The Patriots announced nine undrafted free-agent signings on Monday. After not selecting a tight end in the NFL draft, the team loaded up at the position with Bowling Green's Tyler Beck, East Carolina's Justin Jones and North Carolina State's Asa Watson.
Watson (6-foot-3, 237 pounds) is the brother of former Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson (2004-2009). The 23-year-old played in 36 games at N.C. State and totaled 29 receptions for 351 yards with one touchdown over his career.
Jones (6-8, 277) wasn't eligible to play football last season at East Carolina. Prior to that, he was a three-year starter and totaled 52 catches for 598 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Beck (6-2, 257) played in 49 games at Bowling Green, totaling 25 receptions for 348 yards and three touchdowns.
The trio joins veterans Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui and D.J. Williams on the team's depth chart. The Patriots hosted free-agent Dustin Keller before the draft and he remains a possibility to join the club.
As for the other rookie free agent signings, they are as follows:
Oklahoma running back Roy Finch (5-7, 167) -- Played in 47 games with 10 starts, totaling 262 rushing attempts for 1,412 yards and eight touchdowns. Added 58 receptions for 442 yards and two touchdowns.
Oklahoma State safety Shamiel Gary (6-0, 210) -- Played at Wyoming in 2009-2010 before transferring to Oklahoma State and redshirting in 2011. He started every game the last two seasons at strong safety.
Michigan linebacker Cameron Gordon (6-3, 237) -- Played in 45 games, beginning his career as a wide receiver before moving to safety in 2010 and then linebacker in 2011. Last season, he totaled 38 tackles, four sacks and one forced fumble.
Delaware cornerback Travis Hawkins (5-10, 195) -- Transferred to Delaware after two seasons at Maryland; he was a first-team All-Conference pick last season.
Indiana running back Stephen Houston (6-0, 230) -- Finished fourth on Indiana's all-time rushing list with 25 rushing touchdowns. Last season, he rushed for 753 yards on 112 attempts. He spent his first two seasons at Independence (Kansas) Community College.
Mississippi State linebacker Deontae Skinner (6-2, 250) -- A three-year starter, he is coming off a 64-tackle season.
This ups the total number of players on the Patriots' roster to 84, with six open spots to fill. One of them will go to Harvard long-snapper Tyler Ott, who is finishing final exams and won't be available to join the team until later this week.