Digging For Diamonds: Which Patriots Undrafted Rookie Can Make Roster? – Sports Illustrated

Since 2004, at least one undrafted free agent has made the initial Patriots 53-man roster right at the end of preseason. This year, New England signed nine players at the conclusion of the 2022 draft in April.
Will their streak continue in 2022?
After releasing three free agents already – including high-profile Miami Hurricanes' quarterback D'Eriq King – the team entered mandatory minicamp this week with six, all of them at a different position. A detailed look at each of the six long-shot rookies and how they could factor into the Patriots plans entering Week 1.
Kody Russey, Center (Houston)
Russey is the one that is the most likely to crack the opening day roster. With David Andrews having procedural surgery over the spring, Russey could find his way as a potential backup. The former Houston Cougar also received the team’s highest guaranteed salary at $180k. We know how much Bill Belichick values depth at the offensive line and after using one of their valuable Top-30 visits with Russey, he seems like a surefire bet to make the team if he can hold his own during the preseason.
LaBryan Ray, Defensive Line (Alabama)
The pipeline from Nick Saban’s collegiate powerhouse continues with Ray, who was Christian Barmore’s roommate at college. The former five-star prospect coming out of high school could turn some heads at training camp, where holes in the defensive line could allow Ray to bust through as a depth replacement. The Patriots ranked 25th in the league in stopping the run, so adding some more bigger bodies up front can’t hurt.
DaMarcus Mitchell, Outside Linebacker (Purdue)
New England has been able to get some talent from the Boilermakers. After taking Ja’Whaun Bentley in the 2018 draft, they snagged Mitchell in the undrafted period. A twitchy player, he can factor into both the defensive line and linebacking corps in both a 4-3 and 3-4 defense. He used to play running back in junior college, so the speed is certainly there. If he puts up a good summer, a practice squad spot should be locked up and a potential roster call up.
Brenden Schooler, Safety (Texas)
Other than Russey, Schooler might be the other rookie who could slide through the cracks and wind up on the team. A prototypical Patriot, he played safety, wide receiver and special teams during his time at both Oregon and Texas. Losing three core special teamers in Brandon King, Gunner Olszewski and Brandon Bolden opens the door for Schooler to make his mark in the kicking game.
Jake Julien, Punter (Eastern Michigan)
In 2020, Jake Bailey might have been the best punter on the planet. The following year, the All-Pro took a step back. While the punting class for this draft class were superb, the Patriots decided to pass on selecting any and instead opting for Julien in free agency. The Eastern Michigan alum has a strong leg and has shown that in minicamp so far, but his outlook looks dreary if Bailey can return to his All-Pro form. He could be a possible candidate for the practice squad if he can last past waivers.
Ross Reiter, Long Snapper (Colorado State)
After spending rookie minicamp with both the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs, Reiter impressed the Patriots coaches and signed a few weeks ago. While he faces some stiff competition in Joe Cardona, it is not an impossible climb. The punting unit had three blocked punts against and a changing of the guard could be in order. Belichick does love having depth at the long snapper position, so this may be a brief stay on the roster for the 2021 Mannelly Award semifinalist, given to the country’s best long snapper. 

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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
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