Scouting Bolden & Francis

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Almost every year in Bill Belichick's tenure as Patriots head coach, the team has had a rookie free agent beat the odds to earn a spot on the initial 53-man roster.

Through 10 training camp practices, the top candidates this year look like running back Brandon Bolden (Mississippi) and defensive end Justin Francis (Rutgers).

Both have participated in every practice of camp (Francis was carted off for one with cramps), and both have shown up with some nice plays on a consistent basis.

With this in mind, director of player personnel Nick Caserio was asked about Bolden (5-11, 220) and Francis (6-2, 268), and why they might have been undrafted.

"There are cases like that every year, players where you say, 'How did Arian Foster not get drafted?' There are multiple examples," Caserio answered.

"Both of those players were productive players. Brandon was pretty productive at Ole Miss against good people. Had some injuries a little bit his senior year, but he was a productive player -- big, strong, caught the ball well, good runner.

"Justin was a pretty versatile player. They actually played him as a 3 technique (outside shade on guard) and a little bit of a 1 technique (inside shade on guard), so he kind of played inside defensive tackle, and some on the perimeter on the end of the line of scrimmage. Disruptive player. Played 100 miles per hour, non-stop motor.

"So there are cases like that every year, and you just kind of scratch your head and say 'How come he didn't get drafted?' I don't know. It's just the way it goes sometimes. I think you can find players just about anywhere, through the draft, any round, not drafted. That's the way personnel and scouting goes."