Rating the Pats' position groups

BaseballJones

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Oct 1, 2015
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Two categories to consider: (1) top-end talent, and (2) quality depth. Here's how, on a 1-5 scale (5 being best), I'd rank each position group as of right now - understanding that things can/will change.

QB
Top-end talent: 5 (Brady is elite)
Quality depth: 3 (Hoyer is a modest veteran backup and Stidham has ability but who really knows)

RB
Top-end talent: 4 (Michel is terrific, White is a phenomenal pass-catcher)
Quality depth: 4 (Harris a talented rookie, Burkhead is a do-everything player, and Develin a great blocker)

TE
Top-end talent: 1 (There's just no star to be found at all)
Quality depth: 3 (It feels like a group of useful players, all are capable of being helpful but none are great)

WR
Top-end talent: 5 (IF everything breaks right...Gordon is a stud, Edelman a SB MVP, and Thomas, if he comes back healthy, is still a top-level WR)
Quality depth: 5 (IF everything breaks right...Gordon/Edelman/Thomas/Harry/Dorsett/Harris/Berrios/Patterson offers a lot of versatility)

OL
Top-end talent: 4 (Thuney/Andrews/Mason are an elite inside OL group; Cannon, if healthy, is a pro-bowl caliber player)
Quality depth: 5 (Plenty of quality behind these guys, including the draft picks they just made)

Edge
Top-end talent: 4 (Bennett is still very good; Wise has lots of ability)
Quality depth: 4 (Winovich an exciting rookie, Simon can still play, Rivers has ability too)

Interior DL
Top-end talent: 3 (Guy and Pennel are solid)
Quality depth: 4 (A bunch of good players throughout this position group)

LB
Top-end talent: 4 (Hightower is back to being a stud; Van Noy a solid jack-of-all-trades)
Quality depth: 4 (Addition of Collins, return of Bentley, along with Roberts and maybe Sam)

CB
Top-end talent: 5 (Gilmore an All-Pro, Jackson is terrific, JMac a solid vet)
Quality depth: 5 (Williams a talented rookie, Jones is solid, Crossen is talented, Dawson and Webster still in the mix too)

S
Top-end talent: 4 (DMac still a quality player, Chung is outstanding)
Quality depth: 5 (Harmon may be the best #3 safety in the NFL, Melifonwu an intriguing talent, Brooks has some ability, and Jones proved he could play safety too)

Special teams
Top-end talent: 5 (Ghost and Slater among the very best at their roles in the NFL)
Quality depth: 5 (The Pats emphasize special teams play and they have tons of excellent core special teamers)

So putting this all together, I'd say that here's how the position groups rank:

1. Cornerback (5, 5) - Absolutely loaded
2. Special Teams (5, 5) - Terrific across the board
3. Wide Receiver (5, 5) - IF they are at full strength; if not, this ranking drops considerably
4. Offensive Line (4, 5) - Add in the best position coach in football
5. Quarterback (5, 3) - Brady needs to stay healthy; if he does, then this moves to the top based on how important QB is to a team's success
6. Safety (4, 5) - Nice infusion of youth to complement star veteran leadership
7. Running Back (4, 4) - Quality, depth, and versatility
8. Linebacker (4, 4) - Addition of Collins and return of Bentley really could help a ton
9. Edge (4, 4) - If Winovich meets high hopes, this group could be dominant
10. Interior DL (3, 4) - An unspectacular, but solid, group
11. Tight End (1, 3) - Still could use some help here, and I think they'll be fine when all is said and done, but definitely the weakest position group on the team
 

Super Nomario

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I don't understand the 5,5 for WR at all. Like, why would the top-end talent there be better than at OL or S? I'd probably put that group as a 3, 4 with IDL.

I'm lower on the safety depth than you are; I'm not sure who the number four safety is, and I don't know if they have a Chung backup. I don't give Melifonwu much chance of making the team.
 

BaseballJones

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Oct 1, 2015
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I don't understand the 5,5 for WR at all. Like, why would the top-end talent there be better than at OL or S? I'd probably put that group as a 3, 4 with IDL.

