By Connor Fulton @ConnorFultonRS on July 8, 2014
The New England Patriots will have an exciting mix of draft picks, undrafted rookie free agents and young veterans on the field when training camp opens. However, the harsh reality in the NFL is that many of these promising players will get the chop. That being said, some guys will squeak through on to the team. Here are five dark horse candidates to make the Patriots' roster.
The Georgia Tech product is undersized at 5-foot-9, 192 pounds, so making the team will be an uphill battle. However, Thomas is effective in run support, physical and has a high motor. He could push underachieving veterans Tavon Wilson and Patrick Chung for a depth spot at safety, and he is also valuable as a return man.
With the addition of Brandon LaFell, someone has to go in the Patriots wide receiver depth chart. The top six recievers right now are LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Josh Boyce and Thompkins. Thompkins has been impressive in offseason workouts, so don’t be surprised if it’s the underachieving, injury-prone Amendola who is left off the 53-man roster, not Thompkins.
The Pats were smart to pick up the NC State product as an undrafted free agent, who is the younger brother of former Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson. Benjamin was a favorite target of Tom Brady during his tenure in New England; look for his younger brother to follow suit. He has excellent field awareness and football IQ, traits that should help him survive cuts.
After outstanding showings in both OTA’s and minicamp, Swanson has the inside track on the fifth cornerback spot. It will be tough to unseat longtime Patriot Kyle Arrington, but if Swanson plays like he did during offseason workouts, Bill Belichick will have a hard time letting him go.
At 5-foot-7, 180 pounds, Finch is as quick and slippery as they come, but his diminutive stature is concerning. To make the team, Finch will either have to beat out Brandon Bolden for the fourth running back spot or he will have to carve out a role in the return game.
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