New England Patriots: 6 July Thoughts

3 of 7

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Much is still to be determined, but three cornerbacks have risen over the course of the offseason: Bradley Fletcher, Logan Ryan and Robert McClain, with Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler also figuring prominently in the depth chart.

After seeing Darrelle Revis depart in free agency, Patriots fans weren’t exactly chomping at the bit when Fletcher signed with the Patriots this offseason. However, the much-maligned former Eagle is approaching this season with renewed focus, and you can bet that he’ll be excited to face his nemesis in Week 5, Dez Bryant. You can pencil-in Fletcher as a starter.

Perhaps more than any other defensive back, Ryan has been turning heads all offseason. It’s apparent that he views himself, not Butler or Fletcher, as the Patriots’ replacement for Revis. Rumblings around Foxboro indicate that at this point, a starting spot is Ryan’s to lose.

The Patriots were content letting Kyle Arrington sign elsewhere because of McClain. Think of the Arrington departure as similar to that of Wes Welker; a gradually declining player that Bill Belichick figured he could replace with a lesser-known but proven entity. McClain is one of the league’s more underrated slot corners.

And then there’s Butler, who will probably enter the season as the No. 3 outside corner (McClain will likely play only in the slot). Super Bowl XLIX heroism aside, that wouldn’t be too shabby for a player who’s only a year removed from undrafted anonymity.

Next: 4. Some Other Corners You Should Know About