As if their bevy of offseason additions weren’t enough, it seems the New England Patriots found a few steals in and after the 2017 NFL Draft.
Five of nine Patriots training camp standouts are rookies, and four of those were undrafted free agents. See who has shined a week and a half into camp.
WR DEVIN LUCIEN
Lucien has come on strong of late and surpassed the entire second tier of Patriots wide receivers — Austin Carr, Cody Hollister, K.J. Maye and Tony Washington — to become the favorite to earn a 53-man roster spot if one of the top six players — Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Matthew Slater — suffers a serious injury.
Amendola, Edelman, Hogan, Mitchell and Slater currently are banged up, giving Lucien more of a chance to shine.
Lucien caught two touchdowns in Friday’s scrimmage then made another impressive deep grab in Saturday’s practice.
G JOE THUNEY
Thuney has been the star of 1-on-1 pass-rushing drills, stone-walling anyone who lines up across from him. We’ll see if that continues in joint practices with the Jacksonville Jaguars this week.
Thuney was, at times, the weak link in a strong Patriots offensive line as a rookie last season, though he did still play well for a first-year player. He appears to be living up to his upside so far this offseason.
DE DEATRICH WISE
Wise looks like a create-a-player in Madden. He’s 6-foot-5, 271 pounds and wears enough wraps, braces and gloves that it looks like you went a little overboard in the accessories section.
It’s clear the Patriots coaches are big fans of Wise, since he’s been playing with the first-team defense for the last week of camp. He has the size to play inside or outside on the Patriots’ defensive line and could take over Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard or Chris Long’s role from last season.
He had a huge scrimmage with two sacks, a forced fumble and pass breakup.
DT ADAM BUTLER
It’s also clear the Patriots are fans of this rookie. Butler, an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt, has been playing on the first-team sub defense. It seems the Patriots view Butler in the same mold as Anthony Johnson from 2016 or Dominique Easley before him.
LB HARVEY LANGI
Langi is yet another rookie, and another UDFA, receiving first-team snaps on defense. Will that stick when Dont’a Hightower returns off of the physically unable to perform list? Maybe not, but Langi even getting second-team snaps would be an accomplishment for an undrafted rookie.
CB CYRUS JONES
CB JONATHAN JONES
CB D.J. KILLINGS
CB KENNY MOORE
CB ERIC ROWE
This is a bit of a cop-out, but all five of these players competing for No. 3, 4 and 5 cornerback roles have had impressive moments in camp.
Cyrus isn’t dropping punts and covered well in the Patriots’ instra-squad scrimmage, while Jon Jones, Killings, Moore and Rowe have gotten their hands on a lot of passes.
Killings and Moore are both undrafted rookies. Bill Belichick should just stop drafting cornerbacks altogether and start stocking his cornerback depth chart with these UDFAs. He has a tremendous history of success.
Thumbnail photo via Doug Kyed
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