New England Patriots: Top 10 Prospects

Scout.com's Chris Steuber continues the top 10 prospects series and focuses on another AFC East team, the New England Patriots. In this series, an NFL prospect is classified as a player entering their third year in the NFL or under 25 years of age. Find out who the Patriots top 10 prospects are entering the 2010 season.

Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
LB
6-1
242
3
24

The 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Jerod Mayo, has developed into one of the best linebackers in the league and has led the Patriots in tackles the last two seasons. As a rookie, he recorded 128 tackles and this past season, despite missing five games due to a sprained MCL, Mayo collected 103 tackles and 1.5 sacks. As good as Mayo has been during his first two years in the league, he's primed to have a breakout year in 2010.

Drafted by New England in the 1st Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
OT
6-8
315
2
25

The German-born Sebastian Vollmer is an interesting player, who didn't start playing football until he was 14 years old. But he became a standout at the University of Houston and was ultimately a second round draft pick, after being snubbed from the Scouting Combine last year. The Patriots dealt with injuries to Matt Light and Nick Kaczur in 2009, which forced Vollmer into the starting lineup. Vollmer lined up at right and left tackle and performed very well. As a rookie, he played in 14 games, starting eight of them. As good as Vollmer played last year, he won't be handed a starting position this season; he will compete with Light and Kaczur in training camp.

Drafted by New England in the 2nd Round (2009).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
CB
5-11
183
2
24

A second round pick in the 2009 draft, Darius Butler played a significant role as a rookie for the Patriots. He played in 14 games, starting five, and in his first career start against the Tennessee Titans, he recorded his first career interception. Butler finished his rookie campaign with 35 tackles and three interceptions, one in which he returned for a 91-yard touchdown. He will compete with veterans Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden to be one of the starting corners this year in New England.

Drafted by New England in the 2nd Round (2009).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
WR
6-0
198
2
23

One of the biggest surprise rookies from a year ago, Julian Edelman, filled a major role in the Patriots offense when Wes Welker went down with an injury. Even before Welker got hurt, Edelman displayed the ability to be a reliable receiver and someone who could be a threat to the opposition. As a rookie, Edelman played in 11 games, starting seven, and amassed 37 receptions for 359 yards and a touchdown. As Welker continues to rehab his knee, it's likely that he will miss considerable time this season, which means Edelman will receive more opportunities to be a playmaker.

Drafted by New England in the 7th Round (2009).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
CB
5-11
186
R
22

The Patriots decided to trade down in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft and select Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty with the 27th overall pick. McCourty is a physical, playmaking corner, who also features the speed and versatility to impact a game as a return specialist. He's expected to contribute immediately and could eventually win a starting job.

Drafted by New England in the 1st Round (2010).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
SS
5-11
212
2
22

Primarily a special team’s contributor in his first year in the NFL, Patrick Chung played in all 16 games, starting one last season for the Patriots. Known for his hard knocks style of play, Chung contributed 37 tackles, two sacks and an interception on defense in 2009. And moving forward, he will receive more and more playing time at strong safety.

Drafted by New England in the 2nd Round (2009).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
LB
6-3
242
3
24

A former undrafted free agent, Gary Guyton has performed like an athlete that has a chip on his shoulders in his first two years in the league. He played in 14 games as a rookie, mainly as a special team’s contributor. But, he made two starts towards the end of the year at linebacker and finished the 2008 season with 34 tackles. This past year, Guyton emerged as a starter, and started all 16 games at inside linebacker; he recorded 85 tackles and two sacks. He is the favorite to start along side of Jerod Mayo again this season.

Signed by New England as an undrafted free agent (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
TE
6-6
265
R
20

If it wasn't for him having back surgery prior to the 2009 season, Rob Gronkowski would have been a first round draft pick this year. He has the size and skill set that scouts covet when they observe tight end prospects. Gronkowski is the complete package, and if he stays healthy, he could develop into one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He will become one of Tom Brady's favorite targets.

Drafted by New England in the 2nd Round (2010).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
WR
6-1
212
R
22

With many veterans appearing on the Patriots wide receiver depth chart, the selection of Taylor Price in the third round this year will serve New England well in the future. Price had a breakout senior year for Ohio and caught 56 passes for 784 yards and five touchdowns. The ascension that Price experienced this offseason started with his stellar performance during Senior Bowl week, and it evolved even further after a solid Scouting Combine showing. He will challenge for playing time this year, but will likely be asked to contribute more on special teams.

Drafted by New England in the 3rd Round (2010).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
CB
5-11
185
3
26

Maybe the most underrated defender on the Patriots roster, Jonathan Wilhite has been a pleasant surprise since being selected in the fourth round two years ago. Over the last two years, he's played in every game except for two, and has made 12 starts. He's totaled 73 tackles and three interceptions thus far and will compete for the nickel corner spot on the roster this season.

Drafted by New England in the 4th Round (2008).


For more on the Patriots, check out Patriots Insider.


A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.


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