Expected to be a longshot on the New England Patriots 53-man roster, young wide receiver Kamar Aiken is starting to pick up steam thanks to some strong performances during OTAs. Aiken spent some time on the Patriots roster last season, but the former UCF Knights star was mostly reserved to the Pats practice squad. Possessing great size and speed (4.45 forty yard dash that earns him the most Google searches), Aiken has some interesting upside, and that is what could make him nab an unlikely roster spot. I don’t expect him too, but it is possible.
ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss is the one who reminded us not to overlook Aiken in his excellent quick-hit column this Sunday morning, and Reiss believes that he has the “potential to be a factor” and could be a “late-bloomer”. Aiken is a name to watch for in training camp, because he could steal a valuable roster spot as a wide receiver if he continues to impress.
Zach Sudfeld was an extremely notable diamond-in-the-rough who performed at a high level during OTAs, and he took advantage of injuries to Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and a minor ankle exit from Jake Ballard during the last session of media-access OTAs. Sudfeled, an undrafted free agent, was a star in college at Nevada and has all the tools to be a top tight end with great blocking, smooth pass-catching, and a 6’7″ frame that has “upside” all over it. Injures were a huge factor and he definitely isn’t a sure thing, but Sudfeld is playing himself into a position to be a lock for the practice squad.
The beat writers certainly took notice of Sudfeld’s performance, as he clearly seized that opportunity with more practice reps. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe views Sudfeld as a “good bet to crack” the Patriots 53-man roster, and he had some incredible stats to back that up in his column today. Volin wrote that Sudfeld’s catch rate of 74.1% was significantly superior to touted TE prospects Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz, and he also had the most “key receptions” with 22. Per Volin, Sudfeld was also easily the best blocker of all the draft prospects at tight end, and it sounds like he does indeed have the total package. The question is whether or not he will be able to stay healthy and show off that ability in the NFL.
And man, those were some awesome metrics that Volin just gave us.