For many years the New England Patriots have been trying to solidify their secondary, mostly the corner position since Asante Samuel left via free agency. They have tried different ways. They went the free agent route with Leigh Bodden, Sean Springs and Deltha O’neal They tried many failed draft picks. Darius Butler, Jonathan Wilhite and Terrence Wheatley Finally last year they traded a 4th round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Aqib Talib
Talib gave the Patriots what they have lacked since the days of Ty Law and Samuel. He instantly gave the team the ability to mix coverages between man and zone. He aloud Devin McCourty to move to safety and the secondary was instantly better. His importance was never more apparent then when he was knocked out of the AFC championship game last season. The teams secondary instantly lost its lustre. From his first game with his pick 6 to the injury his secondary play was what New England needed
The second corner back spot was finally solid with 7th round pick Alfonzo Dennard. He did have his ups and downs but he was around the ball when he needed to be. Dennard should continue to grow into a solid CB in the NFL. His skills sets had him as a 2nd or 3rd round pick in the 2012 draft. His mistake off the field was the Pats gain. I expect a good season from Dennard with a offseason learning the defence.
Kyle Arrington should never be used as anything more then a slot CB. He did get starter type money to remain with the team. Essentially he is a starter in today’s NFL with the amount of sub packages teams play. His interior play is well above average, but on the outside his skills don’t translate
Ras-I Dowling is the forgotten man in the secondary. He can’t stay on the field. If he could his skills would transfer well to the outside. Camp will be his make or break year. The 33rd pick in the 2011 draft acquired for a 3rd rounder in 2010 looked like a steal. Injuries have derailed both his seasons with the Pats. His season will go a long way into whether or not the Patriots sign Talib long term. He is a bigger corner in the Richard Sherman mould. At 6’2″ and a 4.45 40 at the combine he has the physical gifts to be a star
Ryan Logan the rookie from Rutgers is a fine zone corner. He will be brought along to play multiple coverages and had many positive plays in college. Special teams will be how he makes his mark at first. The better he plays there the more opportunities he will see in Matt Patricia’s defence.
Continuity with the secondary is huge. With the top 3 CBS in tack coverages will become more complex. With McCourty at free Safety his ball skills will only help. Safety is a better fit for him as he plays better with the play in front of him. Adrian Wilson and Tavon Wilson should alternate next to McCourty. 3rd round pick Harmon should make the team over Gregory.
Finally the secondary might become a strength instead of a weakness.
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