The New England Patriots signed eight players to future contracts at the conclusion of the 2019 season. The most interesting player might be defensive end Tashawn Bower.
Bower went undrafted out of LSU in 2017 and latched on with the Minnesota Vikings for the better part of three seasons. He played in seven games and recorded five tackles with a sack before tearing his Achilles last offseason. He was placed on the non-football injury list, waived in October and signed to the Patriots’ practice squad in November.
Bower only started seven games at LSU but was efficient as a pass rusher. He registered four sacks, four QB hits and 12 hurries in just 123 pass-rush snaps in 2016 as a senior. He’s been similarly productive in two preseasons. He has three sacks, three QB hits and 11 hurries in just 148 preseason pass-rush snaps.
Bower has good size at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. He ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash with a 31-inch vertical leap, 10-feet, 1-inch broad jump, 7.2-second 3-cone drill and 4.37-second short shuttle at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. His height, 40 time, broad jump, three-cone, short shuttle and 60-yard shuttle all are above average for his position.
Bower is competing for a roster spot and snaps with fellow Patriots edge defenders Derek Rivers, John Simon, Chase Winovich and Deatrich Wise. Shilique Calhoun is an unrestricted free agent, while Keionta Davis is an exclusive-rights free agent.
Simon, Winovich, Wise and Calhoun all were on the Patriots’ active roster last season. Rivers, a 2017 third-round pick, spent the 2019 season on injured reserve. He also missed his rookie season in 2017 with a torn ACL. Davis also came into the league in 2017 but missed last season and his rookie year with injuries.
Bower is certainly no guarantee to make the Patriots’ 2020 roster, but he has a shot. The Patriots have few sure-things at defensive end, and Bower has some experience. He has to impress in OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the preseason and show some special-teams prowess.
The Patriots clearly wanted to work with Bower more after he spent a month-and-a-half on their practice squad. He’ll be a player to watch this spring and summer.
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