The New England Patriots signed an undrafted free agent wide receiver who is a former college teammate of Jarrett Stidham.
Stidham and Hastings were college teammates at Auburn and created great chemistry with each other in the process. They each had the best seasons of their college careers in 2017.
Hastings — 5’10”, 174 lbs — reeled in 26 passes while impressively averaging 20.2 yards per reception for 525 yards and scoring four touchdowns as a slot receiver.
In addition to having great footwork and skills, Hastings has the necessary speed — he ran a 4.49 40-yard-dash — to get behind the defense for a deep route. He also averaged 15.1 yards per reception for his career despite being a smaller receiver, and is reminiscent of the Houston Texans’ Will Fuller in this regard.
Hastings was Stidham’s third best receiver in a very fast-moving and dynamic Auburn offense in 2017. They had many different formations on a team that also ventured all the way to the SEC West Division Championship.
He saw his first game action as a sophomore, where six of Hastings’ 11 receptions were converted for first downs. Hastings went on to finish his college career with 56 receptions for 845 yards and six touchdowns in 28 games.
There are now nine undrafted wide receivers on the Patriots roster that Hastings is going to have to work through in order to make the team. It’s fair to say that at least a handful of those players won’t make the final roster. But at the same time, they all have the same chance of doing so.
There’s a chance that the Patriots could be looking at Hastings — who is Julian Edelman-esque as a slot receiver and who already has success playing with Stidham — and thinking that he could be a potential successor to Edelman. While Edelman is still the Patriots’ main producer, he’s also almost 34 years old now and is nearing retirement.
Another position that the Patriots are in need of replacing is a return-man. This might be the best way for Hastings to make the team; however, Hastings does not have any experience as a returner.
With that being said, it’s nothing that Bill Belichick hasn’t seen before. If he and his staff feel that Hastings can transition into a returner and provide depth to the offense, then he will make the team.
Due to Hastings’ ability to take plays deep as a slot receiver — in addition to having a successful history with Stidham — he does have a strong chance in making the final roster for the New England Patriots.
It would also prove the facts that I’ve been tracking in regards to the Patriots attempting to surround Stidham with young and familiar talent.
All in all, Will Hastings has a unique skill set that he brings to the table on top of having a previous history with Jarrett Stidham. But again, as great of a complementary addition as Hastings would be, there are a lot of other receivers who are ahead of him in regards to making the New England Patriots’ final roster.