Bradley Fletcher is better than you realize


When Bradley Fletcher signed with the New England Patriots this offseason, Philadelphia Eagles fans weren’t exactly heartbroken. Similarly, Patriots fans saw Fletcher as a huge downgrade from the previous owner of the No. 24 jersey. But here’s the thing: Fletcher is a much better player than you think.

There is no doubt that Fletcher had some rough games in 2014. Very rough. In Week 15 against Dez Bryant, Fletcher was responsible for surrendering three touchdowns on five targets. The following week, DeSean Jackson blew by Fletcher on several occasions, which resulted in him being benched before the game was over.

Fletcher was more or less the poster boy for the struggles of the Eagles’ secondary last year. However, it’s debatable as to whether or not Fletcher fully deserved all that grief he got from the Philly fan base, and now that he’s in a fresh setting, his strengths should outweigh his weaknesses.

You probably didn’t know that Fletcher actually led the entire league last season with 22 passes defended. He may have been a major source of stress for Eagles fans at times, but the team grew to depend on him as a result of his pass-deflecting prowess.

More from Patriots News

If you’re still iffy on Fletcher because of his tough outings against Bryant, Jackson and Jordy Nelson last season, keep in mind that those three guys were several of the NFL’s best wide receivers last season. Here’s what Football Outsiders had to say about that:

“No cornerback in football gets a bigger boost in [Fletcher’s] numbers when we account for the opposing receivers he had to face. If we adjust for Fletcher’s schedule — including five games lining up across from Dez Bryant (fifth in receiving DVOA), DeSean Jackson (sixth), and Jordy Nelson (eighth) — Fletcher actually ranked 36th in adjusted success rate, making Fletcher an above-average corner. He is also an excellent value at the price the Patriots paid for him.”

Of the many veteran cornerbacks the Patriots have accumulated over the offseason, Fletcher has the highest ceiling in terms of starting potential this season. Think of his rough games in 2014 as chips on his shoulder—sources of motivation that will only benefit Fletcher as he begins with a new team.

If Deflategate isn’t the topic of conversation when it comes to the New England Patriots these days, then it’s the cornerback position. For more on the subject, see the re-ordered the cornerback depth chart after the signing of Tarell Brown.

Next: Ravens, Colts want Brady to stay suspended