Which Undrafted Free Agent will make the Final Roster?

Not every rookie who makes an NFL roster this fall will have been drafted. If any team knows the value an undrafted free agent can bring to a team, it’s certainly the Patriots. It has been 13 straight seasons that at least one undrafted free agent has made the Patriots week one roster. Who will it be this year? In this article, we’ll take a look at the three undrafted free agents we think have the best chance to make the roster. This will be the final chapter in our three-part series. You can find part one here and part two here.

De’Jon “Scoota” Harris, LB, Arkansas

According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, De’Jon “Scoota” Harris received the most guaranteed money of any undrafted free agent signed by the Patriots. Harris received $140,000 in guaranteed money. There are a couple of reasons we think Harris can make the final roster. For starters, money-talks and Harris got the most. We understand money doesn’t guarantee you a spot on an NFL roster, but it does give a good indication of how much a team likes a player.

The play style Harris brings to the Patriots could also help him make the roster. Harris is a traditional hard-hitting, run-stopping linebacker. He was highly productive in his four-year college career at Arkansas. Harris offers you a linebacker with great tackling skills. He’s fearless when playing the game of football. If you want a physical football player, Harris is your guy. After losing Elandon Roberts in free agency, the Patriots could use another downhill run stopper. Although Ja’Whaun Bentley will be back this year, the Patriots tend to keep at least two run-stuffing linebackers on the roster.

Why he went undrafted?

Unlike other rookies (Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings), Harris won’t bring a lot of versatility to the roster. Harris’s best opportunity to get snaps is on 1st and 2nd downs. He struggles with the speed needed to play on obvious passing downs. The lack of athleticism will limit the opportunities for Harris to get on the field.

Jeff Thomas, WR, Miami

The most hyped undrafted free agent this year is Jeff Thomas. Interestingly enough, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN, Thomas received the least guaranteed money of any undrafted free agent. Thomas received $2,500 in guaranteed money. But as we stated before, guaranteed money doesn’t make or break your chances to make the roster. In our eyes, Thomas has a decent chance to make the final roster. Thomas passes the eye test when you watch him play. His talent and athletic ability are elite traits. He’s got the speed to beat the defense over the top. Not only is Thomas a burner, but he’s also got good hands and playmaking ability. Thomas also offers you special teams value as a punt returner. Thomas is a little undersized, standing at 5′ 9″ but we’ve seen the Patriots have success with smaller wideouts in the past.

To make the roster we think Thomas will have to beat out Damiere Byrd. Byrd offers a similar skillset to Thomas, and the Patriots seem to like him a decent amount after signing him in March.

Why he went undrafted?

Attitude concerns are the biggest reason Thomas went undrafted. In 2018, Thomas was kicked off the Miami football team. Thomas ended up being brought back to the program but was then suspended two games in the 2019 season. We don’t know the reason for either violation but there is an obvious concern there. To make the team, Thomas will need to show improvement in more ways than just on the football field. There won’t be much slack for an undrafted rookie free agent. A football-related reason for Thomas not getting drafted was his level of production in college. Last year, Thomas only had 31 catches for 379 yards and 3 touchdowns. I would argue the Miami offense didn’t take full advantage of Thomas, but it is concerning that a guy with that much talent never truly produced in college.

J.J. Taylor, RB, Arizona

Our personal favorite undrafted free agent is J.J. Taylor out of Arizona. We have joined the bandwagon. We understand the running back position is loaded, but go watch Taylor play football and tell me you aren’t excited. Taylor is a quick and shifty running back standing at 5′ 5″. His ability to dance around defenders reminds us of Dion Lewis. It’s just fun to watch Taylor play. For someone so undersized, Taylor runs with good power. Taylor also offers you some versatility out of the backfield. Pass catching is a strength that not every running back has, but Taylor has it. He finished with 32 catches for 289 yards in his final year in college. Taylor could be used as a do-it-all gadget player out of the backfield. Just like Thomas, Taylor also offers you special teams value. Taylor was a productive kick returner at Arizona.

We really like Taylor as a player but it will be hard to make the final roster. Aside from the secondary, the running back position might be the deepest on the team. Even if Rex Burkhead was a surprise cut, we still don’t know if there’s room for Taylor on the roster. The Patriots will be looking to get Damien Harris more involved in his second year. The best way for Taylor to make the roster will be through special teams. If the Patriots can’t fit him on the roster, and they don’t think he could sneak onto the practice squad, we could see a Foxborough Flu situation.

Why he went undrafted?

Taylor is a 5′ 5″ running back. There are concerns about how his body holds up in the NFL. Being this undersized is seen as a limitation in the NFL. Another concern is that while Taylor is quick, he didn’t test as well as you might think in the 40-yard dash. Taylor ran a 4.61 at the combine. When comparing Taylor to someone like Darren Sproles, who stood at 5′ 6″ and had a very successful career, Sproles was one of the fastest guys in the league. Size and speed are the main reasons Taylor went undrafted.

Other Possibilities:

Nick Coe, DL, Auburn: The Patriots could use more depth on the defensive line. Coe underachieved in college but has talent.

Isaiah Zuber, WR, Mississippi State: Fast player, but lacked production in his final year of college. Another guy who has punt return ability.

Bill Murray, DT, William & Mary: Murray is a good run stopper. The Patriots gave him the second-most guaranteed money of any undrafted free agent. Murray didn’t face elite competition in college.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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8 thoughts on “Which Undrafted Free Agent will make the Final Roster?

  • May 25, 2020 at 3:33 pm
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    You’ve hit everything on the nose once again. My moneys on Harris

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    • May 25, 2020 at 4:14 pm
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      Thank you for the support! Yes, I agree Harris has the best shot. I also really like Thomas if he can stay out of trouble.

      Reply
  • May 26, 2020 at 6:56 pm
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    I like Bill Murray’s chances of making the team. He has a knack for blocking kicks and played under the same defensive scheme in college. Myles Bryant (not mentioned above) is another one to keep an eye on.

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    • May 26, 2020 at 7:05 pm
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      I agree and the Patriots could use another guy on the interior d-line. Also I like Bryant, but man the secondary is so stacked I don’t see him making the roster. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  • May 27, 2020 at 1:14 am
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    Harris & Murray a lock if stay healthy. Rest questionable. My guess is one other may get buried on practice squad. As far as who, depends on position need.

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    • May 27, 2020 at 3:32 am
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      Ya, Murray,and Harris both play at positions the Patriots could look for depth at. I like Thomas if he stays out of trouble.

      Reply
  • May 27, 2020 at 10:52 am
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    What about Will Hastings, Jarrett Stidham’s slot receiver in college?!?

    Reply
    • May 27, 2020 at 3:34 pm
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      The added chemistry with Stidham will definitely help, but I like Thomas and Zuber more.

      Reply

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