I'm lower on the safety depth than you are; I'm not sure who the number four safety is, and I don't know if they have a Chung backup. I don't give Melifonwu much chance of making the team.
I hear you. I'm going with 5, 5 at WR IF they are healthy and good to go. Edelman is the best "slot" receiver in the game. I put "slot" in quotations because he really plays all over but he's a nightmare matchup in the slot. There's simply nobody in the NFL better at what he does than he is. Gordon is still a top-caliber WR, so if he returns, that's another A-level receiver. And if he's healthy, Thomas is still terrific, though not what he used to be. Of course, it's not prime Welker-Moss, so yeah, maybe 4, 5 instead of 5, 5. Of course, if Gordon doesn't return and Thomas is not a reasonable facsimile of what he has been, then this group's grades go WAY down.

I put them above the OL's top-end grade because we honestly don't know yet what we have at left tackle. And that's an enormous question mark. Everyone is welcome to his own grades, of course.
 

Super Nomario

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I hear you. I'm going with 5, 5 at WR IF they are healthy and good to go. Edelman is the best "slot" receiver in the game. I put "slot" in quotations because he really plays all over but he's a nightmare matchup in the slot. There's simply nobody in the NFL better at what he does than he is. Gordon is still a top-caliber WR, so if he returns, that's another A-level receiver. And if he's healthy, Thomas is still terrific, though not what he used to be. Of course, it's not prime Welker-Moss, so yeah, maybe 4, 5 instead of 5, 5. Of course, if Gordon doesn't return and Thomas is not a reasonable facsimile of what he has been, then this group's grades go WAY down.

I put them above the OL's top-end grade because we honestly don't know yet what we have at left tackle. And that's an enormous question mark. Everyone is welcome to his own grades, of course.
I'm just having trouble reconciling the way you graded these two. LT is a question-mark, but obviously so are Gordon and Thomas. So I'm not sure why you graded WR on its upside but didn't do the same for OL. Personally I would build the uncertainty into both positions; I think your OL grade is fair but I would have WR lower.
 

BaseballJones

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Oct 1, 2015
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I'm just having trouble reconciling the way you graded these two. LT is a question-mark, but obviously so are Gordon and Thomas. So I'm not sure why you graded WR on its upside but didn't do the same for OL. Personally I would build the uncertainty into both positions; I think your OL grade is fair but I would have WR lower.
That’s fair. And this isn’t me arguing but you seemed to want an explanation so here it is. There are questions with both groups. But we KNOW that Gordon, in this system, is a dynamic player. We really don’t know about any of the left tackles on the roster. Yes Wynn is a highly regarded prospect but he’s never played in an NFL game. We KNOW that Gordon is a stud. And I didn’t even really consider Harry in this part of the equation, and he may be better, relatively speaking, than Wynn is.

But I’m cool if you see it the other way.
 

Saints Rest

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I don’t think you can call Gordon a stud. I don’t think he’s in the same league with Brown, Beckham, Jones, Evans, and a few others. At his best with the Pats last season, he’s maybe in the top 10-20, not top 10.
And I think you have to bake in the uncertainty of health (Thomas), rookie-ness (Henry) and Goodell (Gordon).
Thus, I might put WR at 3, 3.
 

SMU_Sox

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Without any camps or practices it's hard to get more than a snapshot at this point with a ton of uncertainty. Here's my my May 17th take on it:
I used .5's in here. If that makes me a bad person I apologize but maybe I am just projecting my anxiety. I figured a .5 would indicate potential upwards.


QB
Top-end talent: 5 An aging goat
Quality depth: 3.5 Hoyer is an average backup who is excellent behind the scenes and with the scout team. Stidham needs time to develop but he is all projection right now. I am more bullish on him than the average person especially now that he is landed here and landing spot is huge for prospects.

RB
Top-end talent: 4.5 This has the potential to be the best RB room in the NFL. Now granted there is risk here and hence the 4.5. Michel needs to develop as a receiver, he needs to stay healthy, Burkhead is always at risk for injury, Harris is a rookie, and White was banged up by the end of the year.
Quality depth: 5 said enough above.

TE
Top-end talent: 2 I think Ben Watson should be ok as a TE1 but not much upside there.
Quality depth: 3 I am counting Develin here instead of running backs. It looks like between Develin, Izzo, Beck, and Watson they should have some blockers but ASJ and LaCosse are total guesses at this point. LaCosse might give you something as a receiver but he's not a sure thing either. I am not sure I see a roster lock here except for Develin.

