The reasoning here is simple: you can’t have enough good cornerbacks on your roster in today’s NFL. It’s good practice to introduce fresh blood into training camp competition at the position each season, so the Patriots should peer into the free agent cornerback market in addition to selecting a cover man in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Pats are all set at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots with Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan impressing in 2015. However, the door is wide open at the No. 3 and No. 4 slots. Justin Coleman, Leonard Johnson and Tarell Brown certainly aren’t locks to make the roster next season; each of those guys have some proving to do over the summer.
If the Patriots are feeling especially aggressive, they could take a swing at Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith, who they were rumored to be interested in at the midseason trade deadline. Or who knows, maybe Morris Claiborne’s career would receive a kick-start in a different defensive system.
Ideally, the Patriots will find another starting-caliber cornerback either through free agency or the draft who they could plug in for an injured Butler or Ryan. The right type of cornerback could start on the perimeter, allowing Ryan to shut down No. 3 wideouts in the nickel.
Next: 1. Wide receiver/tight end