3 players who could be nice surprises for Patriots in 2024

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There isn't much optimism regarding the Patriots' chances of doing well during the 2024 season, but they are an improved team from what they were just one year ago.

Not to mention, despite the ugliness of last year, a handful of games were lost by just one score, so if they can play even slightly better this season, there's no reason to believe they can't stack more wins.

Although that's the general hope from New England fans and media, there's also an understanding that this is a team in a rebuild starting from the top. Bill Belichick was let go earlier this year to be replaced by first-time head coach Jerod Mayo.

Much of Mayo's staff is also new, meaning there will be some growing pains this upcoming season. Add in a made-over roster potentially led by a rookie quarterback, and expectations are exceedingly low, as they would be for most teams in that position.

Even with those lowered expectations, it's inevitable that New England fans will be disappointed if the team doesn't perform well, mainly due to their disappointment with how they handled free agency in particular. However, some players could be nice surprises for the team that many may not consider to make much of an impact.

3 players who could be nice surprises for Patriots in 2024

Keion White

In the draft that would become Bill Belichick's final one as the head coach and general manager of the Patriots, one of the more praised selections was defensive end Keion White in the second round.

The defense continued to be the better part of the team, and in wanting to keep that going, Belichick made sure to bring more help to the defensive line early on.

Matthew Judon had become the face of the pass rush since signing with the team in 2021, and unfortunately, he had predominately carried the weight of getting to opposing quarterbacks on his own. White's addition meant he would have a potential partner in crime as soon as the upcoming season, but that's not what happened.

White had some flashy moments during the season, especially in the second half when many players rose to the occasion of stepping up in Judon's absence. Others outshined the rookie though, and his first season was far from impressive.

He recorded 26 combined tackles, three tackles for a loss, five quarterback hits, three passes defended, and one sack. It wasn't what the team needed from him, nor did it live up to the hype that began from his selection, but with a season under his belt heading into this year, it should make a world of difference for his production.

On top of experience benefitting White, the return of Judon into the lineup will also. The veteran has been a great mentor for the team's other linebackers and defensive ends over the last three years, and we saw how much his wisdom could help the younger guys from seeing Joshua Uche explode during the 2022 season.

The same could happen for White this year, coupled with his determination to succeed, playing in his more natural position, and the opportunity to become a solid number two for Judon; it feels like he could be a surprise awaiting to shine in 2024.