BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots have been busy following the 2020 NFL Draft, signing 15 undrafted free agents, according to a various array of reports. While New England didn’t draft any quarterbacks or wide receivers this year, the team reportedly added a pair of QB and four receivers over the weekend.
But there is so much more to the list of now-hopeful Patriots. An undersized running back? Check. A local kid? Check. A dude named Bill Murray!?!?! You better believe that was checked off as well.READ MORE: CDC Says Fully Vaccinated People May Meet Without Masks Or Social Distancing
Bill Belichick has a knack for finding talented players when the draft dust settles, with at least one undrafted free agent making the team for 16 straight seasons. Here’s this year’s group of players who will be vying for a roster spot come training camp:
Lewerke was a two-time team captain with the Spartans, but had an up-and-down career under center. He’s got a big arm and can run with the ball, but his accuracy is going to have to improve if he wants to make it in the NFL.
Over his four-year career at Michigan State, Lewerke completed just 57.7 percent of his passes. He threw 47 touchdowns and ran for 10 others over his 41 career games, but also tossed 32 interceptions. His best year came as a sophomore in 2016, when he threw for 2,793 yards and 20 touchdowns to just seven interceptions, while rushing for 559 yards and five scores. Last year as a senior, he completed 59.6 percent of his passes for 3,079 yards, but just 17 touchdowns to 13 picks.
He does own some Michigan State history, the only player to throw for more than 8,000 yards (8,293) and rush for over 1,000 yards (1,255) for their career.
Thankful to have an opportunity with the @Patriots! Let’s work.
— Brian Lewerke (@brianlewerke14) April 26, 2020
Like Lewerke, Smith did damage with his arm and legs. A three-year starter for the Bulldogs, Smith threw for 51 touchdowns and rushed for 15 more over his four-year career. But he too needs to work on his accuracy, completing 59.3 percent of his passes in college.
He did improve each year in college, with Smith’s best year coming as a senior when he completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 2,977 yards and 18 touchdowns to five interceptions. He also ran for 264 yards and four touchdowns. However, he was suspended for the final two games of the season for unknown reasons.
Smith was a star baseball player in Mississippi in high school, and was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2015. He chose not to sign though, picking football over baseball. His father, Kenny Smith, was a defensive lineman in the NFL and a member of the Patriots in 2007 and 2008, but never played a game in New England.
BLESSED and THANKFUL for the opportunity!! MOTIVATED and HUMBLE! Let’s get it!!! @patriots
— JMar C. Smith (@JMarSmith8) April 26, 2020
J.J. Taylor, RB, Arizona
Taylor was the smallest player entering the 2020 NFL Draft, standing at 5-foot-5 and 185 pounds. He’ll look to join Danny Woodhead and Dion Lewis (both 5-foot-8) as undersized running backs to enjoy success in the New England offense.
Taylor stands fifth on Arizona’s all-time rushing list, finishing his career with 3,263 yards over 40 games. He had a big sophomore year in 2018, running for 1,434 yards while averaging 5.6 yards per carry and finding the end zone six times. He also caught 16 passes for 133 yards.
Taylor rushed for 18 touchdowns during his college days, and had two more receiving scores on 62 receptions. He returned 41 kickoffs with the Wildcats, finding the end zone once while averaging 24.1 yards per return.
Another undersized option for the New Engalnd offense, the 5-foot-10 Hastings has experience catching passes from Jarrett Stidham. The duo hooked up for 26 receptions, 525 yards and four touchdowns at Auburn in 2017.
Hastings missed his 2018 season after suffering an ACL tear, and had 19 receptions for 222 yards and a touchdown as a senior. He finished his college career with 56 catches for 845 yards and six touchdowns.
Sean Riley, WR, Syracuse
Another little guy (by NFL standards) at 5-foot-8, Riley had 119 receptions and four touchdowns over four years for the Orange. His best season came as a junior in 2018, catching 64 passes for 756 yards and three touchdowns.
He’s also an experienced kick returner, averaging 21.2 yards per return on 115 kickoffs and 11.3 yards on 50 punts. He returned one of those punts for a touchdown.
