New England Patriots: Re-Evaluating Position Battles

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Aug 13, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) runs the ball against New England Patriots linebacker James Morris (49) and corner back Robert McClain (22) during the first half in a preseason NFL football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports


Key Takeaway: Malcolm Butler is the man

After losing Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Kyle Arrington this offseason, a lot of Patriots fans were freaking out about the state of this secondary. And while I acknowledge that they will not be nearly as good this year as they were in 2014, I was never that worried about this group, mainly because of two people: Devin McCourty, and last year’s Super Bowl hero, Malcolm Butler.

If you actually watched Butler play last season, you could tell this kid had talent. Sure, he was raw, but with some development, I thought he could turn into a top corner in this league. And after one preseason game, not only does he look the part, but the Patriots obviously view him as their number one guy.

As Rich Hill talked about here, it appears Robert McClain has firmly entrenched himself as the nickel corner, which only leaves a few slots open in the defensive backfield. Butler will be starting, and despite a bad performance against Green Bay, Logan Ryan will probably grab the other starting spot. So between Darryl Roberts, Bradley Fletcher, and Tarell Brown, who will snag those last two spots?

Before he got injured on Thursday, Roberts was impressing me the most. He was physical, aggressive, and tough in coverage, which are traits you would like to see in a rookie scrapping for a roster spot. Fletcher also wasn’t bad, although I would not want him singled up on a top wideout in the regular season (see Dez Bryant). Brown just can’t seem to stay healthy, so as of this moment, he might be the man that has to be cut before week one.

Next: Running Back