Now that the 2014 NFL Draft is officially in the books, it is time to take a look at undrafted free agents. As far as the New England Patriots are concerned, they have turned several UDFA’s who were overlooked for a variety of reasons into very productive players over the years. This list includes, but is not limited to Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Brandon Bolden, Adam Vinatieri, Kenbrell Thompkins, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly and Kyle Arrington.
Another player who could emerge as a steal for them in similar fashion is former Oklahoma Sooners RB Roy Finch. Finch, who many believe should have gotten more touches as a Sooner, has the ability to be great. He is a quick, decisive back who hits the hole with authority and has great balance.
What is particularly notable in Finch’s game is his acceleration along with his nasty cuts and spin move that leaves defenders jumping out of their shoes. If you watch him, he eludes defenders even when it seems inevitable that he will be brought down. Finch also has solid hands out of the backfield. He complements all of these qualities with top-end speed and strength, running a 4.44 40-yard dash and putting up 22 bench press reps despite weighing just 167 pounds.
With all of these attributes, you may be wondering why he was so overlooked in the draft to not warrant a selection in seven rounds. The answer is simple.
During his time at Oklahoma, his work ethic was highly questioned, he was suspended as a result of a misdemeanor charge of property damage and he suffered a hairline fracture in his ankle during the 2010 season. He is also diminutive in stature as he sits at 5-foot-7 and 167 pounds. Teams may have been worried about the injury factor with Finch, especially with the hairline fracture on his resume.
If Finch can stay healthy, he could be in the mix for some carries immediately with Shane Vereen‘s durability issues, LeGarrette Blount out of town and Stevan Ridley‘s fumbling issues being what they are. If Finch really impresses, although it may be a long shot, he could even seize the starting job in New England’s backfield. With players like Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren Sproles and Danny Woodhead among others taking the league by storm, gone are the days where a running back needs to be big to be an every-down rusher.
If Finch is not in the Patriots’ plans for 2014, he will most certainly have the chance to be a fixture for the team in 2015 and beyond. Both Ridley and Vereen’s contracts are set to expire after the season and it is unlikely that the Patriots will keep both of them long term. That could open the door for him to compete with draftee James White and Bolden for the lion’s share of the team’s carries next season.
Either way, I would expect Finch to have the opportunity to prove all of his doubters wrong and could follow in the footsteps of the Patriots UDFA running backs before him.