Making the 53-man roster is difficult for any Patriots rookie, never mind cracking the top of the depth chart. How each player performs in training camp is often the first step toward a meaningful role under head coach Bill Belichick. Here’s how notable Patriots rookies have performed so far.
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn University, 4th round (133rd overall)
Jarrett Stidham has been one of training camp’s most impressive players thus far. A fourth-round pick out of Auburn, Stidham has made a name for himself early with strong play.
On Tuesday, Stidham threw an impressive 8 for 8 to add on to his 68-percent completion percentage through 10 days of camp.
His teammates have been heaping on the praise for the rookie QB, with running back James White saying, “He’s got good command. It’s tough being a quarterback on any team, especially on our offense.”
Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett backed up White’s praise of Stidham, saying, “He’s getting more comfortable. He has a live arm, can make any throw. I like Jarrett. It’s the National Football League, and he’s young. Coming in here is tough. A lot of stuff gets thrown at you really fast and changes on the move, so you have to be able to adjust. He’s doing all right.”
There’s plenty of practice and an entire preseason schedule still remaining before the start of the season, so Stidham still has a lot to prove. However, he will have to keep up the strong performances he’s had in camp with Brian Hoyer still taking more snaps in practice.
Through 8 practices of team drills:
Tom Brady: 60 of 96 (62.5 percent)
Brian Hoyer: 48 of 68, 2 INT (70.6 percent)
Jarrett Stidham: 28 of 44, 1 INT (63.6 percent)
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) August 2, 2019
Damien Harris, University of Alabama, 3rd round (87th overall)
Harris put up monster numbers at Alabama, rushing for over 1,000 yards for three straight seasons, starting in 2016. As an NFL rookie though, Harris has a lot of competition for snaps. The Patriots’ three leaders in rushing attempts — Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead — are all returning for the 2019 season. Despite this, Harris has been competing for snaps in training camp, and he has gotten a look as a potential goal-line back.
When asked about his role, Harris responded told WEEI, “I think you’d have to ask Coach Belichick that, not me.”
Harris says his main focus it to soak up as much information as he possibly can and get better in the process.
“There’s always areas to improve. Every single day I just want to come out here and be the best player that I can be — learn as much as I can, be a sponge, learn from the older guys, the coaches. Any piece of knowledge I can get, that is what I am looking to do to help this team be successful.”
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State University, 1st round (32nd overall)
Harry was the Patriots’ first pick in the 2019 draft, and with that comes the expectation that he will be a difference maker right from the start. Luckily for Harry, he will have the opportunity to prove himself.
With Demaryius Thomas on the PUP list with a ruptured Achilles, and the rest of the Patriots wide receiver core outside of Julian Edelman being largely inexperienced, there’s a lot of uncertainty at the position. Harry has had an inconsistent start to camp, occasionally showing flashes of brilliance, making spectacular catches, and burning opposing defenders.
We're excited to see N'Keal Harry perform on Sundays, too. pic.twitter.com/amZxf9HRi0
— NESN (@NESN) August 2, 2019
Today in crazy N'Keal Harry receptions: He just elevated to haul in a one-handed touchdown catch from Jarrett Stidham in tight coverage. This is becoming a daily occurrence.
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) August 6, 2019
However, Harry has also been struggling with catching, dropping a fair amount of balls. He also suffered an injury in camp on Tuesday, which could set him back as he sat out practice Wednesday and is unlikely to play the preseason opener Thursday night against the Lions.
If N'Keal Harry wants to get on the field often as a rookie, he should probably learn to catch passes from Tom Brady. pic.twitter.com/3AU8fYNECc
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 1, 2019
A bunch of Patriots starters — including Brady, Gilmore, Hightower, Van Noy, Bennett, McCourtys, Chung, Collins, Michel, White — aren't participating in this quarter-speed walkthrough. N'Keal Harry's sitting out, too. I'd be surprised if any of them played tomorrow night.
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) August 7, 2019
Jakobi Meyers, North Carolina State, Undrafted
Meyers started his college career as a quarterback, before switching to wide receiver for his sophomore year. This decision has done him well, as he has impressed in camp so far.
Jakobi Meyers just understands how to get open in this offense. He reads coverages, leverages really well. Sits down when he’s supposed to. Stuff like that. And he’s got great hands/catch radius. #Patriots
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) August 5, 2019
Teammate Tom Brady praised Meyers saying, “the football doesn’t care how old you are, whether you were drafted or not. The football doesn’t care how much experience you have. It just knows that when I let that ball go, it’s got to be in the hands of the guy who it’s intended for.”
Even Bill Belichick complimented Meyers’s play saying, “Well, he’s a smart kid, and he understands [the offense] and has versatility…Like any rookie, any young player, there’s a lot of things he needs to work on technique-wise — recognition, route adjustments — just a lot of fine points. He basically knows what to do, but there are a lot of subtleties and nuances that all receivers need to pick up — certainly in our offense — and he’s doing that.”
Meyers’s strong play has seen some speculate that he could make the 53-man roster.
Jakobi Meyers was the player of the day. He was the best pass catcher on the field and he did it with Brady at QB. He’s my favorite for an UDFA to make this team
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) August 1, 2019
Gunner Olszewski, Bemidji State, Undrafted
A standout defensive back at Division II Bemidji State, Olszewski reports to camp looking to make the change to wide receiver.
“It’s coming along,” Olszewski said. “It’s day-by-day. Get better tomorrow. Go in, watch the film right now to see what I messed up on today, fix that tomorrow. Tomorrow, mess up something else. I’ll fix that the next day.”
