3. Elandon Roberts-LineBacker
Possibly one of the most exciting players of the 2016 draft class is Elandon Roberts. The rookie linebacker from Houston may turn out to be a 6th round steal for the Patriots. In his limited time on the field he has proven to be effective, accumulating 12 solo and 8 assisted tackles. Considering he is only on the field for 23% of the snaps those are good numbers.
It only takes a quick look at his college stats to see this should not be a surprise. Last year he was the leading tackler in the nation with 88 solo tackles. To see his game transfer to the NFL so quickly is a very promising sign. While he is not the most athletic linebacker on the Patriots, he has a knack for getting to the ball.
While his pure speed his good, his change of direction was noted to be an issue for the scouts. This led to doubts about his cover ability against NFL receivers. What we can take away from this, and his use so far as a Patriot, is that his emphasis and best use will be stopping the run first. While he was on the field against the Bills they averaged fewer yards per rush than with Jamie Collins.
Looking forward Elandon Roberts role will not only become bigger but also more important. With the surprising trade of Jamie Collins the Patriots no longer have one of their two every down linebackers. While Barkevious Mingo will also get a share of the snaps, Roberts will be the main man on running downs. Expect Roberts to make a bigger impact each week as he gets more playing time and gains experience. The Patriots would not have traded Collins if they didn’t think Roberts could make the leap, so keep a close eye on his play to see if they were right.