Jeff Thomas, WR, Miami
Thomas was a talented, but troubled, receiver for the Hurricanes. He left Miami for the NFL after his junior year with 83 catches for 1,316 yards and eight touchdowns in 34 games. He led the team with 35 catches for 563 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018, but only had 379 yards off 31 receptions and three touchdowns in 2019. He’s also a good return man, with 54 kickoff (22.6 yards per return) and 14 punt returns (18.9 yards per return, one touchdown) during his college days.
But he had more trouble off the field than success on it in Miami. He was suspended multiple times for undisclosed team rule violations, and was kicked off the team at one point in 2018. He returned in 2019, but was suspended for the final two games of the season.READ MORE: Serious Crash Reported At Everett Turnpike Toll Booth In Bedford, NH
Isaiah Zuber, WR, Mississippi State
Zuber spent his first three collegiate season at Kansas State before transferring to Mississippi State last year. He caught 127 passes for 1,321 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Wildcats, and had 14 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns last season for the Bulldogs.
Jake Burt, TE, Boston College
A local kid is joining New England’s mix at tight end. Burt is a Lynnfield native, was a star player at St. John’s prep, and played his college ball with the Eagles at Boston College. He had 23 catches for 307 yards and two touchdowns in his four seasons at Chestnut Hill, and is an excellent blocker along the offensive line.
He’s also getting a pretty nice contract from the Pats, so it would appear he’s going to be part of the team’s plans in 2020.
Boston College TE Jake Burt, an undrafted free agent, is signing with the New England Patriots and is receiving $80,000 guaranteed to do it, one of the larger guarantees for undrafted TEs, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 26, 2020
RaShod Berry, TE, Ohio State
Berry only had 17 receptions and four touchdowns with the Buckeyes, but he has experience on both sides of the ball. He originally started as a defensive end, and saw snaps on offense and defense in 2019.
Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
The 6-foot-5, 291-pound Coe had 21 tackles for a loss, nine sacks and a forced fumble over his three years for the Tigers. He was Auburn’s top pass rusher in 2018, finishing the season with a team-high seven sacks in just 11 games.
Hill spent his first three years at Virginia Tech before being kicked off the team following a sideline argument. He joined the Hurricanes for his senior year and recorded 4.5 sacks for the Hurricanes. He had 16 sacks and 29.5 tackles for a loss over his four years in the ACC.
Bill Murray, DT, William & Mary
The #Patriots are signing William & Mary DT Bill Murray, source said.
And before you make jokes and ask about his sense of humor, allow me to present his headshot. pic.twitter.com/nEqepYmmr5
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 26, 2020
Need help on the defensive line — who you gonna call? Bill Murray of William & Mary, of course.
Aside from looking like an oil baron from the late 1800s, Murray was also an All-American at the FCS school. Over his collegiate career, he had 19 sacks, 32 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and 10 blocked kicks. Ten. Blocked. Kicks.
Courtney Wallace Jr. DT, Louisiana Tech
In his 20 collegiate games at Louisiana Tech, the 6-foot-2, 305-pound Wallace recorded 54 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. He had 8.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks as a senior in 2019.
De’Jon Harris, LB, Arkansas
Arkansas’ defense wasn’t great in 2019, but Harris was a bright spot. He finished his senior season with a team-high 101 tackles, while adding 6.5 tackles for a loss, a sack, two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries.
He played in 48 games over his four years with the Razorbacks, starting 36 of them, and finished his career with 26 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and eight QB hurries.
Kyahva Tezino, LB, San Diego State
The 6-foot, 235-pound Tezino made plays for the Aztecs defense the last four years, but had standout seasons as a junior and senior. In 2018, he had 2018 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, and 8.5 sacks. As a senior he tallied 99 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and had two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He was named the team’s defensive MVP both seasons.
Myles Bryant, CB, WashingtonMORE NEWS: New 'Jeopardy!' Guest Host Katie Couric: 'Of Course I Was Nervous, Are You Kidding Me?'
The 5-foot-9, Bryant played safety for the Huskies last year, but will likely be a slot corner in the NFL. He had 68 total tackles, one pass defended, three interceptions, one sack, and one forced fumble as a senior, earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors.