This is Part 2 of the 10 Patriots with the most to prove heading into training camp. To read the first five Patriots visit Part 1.
Who’s got the eye of the tiger?
The thrill of the fight…
Heading into the 2018 training camp for the New England Patriots, there are 90 hungry young men vying for 53 roster spots. Who wants it most? Which player will fight off challengers for a roster spot? Training camp is the place to find answers to these questions. The quest for a sixth championship begins with the start of the regular season. There is lots of work to be done in that time.
For your pre-training camp look at which Patriots have the most to prove, we have dived deep into the roster and dissected position depth, contract details, and likelihood of making the roster. Of course, we will apply the highly scientific Shakeup Factor to let you know the potential impact if these players do not make the team.
Elandon Roberts, LB
Roberts has performed admirably for a sixth round pick. He has started for the bulk of two years with the Patriots and won a Super Bowl while playing in another. However, his limited coverage abilities have been exposed and the Patriots may be looking for younger, better replacements.
Shakeup Factor: 4.8
He has definitely fallen short of being the “best linebacker in the Draft.” But Roberts has made a very positive impact and replacing his snaps will have to come from Hightower or some of the unproven players on the team.
Mike Gillislee, RB
When the Patriots signed the restricted free agent from Buffalo, many thought that he would turn into the next big thing at running back. It didn’t quite work out that way. In fact, he was not even active for a good portion of the later part of the season. With just under 2.2 million in cap space, it seems unlikely that the team will allow the Gillislee experiment to continue.
Shakeup Factor: 5.2
The SF number takes into account the likelihood that Jeremy Hill will get cut as well. It seems logical that the two big backs are battling for one roster spot. If Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and James White are ready to shoulder the load, then it could be that the Patriots don’t keep another RB at all. This logic is surprising, but not unthinkable.
Phillip Dorsett, WR
Trading away a young, cost-controlled quarterback that had already shown he can win games as a rookie would normally result in shockwaves. The Patriots trading Jacoby Brissett for a lackluster Phillip Dorsett was only the second highest QB trade they completed last season. After a year of limited impact, Dorsett has a good foundation and could make more noise this year in the crowded group of receivers. But it will be a dogfight for the speedster to make the team.
Shakeup Factor: 5.5
Trading away a quality QB prospect for a single season of poor production from a wide receiver would be considered a bad deal by any team out there. Dorsett getting cut before the year starts would go down as one of the poorer evaluations from Bill Belichick.
Dwayne Allen, TE
Despite his lack of quantifiable production in 2017, Dwayne Allen made a big impact that didn’t necessarily show up on the stats sheet. As the second tight end on the depth chart, his blocking abilities were surely underestimated. Will that be enough for the Pats to keep him, especially with a 13.4 million cap hit and no dead money over the next two seasons? It doesn’t seem likely.
Shakeup Factor: 7.3
Allen has competition at the tight end spot. The Patriots signed Troy Niklas and Will Tye as veterans and reports on Jacob Hollister have been just short of glowing. Allen will have to turn in his playbook if someone steps up and shows they can block as well as be productive in the passing game. That 5 million cap space could probably be used more resourcefully than for a blocking pylon.
Joe Thuney, OG
The story of Joe Thuney is a compelling one; he was a third round offensive line prospect that won the starting job as a rookie and has started every game since. The current chapter may be coming to an end.
Thuney has struggled at times. Alongside the smaller David Andrews at center, struggles between the two can contribute to breakdowns on the offensive line. Still, there are a lot of questions to be answered. Does Trent Brown win the starting left tackle job? If Isaiah Wynn plays guard this season, do the Patriots value Thuney as a backup?
Shakeup Factor: 8.2
The Patriots have always been relatively unconventional with their offensive line. O-line savant Dante Scarnecchia has surely gained the right to make the risky roster decisions. If Thuney is the best option, he will play. If they can get good value for him, he will get a second chance somewhere else. Regardless, the offensive line should be better for the 2018 season and help the Patriots back to the Super Bowl.
Training camp will shake the tree and the nuts will tell the story. Stay tuned.
All photos courtesy of Getty images unless noted otherwise.
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