7. CB Malcolm Butler
If Butler didn’t do a single positive thing the rest of his NFL career after Super Bowl 49, he would still go down in Patriots history as one of the most revered players ever. However Butler wanted to prove he wasn’t just a one-hit wonder, and he put together an excellent 2015 campaign. He was New England’s number one cornerback following Darrelle Revis’ departure in free agency, and he was simply superb in that role.
Butler was matched up with the number one receiver on the opposing offense more often than not, and he was able to hold his own. Some of the final numbers don’t look great, but he went toe-to-toe with some of the best in the league and aside from maybe getting worked by Eric Decker, he didn’t outright lose any of those battles.
Butler’s athleticism, physicality, route-recognition and ball skills are off the charts, and he has the potential to be one of the best cover corner in the league down the road. Butler is also one of the better tacklers out at cornerback I have ever seen, which is an underrated trait a lot of secondary players don’t have.
Next: Number 6