WR
Top-end talent: 3 DT might play at some point but he isn't going to be healthy this year. Gordon is suspended. Jules is getting older. N'Keal is a rookie. PD is in a make or break year with them (again) but he did flash at times last year. I like Inman quite a bit as WR 3 or 4. If everything breaks right and Gordon comes back, Jules stays healthy, Harry bursts onto the scene and Inman and PD work out as the productive depth guys that's a 5. I could see Inman and PD having solid to career years but also see it not working out. Just losts of uncertainty here.
Quality depth: 4 Inman, PD, Harry are all good depth pieces. Berrios might bring something to the slot. Sincerely hope Jakobi Meyers sticks around either on the roster or, ideally, on the practice squad. He's a guy I'd love to see develop.

OL
Top-end talent: 4.5 They get a 4.5 instead of a 4 because either Wynn or Veldheer will be ok at LT but there is some risk there. They have one of the best interior lines in the league with Thuney - Andrews - Mason, and Cannon is solid.
Quality depth: 5 Veldheer and Cajuste are perfect. Cajuste will be either a backup swing tackle or perhaps the RT or LT of the future if he can stay healthy and develop a bit more. Karras is fantastic depth, and Froholdt might be fighting for a starting position in a year or two.

Edge
Top-end talent: 3.5 MB is v good and I think Simon will line up as the other edge. Simon might be another BB special where an athletic and talented guy is in the wrong system and they develop him. I am bullish on Simon's floor. This group has the potential to be a 4 or 5 if Wino shines as a rookie and Wise, Davis, and/or Rivers takes a leap.
Quality depth: 4

Interior DL
Top-end talent: 3 Guy is great and dependable but with Pennel we need to see what he looks like with more snaps over a full season.
Quality depth: 2 Not much here. Butler doesn't do much for me. Most of their depth reminds me a lot of plywood.

LB
Top-end talent: 4 Hightower and KVN are a fine starting duo and this group has depth with Bentley and with Roberts in a limited role.
Quality depth: 3.5 I think there is a bit more risk here. With Bentley he was looking good but only played 3 games. Collins is older and with more wear on the treads, Hall, Sam, and others are perhaps ST only which is OK because they have room for another ST LB spot. I will say I think our LBs have solid ceilings I just look forward to see which one steps up the most.

CB
Top-end talent: 5 One of the best groups in the league, easy.
Quality depth: 5 Do we really need to discuss this?

S
Top-end talent: 4 DMC and Chung even slowing down just a bit are still good players and one of the more reliable duos in the league.
Quality depth: 3 Harmon is great but who is behind him? What exactly is their plan if DMC and Harmon get hurt? Also, who is Chung's backup? Obi is a binkie but he could also easily be cut mid-camp. Gant is a nice depth piece as SS and more importantly core ST if he makes the roster (unlikely) - I would like to see Gant make the practice squad.

Special teams
Top-end talent: 4.5 Ghost is great but he might need some help on kickoffs as he ages and Allen had a great playoffs but also struggled quite a bit during the regular season. I wouldn't be surprised if our top became Ghost and Bailey by the end of camp. Edit: my only edit - I think Allen and Ghost might be a 4 next year. Concerned about both.
Quality depth: 5 They have quite a few good special teamers. Webster or Crossen might be the next Slater.

Overall:

1. CB (5, 5) - No need to discuss. One of the best in the NFL.
2. QB (5, 3.5) - Brady, Hoyer being a great backup, and Stidham with everyone's favorite thing: upside
3. RB (4.5, 5) - If everything breaks right this is the best RB room in the NFL. Even with mixed results it's still a top 10 unit.
4. OL (4.5, 5) - Between Veldheer and Wynn they will have decent play at LT. One of the best interior OLs in the league, and great depth.
5. Special Teams (4.5, 5) - Risk for Ghost, Allen may be replaced, but great group of core STers
6. LB (4, 3.5) - KVN and High are a fine starting duo and Bentley, Collins, and Roberts, and others offer decent depth.
7. Safety (4, 3) - Top heavy with aging vets and not clear on the depth.
8. Edge (3.5, 4) - MB and Simon are solid starters, depth has high ceilings. This could be a 5, 5 if things break right.
9. Wide Receiver (3, 4) - This is a 5 if Harry breaks out, Jules is healthy and Gordon or DT comes back. Depth is ++.
10. Interior DL (3, 2) - Guy is great and Pennel looks good too but unproven over a full season. Hate the depth here.
11. Tight End (2, 3) - I think one of their guys will step up to be a TE1 with a grade of 2 so below average. I do like their blockers though including Develin here.
 
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