Patriots sign seven undrafted free agents


The Patriots announced on Friday that they had signed seven undrafted free agents, including a quarterback-turned-receiver out of Michigan. 

Devin Gardner highlights the new class of Patriots undrafted rookies as he tries to make the transition from signal-caller to pass-catcher. The class also includes Georgia center David Andrews, Cal receiver Chris Harper, UAB defensive back Jimmy Jean, Auburn defensive back Brandon King, Ball State defensive back Eric Patterson and Vanderbilt defensive lineman Vince Taylor. 

A three-year starter, Andrews was a captain last season and was named the team's MVP in December. He was thought to be one of the best centers in the country as a senior, but when he participated in the East-West Shrine game he got some work at guard.

Experts say Andrews is technically sound and athletic, but at 6-foot-2, 295 pounds, the frame he carries may be deemed by some as too light to withstand NFL defensive lines.

The Patriots have found success with smaller interior linemen in the past, however. Last year's starting right guard Ryan Wendell -- who started as New England's center in 2012 and 2013 -- is currently listed at 6-2, 300 pounds. When he entered the league out of Fresno State he was about 280 pounds. While it took Wendell a few seasons to find a regular role, the Patriots kept him around despite his relative lack of size.

The comparisons to Julian Edelman are inevitable. Like Edelman, Gardner was a college quarterback who is hoping to make the leap to the NFL as a wideout. But Gardner is a much different type of prospect than Edelman in that he's 6-4 and 217 pounds.

Though his receiving skill set is very raw, Gardner has the traits to be a size mismatch on the outside, and he's thought of as a hard-worker who will get the most out of his ability in due time. Plus, one would think that it would have to be a positive that he could give his new team another arm to use in practice if a need a rose. Gardner reportedly worked out for the Patriots back in March

Not a single player from the University of California was drafted this year, but Harper was picked up by the Patriots soon after the draft finished. His team's No. 2 receiver last season, he caught 159 balls for 1,963 yards and 13 scores in his three-year career. 

At 5-11, 182 pounds, Harper is thought of as a solid route-runner and he projects as a potential slot receiver at the next level who could chip in as a return man.

One of two big defensive backs the Patriots went after on Saturday after the draft, Jean checks in at 6-2, 202 pounds. A two-year starter at UAB after spending two years at Alabama Baptist Junior College, Jean had a decent pro day for someone of his size, running a 4.58-second 40-yard dash and a posting a 35-inch vertical. 

Though a corner at UAB, Jean could be moved to safety and likely will have to have to compete for a spot as a special teamer when he gets to Foxboro. 

Another tall defensive back at 6-2, 217, King actually made a move from safety to linebacker last season in order to help the team's pass-rush. 

At his pro day in March, he ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and recorded a 35-inch vertical.

Patterson is the smallest defensive back among this year's crop of undrafted free agent acquisitions, measuring in at 5-foot-9, 197 pounds. He ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at his pro day and was named an All-MAC third-team honoree in 2014. An experienced kicking-game contributor, he was an All-MAC first-teamer for his role as a kick returner last season.

At 6-foot-1, 307 pounds, Taylor was a powerful player on the interior of the Commodores defensive line last season. He completed 36 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at his pro day -- a total that would have been the best for his position at this year's NFL Scouting Combine. 

The Patriots worked out Taylor in the week leading up to the draft, according to the Tennessean

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