This is a new series that I put out each Wednesday until the the one and only roster cut this year, on Sunday September 3rd at 4pm. It attempts to highlight a player that I think may have some trouble making the 53-man roster.
I'm always on the lookout for the next big undrafted free agent to get noticed and make a significant contribution: (See Butler, Malcolm.) Obviously, easier said than done as these guys are mostly camp bodies that rarely make the cut. This year, I'm intrigued by the slot receiver out of Northwestern: Austin Carr.
Carr features an interesting combination of height and weight for a slot receiver in the Pats system. Wes Welker he is not. At 6'1" and 194 pounds, Carr represents a much larger target in the middle of the field. Although he is less shifty than we are used to, and sometimes can have trouble separating from defenders, he seems like a reliable target to find the open space on the field. His soft hands were clearly an asset in the first preseason game, and his touchdown catch was the highlight of the night. In the Big Ten last season he won the "triple crown" of receivers, leading the conference in receptions, yards, and tuddies. Is that bad? Did I break it?
With a stacked receiving corp. of veterans, Carr initially faces long odds to make the squad. His skill set seems a little redundant with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola already on the roster. Add in newcomer Brandin Cooks, plus Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan...that's a lot. The Pats rarely carry more than 5 receivers. (I'm not counting Mathew Slater as a true WR. Also get well soon please.) Carr faces even more competition from second year man Devin Lucien who has turned some heads early in camp but has been banged up. We certainly can't keep both.
Ideally, Carr is the type of rookie that you would like to stash on your practice squad. He represents quality depth and could move into a more significant role if there is an injury this season. Not to mention his outlook for next year when Amendola decides not to take another pay cut/retires (if that ever happens.) Per usual, it's going to come down to Special Teams contributions. Can Carr show his value in that phase of the game and use it to beat out a backup edge rusher, another core special teamer, or maybe even our friendly neighborhood DB, Cyrus Jones? Because if Carr can successfully catch punts, he already has my vote. Here's hoping the Pats can find a spot for this guy, or be prepared for the Jets to snag him off waivers, dooming him to a life of catching catching ducks from Christian Hackenberg like he's this guy