrated some quickness for his size (4.47-second 20-yard shuttle, 7.58-second 3-cone). Also had 27 bench reps.

High School (and College)Fun Fact: Vellano captained his team at Christian Brothers Academy in Albany, NY. After being named an All-American his junior year in college, Vellano and his father Paul (Maryland class of 1974) became the first father-son duo to each receive such an honor in ACC school history.

Which of New England’s UDFAs will you be rooting for this summer? Comment below.

You can email Chris Warner at [email protected] or tweet @cwarn89