2015 marks a changing of the guard with the departure of Vince Wilfork, but the Patriots look equipped to have one of their most dynamic defensive fronts in years. Excellent ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich return, and they also beefed up the depth of the defensive end position with the signing of Jabaal Sheard. Alan Branch, who looked more effective than Wilfork late last season, will be part of the interior rotation. Dominique Easley is the enigma; can he stay healthy and show the talent he displayed at Florida? New England is banking on it. The steal of the draft also came on the defensive front with Malcom Brown, the defensive tackle they didn't ever expect to see at 32. Brown will start, assuming the Patriots use four-man fronts; teams are going to regret not taking him. Rookie Trey Flowers proved he could make plays at Arkansas and he'll get his chance for New England too, although it may take awhile for him to fully crack the rotation. Sealver Siliga returns to add very solid depth, as does veteran Joe Vellano.
This crew took some hits last season when they lost Jerod Mayo for the season and then watched Dont'a Hightower tough out a torn labrum that had to be operated on in February. It appears that the two are on the mend and will be ready for the start of the season, so that is huge for a defense with new faces. Jamie Collins is starting to take the step to being a special player, and he may explode this year. If the top three linebackers stay healthy, the Patriots defense could be very tough to deal with. Dane Fletcher returns to add depth at the mike linebacker spot, and third round pick Geneo Grissom will also win a job as an outside linebacker. The final job will be a battle between veterans Jonathan Freeny and Darius Fleming, with Fleming coming out on top due to his better overall skills at linebacker.
Secondary- FS- Devin McCourty, CB- Logan Ryan, CB- Malcolm Butler, SS- Patrick Chung, SS- Jordan Richards, CB- Tarell Brown, CB- Robert McClain, CB- Bradley Fletcher, CB- Darryl Roberts, FS-Duron Harmon
The talk of the offseason- the new cornerback crew and revamped secondary. After an offseason of moves, it looks like the Patriots have constructed not only a starting secondary, but maybe a very good one. Free safety Devin McCourty is the best in the game at his position, and he's getting better every year. Patrick Chung, who had strong year in 2014, also returns and will start at strong safety. Cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler are the only returnee's at corner, but additions Robert McClean, Bradley Fletcher, and Tarell Brown are all great under-the-radar signings. If I was a betting man, I'd say Brown and Butler will be the starters, and Logan Ryan may push McClean out of the nickel position. Fletcher could possibly win a starting job, but he's probably going to play mainly on passing downs. Safeties Jordan Richards and Duron Harmon will back up McCourty and Chung, and both should expect to see some playing time this season. Rookie seventh round pick Darryl Roberts is the final non-special teams player on the roster. Richards appeared polished, talented, and fast in mini-camp, and if he does that in training camp, he'll make the team.
Punter- Ryan Allen
Kicker- Stephen Gostkowski
Long Snapper- Joe Cardona
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