(Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2013.)
NAME: Chris McDonald
2012 STATS: 13 games (13 starts) -- at Michigan State
INJURY STATUS: No known injuries.
CHANCE OF MAKING 53-MAN ROSTER: 25%
WHY HE SHOULD MAKE IT: McDonald's path to the 53-man roster closely mirrors that of another undrafted free agent, Matt Stankiewitch. The Patriots are slightly thin on veteran depth along their offensive line, giving rookies like McDonald and Stankiewitch a shot at cracking the roster. In this case, the younger McDonald will in some ways be competing with his older brother, Nick. While there could be room for both of them, the best way for Chris to secure a spot is to do what his brother did: learn both guard and center, and provide value through his versatility.
WHY HE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT: While it's tough to gauge exactly how much an effect this will have beyond spring practices, Stankiewitch could have the upper hand on McDonald because he came into New England already knowing the terminology of the Patriots' system, having played under former offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien at Penn State. It's very unlikely that the Patriots will be able to keep both McDonald brothers and Stankiewitch on their 53-man roster, so this knowledge of the offense might give Stankiewitch the edge heading into the preseason.
CLOSEST COMPETITION: G/C Nick McDonald, C Matt Stankiewitch, G Josh Kline