Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them and create a Week 1 countdown-oriented, jersey number-dictated player profile series. Yesterday we looked at No. 25 Daxton Swanson, and the day before that it was No. 26 Logan Ryan. Because today marks 24 days until the New England Patriots open 2015, we are profiling No. 24, cornerback Bradley Fletcher.
Related content: Bradley Fletcher is better than you realize
Selected by the St. Louis Rams in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Fletcher spent four seasons wearing blue and gold before playing for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 and 2014. The Iowa product has started 54 of the 71 regular season games he’s appeared in, recording eight interceptions and 59 passes defended in that span.
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First of all, Fletcher isn’t as bad as everyone says he is. Sure, he caught a lot of flak from the Philly fan base last season for allowing three touchdowns to Dez Bryant in Week 15, only to get toasted multiple times by DeSean Jackson in the following game. In many conversations about today’s cornerbacks, you will hear Fletcher’s name get stomped on a bit.
But what many people don’t realize is that Fletcher actually led the entire NFL with 22 passes defended last season. Further evidence of Fletcher being a capable outside cornerback comes from a piece of information that Football Outsiders provided this offseason:
"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."
Now, I’m not saying it will be easy for Fletcher to make the 53-man roster and having a starting role. In fact, I’d say the odds are against him earning one of the top spots on the depth chart considering the competition he’s up against: Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Tarell Brown, Robert McClain, Darryl Roberts and Daxton Swanson. But don’t disregard the veteran, as he is clearly a good cornerback worthy of a contributing role.
Concluding thought: view Fletcher as a likely candidate to make the team, one who could see time as a starter—and perform well—if the injury but hits the cornerback group.
In case you missed them, here are the profiles for No. 27 Tavon Wilson, No. 28 James White, No. 29 LeGarrette Blount, No. 30 Duron Harmon, No. 31 Tarell Brown, No. 32 Devin McCourty, No. 33 Dion Lewis, No. 35 Jonas Gray, No. 36 Tyler Gaffney, No. 37 Jordan Richards, No. 38 Brandon Bolden, No. 39 Travaris Cadet, No. 41 Dekoda Watson, No. 42 Xzavier Dickson, No. 43 Nate Ebner, No. 44 Matthew Wells, No. 45 D.J. Lynch, No. 46 james Develin, No. 47 Michael Hoomanawanui and No. 48 Geneo Grissom.