New England Patriots: Elandon Roberts predicted as breakout prospect

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 12: Chris Long (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 12: Chris Long (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

With the NFL season right around the corner, ESPN recently released their list of potential breakout candidates. Who made their list from the New England Patriots?

In the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected linebacker Elandon Roberts from Houston.

In typical Patriots fashion, Roberts has already developed into a key contributor for the team. Coming into the 2016 season, Roberts wasn’t projected to have much of a role, but he was able to work hard throughout camp and into the regular season to earn more time.

Roberts finished the 2016 season with 34 solo tackles, one forced fumble and three tackles for loss. Considering how quickly Roberts developed as a rookie is certainly encouraging for the Patriots moving forward.

New England has a knack for finding talent and then developing it. Here’s what ESPN had to say about ranking Roberts fifth on their prospects to break out list.

"A big reason why Jamie Collins was traded to the Browns was the quick development of Roberts, who started sliding into Bill Belichick’s defensive packages sooner than anticipated. Roberts didn’t time or test well in the pre-draft process, but he was highly regarded at Houston as both a leader and a playmaker after he helped lead the Cougars back to national prominence. He reeled off 19 tackles for loss and six sacks, along with five passes defended in 14 games."

Seeing some of the names in front of Roberts is certainly eye-opening. The No.1 player on the list was Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs. Hill burst on to the scene last season with his blazing speed, and he will be a featured weapon in the Chiefs’ offense this season.

The list is made by ESPN to highlight players that might have flown under-the-radar thus far in their careers. Even though Roberts is a Super Bowl champion, he likely isn’t known by many people outside of New England. Seeing how well Roberts was ranked on the list, that might be changing very soon.

Next: 4 Standouts from training camp so far

Depth at the linebacker position is certainly something that the Patriots desire. Even though the Patriots added veteran David Harris this offseason, they will still like to feature young linebackers like Roberts.

Having a good mix of veterans and young players is a good formula for success. In 2017, Roberts will certainly be a player to keep an eye on.