New England Patriots Digest: All about the rookies

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Malcolm Mitchell
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Malcolm Mitchell /

This week’s Patriots Digest is all about last year’s rookies. See who stood out in their first season and who’s got a chip on their shoulder as a sophomore.

By this time next month, the New England Patriots will have begun training camp. For players who aren’t guaranteed a roster spot, training camp is the longest and toughest job interview they’ll ever have.

It’s also a great time for rookies to start standing out among their peers. A good showing in camp can get you on the field during the preseason and a good showing during the preseason can earn you roster spot.

Speaking of rookies, let’s take a look at how last season’s first-year players fared in 2016.

5 Rings, 5 Things

Five things you need to know.

  • Musket Fire’s Nick Ziegler touches on Stephon Gilmore’s mindset heading into the 2017 season.
  • ESPN’s Mike Reiss believes Tom Brady’s best football is brought out by a tortured division rival.
  • Will Bill Belichick pursue a career in modeling after football? New England’s head coach is featured on the cover of Nantucket Magazine’s 15th-anniversary issue.
  • Former Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward isn’t a very big fan of Tom Brady. NESN’s Cameron McDonough has the story.
  • As if his fifth Super Bowl wasn’t enough, Tom Brady earned the top spot on NFL Networks’ ‘Top 100 Players of 2017‘.

2016 Patriots Rookie Rankings

Which of New England’s 2016 draft picks had the best season?

  1. OG Joe Thuney – 3rd round, 78th overall
    In his first season with Patriots, Joe Thuney started all 16 of New England’s regular season games as well as the team’s three postseason contests. In addition to never missing a start, from Weeks 1 to 13, Thuney played every single one of New England’s offensive snaps.
  2. LB Elandon Roberts – 6th round, 214th overall
    Elandon Roberts surpassed sixth-rounder expectations with five starts in 13 games, 45 total tackles, and one forced fumble. Roberts will be a key player in New England’s defense this fall.
  3. WR Malcolm Mitchell – 4th round, 112th overall
    For most, Malcolm Mitchell became a fan favorite for his wholesome work off the football field. That being said, his 32 grabs for 401 yards and four touchdowns only increased his fanbase.
  4. QB Jacoby Brissett – 3rd round, 91st overall
    Jacoby Brissett put on a good showing in relief of injured quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. In his two starts, Brissett had 308 yards passing, 71 yards rushing, and one touchdown run.
  5. DT Vincent Valentine – 3rd round, 96th overall
    In his first game as a Patriot, Vincent Valentine dropped Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer for a three-yard loss. He finished his rookie season with three starts in 13 games, 19 total tackles, and a single sack.
  6. OG Ted Karras – 6th round, 221st overall
    Ted Karras started the first game of his rookie season at right guard for the Patriots. It was his only start of the year but he was active for the remaining fifteen regular season games.
  7. CB Cyrus Jones – 2nd round, 60th overall
    Despite being the New England’s top draft pick, Cyrus Jones had a disappointing rookie season. In 10 games, Jones had 226 yards combined as a returner and five fumbles. If he can crack the roster, Jones will have plenty of doubters to prove wrong in 2017.
  8. WR Devin Lucien – 7th round, 225th overall
    Devin Lucien was cut ahead of the 2016 season and signed with the Patriots practice squad.
  9. S/LB Kamu Grugier-Hill – 6th round, 208th overall
    Like Lucien, Kamu Grugier-Hill didn’t make the Patriots 53-man roster. He spent his rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Best Rookie Performances of 2016

Which first-year player had the best game?

  1. Week 12: Malcolm Mitchell vs. the New York Jets
    After posting 98 yards and his first career touchdown grab against the 49ers a week before, Malcolm Mitchell had two touchdowns and 42 yards on five catches versus the division rival Jets in Week 12.
  2. Week 16: Elandon Roberts vs. the New York Jets
    Elandon Roberts finished the Patriots’ 41-3 Week 16 clobbering of New York with five solo tackles and six assisted. Roberts played in 50% of the team’s defensive snaps, his third highest percentage all season.
  3. Week 3: Jacoby Brissett vs. the Houston Texans
    Following Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury in Week 2, Jacoby Brissett was thrust into action for the Pats’ Week 3 contest versus the Houston Texans. Brissett finished 11-for-19 with 103 yards passing and 48 yards rushing along with his first career rushing touchdown.

Next: Patriots Digest: AFC Dark Horses, Pats who got away

Player of the Day: OG Shaq Mason #69

New England’s 2017 season is only 69 days away.

The New England Patriots drafted guard Shaq Mason with the 131st pick in the 2015 draft. Like Tony Garcia and Conor McDermott this spring and Joe Thuney and Ted Karras 2016, Mason was one of two offensive linemen chosen by New England in 2015. While Tre’ Jackson is no longer a member of the team, Mason’s become a crucial component to the Patriots offensive line.

While Tre’ Jackson is no longer a member of the team, Mason’s become a crucial component to the Patriots offensive line. In two seasons, Mason has 25 starts in 30 games plus five in the playoffs.

Check back next Friday for another edition of Patriots Digest.