Patriots undrafted free agent could make a splash and start by year 2

A center who went undrafted could be the next David Andrews.
Texas A&M v LSU
Texas A&M v LSU / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

The New England Patriots' draft history has been checkered and, more often than not, poor. This was especially true under former general manager Bill Belichick, whose tenure was littered with a litany of high draft picks who flopped.

One area in which Belichick and his Patriots excelled, however, was Undrafted Free Agency, aka UDFAs. There, Belichick shined, amassing some key contributors to lots of success, including Super Bowl wins. Credit where credit is due; he did marvelously there.

Among the UDFA stars he amassed was Super Bowl-play winner par excellence, cornerback Malcolm Butler. Others include wide receiver, Jakobi Meyers, cornerbacks Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson, Myles Bryant, and running back, Brandon Bolden, all of whom contributed.

One who stands out as perhaps the best of all is a former Georgia center, none other than long-time Day One starter and future Patriots' Hall of Famer David Andrews.

As David Andrews nears retirement, who's waiting in the wings?

Andrews started most of the games in the eight seasons he's played for the Pats (he missed 2019 due to illness) since the former Bulldog was signed in 2015. It's safe to say that he was a stellar signing, indeed. Andrews, now 31, seems to be nearing the close of his great Patriots career. It wouldn't be a stretch to think he may be playing his last season or one of his last couple in 2024.

That begs the question of who'll be on hand to replace him. One option will be his namesake, Jake Andrews, who came aboard in 2023 as a fourth-round draft choice. Jake played in all 16 games last season and started one. It's safe to say he wasn't a difference-maker.

Perhaps with that in mind, the team signed another UDFA this week. It's Charles Turner III, a center from the SEC, this time from another powerhouse, LSU. Turner snapped the ball for 2023 Heisman Trophy Winner Jayden Daniels (a favorite here) the past two seasons. Nothing wrong with those credentials. had this to say about Turner in it's Combine Report,

"Turner is an undersized center-only prospect who relies on his tenacity to overcome his limitations. The LSU offensive line was a physical unit and Turner fit right in. While he held his own for the most part, the step up in competition could strain his ability to keep up as both a run blocker and pass protector. He has good length and is a decent athlete but will need to improve his technique and show that he can play with enough contact balance to grind out reps on the NFL level."

Interestingly, a 6'4", 303-pound center is noted as "undersized." It's nothing that a good NFL nutrition program shouldn't be able to overcome in a year or so when it might be time for the former LSU Tiger to step into the starting lineup.

Turner, highly regarded by a top draft publication

A far more positive outlook was had by Ourlads (Subscription required), which rated Turner as about the fourth-best center prospect in the draft and projected him to be a third or fourth-round player in their "Ourlads 2024 Guide to the NFL Draft".

Summing up, Turner has played at a high level in college for a very successful program, LSU. As noted above, he's also likely to have room to improve in the future. That means a higher ceiling. Overall, it seems like an excellent UDFA signing by Eliot Wolf and the Patriots.

Turner is a player who will likely be well-motivated by not getting drafted. It won't be a shock here if Turner earns the starting center spot whenever David Andrews decides to call it a career. At worst, expect him to give Jake Andrews tough competition for the backup position in 2024.

Motivated and talented players from big-time programs who don't get drafted will have a chip on their shoulders. Don't be at all surprised if Turner makes the 2024 53-man roster and becomes the ultimate successor to David Andrews.

After all, he's a Patriots UDFA. That's what they do.

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