Patriots Undrafted Free Agent Profiles: D.J. Foster Headlines Offensive Rookies

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The New England Patriots shockingly came out of the 2016 NFL Draft without a running back.

The Patriots went into the draft with 11 picks, came out with nine players and didn’t address what was thought to be their biggest need. The Patriots did sign a rookie running back after the draft, though he might not play the position in the pros.

Check out the Patriots’ offensive undrafted free-agent signings.

RB D.J. FOSTER, ARIZONA STATE

Foster, who’s 6 feet, 195 pounds, officially is listed as a running back on the Patriots’ roster, but he primarily played wide receiver as a senior with the Sun Devils.

Foster played running back in his first three seasons before moving to receiver because of a surplus in the backfield and a dearth at wideout. He caught 59 passes for 584 yards with three touchdowns as a senior and added 55 carries for 280 yards with one rushing touchdown. His most productive college season came in 2014, when he had 194 carries for 1,081 yards with nine touchdowns and 62 receptions for 688 yards with three touchdowns.

Foster had 444 career carries for 2,355 yards with 18 touchdowns and 222 catches for 2,458 yards with 14 scores.

He ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at his pro day in May with a 1.50-second 10-yard split and 36-inch vertical leap. He ran a 6.75-second 3-cone at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.07-second short shuttle, 9-foot, 9-inch broad jump and 14 bench press reps of 225 pounds.

Foster had just four fumbles in 667 college touches, and he didn’t fumble at all as a senior. He dropped eight passes in 2015. He didn’t make any deep receptions on 13 targets, caught just 41.7 percent of his intermediate targets and 63.6 percent in the shallow part of the field.

The Patriots likely will try Foster at both running back and wide receiver. He projects as a third-down back or slot receiver in the Patriots’ offense.

TE STEVEN SCHEU, VANDERBILT

Scheu (pronounced SHOY), stood out for the Commodores in 2014, catching 39 passes for 525 yards with four touchdowns. His output dropped to 27 catches for 240 yards with just one touchdown as a senior as the entire Vanderbilt passing attack struggled. He dropped five passes in 2015. He finished his college career with 83 receptions for 933 yards with seven touchdowns.

The 6-foot-5, 256-pound tight end ran a 4.75-second 40-yard dash at his pro day in March with a 1.65-second 10-yard split, 7.14-second 3-cone, 4.35-second short shuttle, 33-inch vertical leap, 9-foot, 8-inch broad jump and 23 bench press reps of 225 pounds.

Scheu has the size and athleticism for the NFL, but he has to prove he has the strength to serve as an inline blocker.

TE BRYCE WILLIAMS, EAST CAROLINA

Williams has prototypical size for an NFL tight end at 6-foot-6, 257 pounds. He walked on at Marshall in 2011 before transferring and walking on to East Carolina in 2013.

He caught 58 passes for 583 yards with four touchdowns and just three drops as a senior. He caught 96 passes in his college career for 1,040 yards with 13 scores.

He ran a 4.86-second 40-yard dash at his pro day in March with a 1.71-second 10-yard split. He ran a 7.19-second 3-cone with a 4.53-second short shuttle, 9-foot, 3-inch broad jump, 29.5-inch vertical leap and 19 bench press reps of 225 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Williams has the size to serve as an inline tight end in the NFL, though he needs to show “desire and grit,” according to NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein.

Williams and Scheu have an uphill battle to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster with a crowded tight end depth chart, which also includes Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Clay Harbor, Michael Williams and A.J. Derby. They will compete with Harbor, Williams and Derby for one or possibly two spots on the Patriots’ roster.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Sep 26, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver D.J. Foster (8) against the Southern California Trojans at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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