The New England Patriots now have three former Illinois Fighting Illini teammates on defense, with two of them being in the defensive backfield after the team decided to sign UDFA Justin Green yesterday. Green is just a camp body, but I would call him an interesting camp body that has a better shot at making the roster than even recently signed UDFA wide receivers Quentin Sims and Perez Ashford. Alfonzo Dennard will likely be suspended by the league, and that would likely cause the Patriots to seek more depth at the cornerback position. Green is still a longshot, but he does have a shot if the Pats choose to keep six CBs in lieu of Dennard’s situation. In that scenario, Green would also have to beat out Marquice Cole, who is a solid special teams player and depth corner, but Green provides more youth and upside.
Justin Green is an athletic player who ran a 4.40 forty at his pro day, had 21 bench reps, and he also had a 36.5-inch vertical (h/t to reddit). The 5’10”, 198 pound CB originally started his college career with the Illini as a running back before making the switch to CB, where he was a standout in Champaign.
Last season, Green had 36 tackles and six passes defended in 11 starts (12 appearances in total), but it is his athleticism that stands out the most. His speed is also good, and I like how the user on reddit compared his numbers to Alfonzo Dennard’s. It isn’t an exact science, but it is worth noting that Green recorded a forty time .08 seconds faster than Dennard at their respective pro days. Of course, Dennard isn’t known for his speed but rather his pure coverage skills and physicality.
There is little chance of Green cracking the 53-man roster, but he does have a shot thanks to Dennard’s situation. As of right now, the New England Patriots have 89 of their 90 roster spots filled.