The New England Patriots have now filled out their 90-man roster heading into training camp, as MassLive.com’s Nick Underhill reports that John Drew has signed with the Patriots, and this has been confirmed by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss.
John Drew is a small school defensive tackle who played his college ball for North Carolina Central, and he was one of several players that the New England Patriots tried out in minicamp, with former New York Jets and Oakland Raiders wide receiver Chaz Schilens being the most notable (many confused him initially with former Patriots wideout Jabar Gaffney at minicamp).
A big 6’2″, 335 pound presence on the interior, Drew is likely just a camp body, but all small school prospects are intriguing. Whenever a team signs a UDFA from a small school, I always wonder what stood out during the workout, as Drew must have continued to impress the Patriots staff.
According to Reiss, Drew passed his conditioning test, and the details regarding his deal are being ironed out. If you haven’t heard of Drew, then that’s probably because he is from North Carolina Central, but the other reason is because a turf toe caused him to miss out on the entire pre-draft process. In fact, Drew was never able to participate at his school’s pro day due to the injury, and it left his future in the NFL in doubt. Now, he is about to sign with the New England Patriots, and he is somebody worth keeping an eye on at defensive tackle. I see him as a longshot at making the roster (Cory Grissom is my pick as a UDFA DT to make the roster, largely because he should have been drafted), and he will make the league minimum (no surprise).
Drew, who runs a 4.79 forty, recorded 18 tackles with five for a loss last season. According to Underhill, the turf toe injury was the only thing keeping the Patriots from signing Drew sooner, so they must really be impressed with the UDFA DT. Before that nasty turf toe injury (just ask Matt Ryan how serious they can be), Drew also blocked two kicks.
Joe Vellano is another UDFA worth watching at defensive tackle, by the way.