The New England Patriots currently have six wide receivers on their 2019 roster, and it’s completely forgivable if only two of their names ring a bell.
Hopefully, you’ve heard of Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater. But Braxton Berrios, Riley McCarron, Damoun Patterson and Darren Andrews are only known by true Patriots diehards — or folks paid to know their names.
We’ll get into Berrios and Patterson later, but let’s focus on Andrews today. The Patriots added Andrews as an undrafted free agent in May, but he spent the entire 2018 season on the non-football injury list. Andrews tore his ACL nine games into his 2017 senior season at UCLA where he played with quarterback Josh Rosen.
Prior to suffering the injury, Andrews had caught 60 passes for 773 yards with 10 touchdowns and added four carries for 49 yards. The 5-foot-10, 181-pound receiver did most of his work out of the slot, lining up inside on 59.6 percent of his snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. He caught 35 passes on 54 targets for 472 yards with six touchdowns out of the slot.
For an undersized slot receiver, Andrews did a lot of damage on deep passes. He caught 8-of-18 deep targets for 268 yards with six touchdowns.
Overall in 2017, Andrews dropped just four passes for a 6.25 percent drop rate.
Andrews didn’t practice a single time with the Patriots in 2018, but he did spend time with the team, so it’s likely he’s already familiar with the playbook. Andrews should be viewed as a longshot to make the Patriots’ 2019 roster, but he’ll have a chance to compete for a slot or “Z” receiver role. There’s no more unknown commodity on the Patriots’ roster than Andrews since he hasn’t played since midway through the 2017 college season. He also didn’t perform in any pre-draft testing last winter.
Receivers Cordarrelle Patterson, Phillip Dorsett and Chris Hogan are entering unrestricted free agency next month while Josh Gordon is a restricted free agent. That’s why the Patriots currently are left with just Edelman, Slater, Andrews, Berrios, Patterson and McCarron on their 90-man roster.
We expect maybe one of Patterson, Dorsett or Hogan to be back next season, so the Patriots certainly have some holes to fill in their receiver corps, and they could do so with some big names. But Andrews has a headstart on the competition after being around the team in 2018. He’ll either surprise in offseason workouts and training camp or go the way of most undrafted free agents who spend their first season on a reserve list. Andrews does have some appealing traits, so he’s a player to watch once practice start up again in the spring.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.