This is the final installment of a 17-part series in which we have been forecasting what 2016 holds in store for each member of the New England Patriots’ rookie class. Today, we’re forecasting former East Carolina tight end Bryce Williams. In case you missed it, here is yesterday’s forecast of rookie defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton.
The skinny: a few weeks after hosting Williams for a workout in April, the Patriots signed Williams along with the seven other undrafted rookies we’ve forecasted in this series. Standing at 6-foot-6 with impressive straight line speed, Williams certainly has a better chance of making the final roster than fellow undrafted rookie tight end Steven Scheu, who was handed a cloudy forecast late last week.
Pessimistic forecast: Williams may be higher on the totem pole than Scheu, but here’s the problem facing the East Carolina product: the Patriots have no shortage of experience at the tight end position. After sure-fire roster makes Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, there’s proven veteran Clay Harbor, blocking specialist Michael Williams and 2015 draft pick A.J. Derby standing in the way of Williams. With all that competition, Williams has no room for error in training camp, and the errors rack up. Williams gets cut in the first wave.
Optimistic forecast: Unlike Scheu, Williams’ optimistic forecast is a surprise performance in training camp that lands him on the Week 1 roster. By proving to be an aerial attack asset in all four preseason games, Williams leapfrogs over Harbor, Derby and Scheu. The Patriots even decide to part ways with run blocking specialist Wliiams to make room for this long-haired freshman.
Realistic forecast: Williams impresses throughout training camp and limits his mistakes, but he is squeezed out by Harbor, Derby or Williams for a spot on the final roster. But that’s alright, since the Patriots value his huge frame and athleticism enough to keep him around on the practice squad and activate him in the wake of injuries.
Well, that does it for our forecasting series. Stay tuned later this week as we begin our jersey-number countdown until Week 1.