Patriots top 3 players for 2024 season have one thing in common

New England Patriots v New York Giants
New England Patriots v New York Giants / Al Bello/GettyImages

Looking ahead to the 2024 NFL season, the Patriots are not expected to be a dramatically improved team from just one year ago. Because they are in the midst of a rebuild under new head coach Jerod Mayo, the assumption is they will be dealt a similar fate as the 2023 season or might win a game or two more if they get lucky.

Most of the pessimism lies within the offense, especially with so many question marks surrounding who the starting quarterback will be. Despite the various upgrades the new regime has made to the roster, which will inevitably make the offense better, the Patriots are far from being a contender in their division and even further from making a Championship run.

Although that may all be true, one part of the season is expected to be even better than last year, and that's the defense.

They have been the more impressive side of the roster for the last few years, and with the return of Matthew Judon, the newly extended Christian Barmore, and a motivated Joshua Uche all steering the ship, the defense is already believed to be one of the best in the league again.

Since the unit is the reason the Patriots remained in several games or won a few, a new head coach and a new staff that appears to have reinvigorated the team will be a recipe for even more success in the 2024 season.

It's all factors in Pro Football Focus' decision of the team's top three players heading into the new year, as their choices are all members of the Patriots' defense.

Patriots top 3 players for 2024 season have one thing in common

Based on the Patriots' current status, it's not surprising that their top players are all on defense. PFF believes that to be true, choosing three of the team's best-performing players over the last few years to lead the way into the new season.

  1. Matthew Judon
  2. Kyle Dugger
  3. Jabrill Peppers

Interestingly, they note that Mike Onwenu was thought about to rank in the top three, and he was the only offensive player to be considered.

"Offensive lineman Mike Onwenu was an option here, but that’s about it for Patriots offensive players.

Matthew Judon had a down year but is still one of the top players on the team. Jabrill Peppers earned the highest grade of any New England player (87.3), buoyed by a 90.7 run-defense grade and an 83.2 coverage grade. Kyle Dugger also didn’t have a great year, but we know he is better than the 61.7 grade he recorded. Rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez may have been in the mix if not for injury."

Saying Judon had a down year only to say later Christian Gonzalez wasn't put on the list because of injury is certainly a choice, considering the linebacker also suffered a season-ending injury, but it is what it is.

The choices of Dugger, Judon, and Peppers all make sense and should ensure another fantastic season ahead. It would be great to see Dugger live up to his big new contract, and hopefully, we can say the same for Judon by the time Week 1 comes around. It's fair to say he's done above and beyond what was needed to earn an extension, so hopefully, that will come in the next few months.

Peppers has been an impressive player since signing with the team in 2022 and has earned a role as a leader of the defense because of it. An extension for him would also be a wise decision.

It's inevitable that the defense will be the dominant part of the team, and these three players will likely lead the way. It will be fun to see who else rises to the occasion, especially on offense, and becomes the foundation of what the team can be in the future.

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