According to reports, Olszewski has been impressive enough to start camp for reporters to wonder if there’s a spot on the practice squad for him.
Ok. I’ll say it: Gunner Olszewski is growing on. And not like a fungus. Not sure if that’s enough to make a practice squad or something but I’ve noticed him. pic.twitter.com/dtpAJw3oWE
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) July 31, 2019
He’s also being given a shot as a potential special teams player, taking reps as a punt returner.
Returning punts this morning: Gunner Olszewski, N’Keal Harry, Braxton Berrios, Jakobi Meyers
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) August 5, 2019
Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia University, 3rd round (101st overall)
With last year’s first-round selection Isaiah Wynn’s health a point of concern — he has yet to compete in contact drills due to a torn Achilles before the start of last season — the Patriots may need a backup.
Cajuste could potentially be an option, but he is currently out with an injured quad and not taking part in practice. It remains unclear when Cajuste will return to action.
Yodny Cajuste is the only player on the non-football injury list. He had surgery on his quad before the draft. pic.twitter.com/ShdrBBiRYk
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) July 21, 2019
Hjalte Froholdt, University of Arkansas, 4th round (118th overall)
Froholdt allowed only three sacks at the University of Arkansas, playing over 2,500 snaps in four years for the Razorbacks. Playing guard for the Patriots in training camp, Froholdt is behind Shaq Mason on the depth chart. This leaves Froholdt fighting for snaps with fellow backup guard Ted Karras. As of now, Froholdt and Karras are both practicing with the 2nd team offense.
RT St. Louis
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) August 6, 2019
Chase Winovich, University of Michigan, 3rd round (77th overall)
Winovich looks like he will be making the move from the defensive line to linebacker as he transitions to the NFL.
Asked Chase Winovich about transitioning to a two-point stance (OLB) from playing with his hand in the ground at Michigan. He said it has put him in a new situation that changes what he sees and what he’s looking for on a play. But did say some things are easier now. #Patriots
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) August 1, 2019
Despite the new position, reports from camp are that Winovich has impressed in training camp. Dont’a Hightower talked about how Winovich’s high motor has stood out.
“He’s definitely got a high motor; that’s for sure. He’s one of the guys who works really hard,” Hightower observed. “He’s always asking questions and he obviously wants to do the right things all of the time. You really couldn’t ask much more from a guy that’s willing to do whatever and then with the way he does it.”
Byron Cowart, University of Maryland, 5th round (159th overall)
Cowart is one of many in a very long list of defensive linemen, including Lawrence Guy, Mike Pennell Jr., Danny Shelton, Adam Butler, and David Parry. Cowart is coming off an injury that held him out the first few days of camp, but reporters seem to think he may be turning a corner.
Byron Cowart has flashed today. Good rush in 1-on-1s and then stuffed a run. Started slow due to injury but making some plays now
— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) August 1, 2019
JoeJuan Williams, Vanderbilt University, 2nd round (45th overall)
The Patriots are deep at cornerback. Stephen Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, and Jason McCourty played all 16 games last season, while J.C Jackson played in 13 games but also was tied for the team leader in interceptions with three. Williams’s role on the Patriots has yet to be decided, but experts are projecting that his rookie season impact will be minimal.
@HHSbobCotter Hi Jake. Joejuan Williams has been out at every practice since camp started, which is a great start. He projects as a game-day inactive right now, IMO, but could factor in to specific game plans depending on the matchup.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 4, 2019
Ken Webster, Ole Miss, 7th round (252nd overall)
Webster, like JoeJuan Williams, is competing for limited spots on the roster at the cornerback position. Webster is currently on the PUP list, forcing him to miss a substantial chunk of the preseason already.
Julian Edelman and Demaryius Thomas both made the trip to Detroit for joint practices (pics via @Patriots).
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) August 4, 2019
D’Angelo Ross, New Mexico, Undrafted
Starting his career at Fullerton Junior College, Ross transferred to New Mexico, where he turned heads during his two seasons. Like Jakobi Meyers, Ross has been an undrafted free agent that has impressed to the point in camp where he has started to practice with the first-team.
D'Angelo Ross briefly ran with the first-team defense in Monday night's walkthrough practice. https://t.co/wEPpvcyhKa
— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) July 31, 2019
UDFA CB D’Angelo Ross has a knack for standing out. Looked real good in 1-on-1s, including one PBU
— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) August 6, 2019
Jason McCourty talked about how Ross’ hot start to preseason hasn’t been a surprise to him.
“The reason I would say he hasn’t surprised me is in the classroom,” Jason McCourty said Friday. “He’s been on top of everything. A guy that — sitting next to him in meetings, he writes every single thing down that the coaches say. You can tell how much he’s putting into it. You can tell when you come in when he’s answering questions in the meeting room that he’s going home and he’s studying and stuff at night. That gives you a chance. So, when you hit the practice field, when you know what you’re doing and you’re confident, it allows you to play fast.”
Ross just wants to make the most of this opportunity saying, “whatever reps I get, I just have to make sure I make the best of them.”
Jake Bailey, Stanford, 5th round (165th overall)
Bailey was drafted by the Patriots despite still having punter Ryan Allen on the roster. As of now, both Allen and Bailey are on the roster and are competing for the starting job. It looks like this is going to be an interesting battle to focus on during the preseason, as reporters are saying that there’s no separation between the two for the starting job.
Patriots practice notes:
Good day (shorts/shells) to focus on Ryan Allen/Jake Bailey punter battle. Both struggle with consistency. No separation.
Isaiah Wynn more involved at LT. Another step.
WR Jakobi Meyers gets more time w/ top unit
S Obi Melifonwu getting quality reps
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 2, 2019