The New England Patriots may not have the most recognizable roster that some would connect with the best team of this decade. They know what they are looking for in their players and they go get them. They have a sense of when the value of a player has peaked and they get rid of them then and move on to the next player.
Here are the best players on the Patriots roster and some predictions for this season.
Best Skilled Offensive Player
Brady is often called the “greatest of all-time” and the numbers and accolades prove he deserves to be in the discussion. He isn’t the greatest athlete but has very good accuracy and arm strength. What really standout about Brady are the intangible things that make him an elite quarterback. He is a winner, leader and clutch performer. In his 16 seasons starting 12 games or more, Brady has led the league in completion percentage (one time), passing yards (three), passing touchdowns (four), quarterback rating (two), QBR (two), fourth-quarter comeback victories (two) and game-winning drives (two). Brady has been named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week (30 times), First-Team All-Pro (three), Pro Bowl (13), Super Bowl MVP (four), AP MVP (three), PFWA MVP (three), Bert Bell Award (one), AP Offensive Player of the Year (two), AP Comeback Player of the Year (one) and NFL’s Top 100 list (eight, all in the top five).
Best Offensive Lineman
The Patriots do not have a lot of household names on the offensive line. However, Mason is one of the best interior blockers in the league. He has come a long way from the fourth-round draft pick that played in Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense. He had very little experience as a pass blocker, which is a big part of the Patriots offense. He has started 41 of 46 games played over his three seasons in the NFL. He missed two games as a rookie in 2015 but hasn’t missed a game since. He hasn’t earned the accolades yet but is in line for a huge contract next offseason.
Best Pass Rusher
The Patriots struggled to get to the quarterback last season. That was the biggest weakness and it cost them in the Super Bowl. The Eagles, led by Nick Foles, where able to move the ball up and down the field with very little resistance. The Patriots hope to get internal improvement from Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Derek Rivers, but also went out and got one of the best pass rushers available in free agency. Clayburn has been inconsistent in his career, but he recorded a career-high 9.5 sacks last season. He has 30 career sacks in 81 games and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week once. Clayburn may finally have finally reached the potential of his size and speed last season. The Patriots need him to continue his play from last season.
Best Pass Defender
Gilmore was a bit of a surprise pick by the Bills at the 10th pick in the 2012 draft. However, he quickly showed off his size, speed and athleticism. He became a No. 1 shutdown cornerback on an average defense in Buffalo. When he reached free agency in 2017. He cashed in with a long-term deal with the Patriots. It was a bit of a surprise because cornerback wasn’t a big area of need for the Patriots. He stepped in and was really good. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2016 with a career-high five interceptions.
Kyle Van Noy
Van Noy was a high-upside second-round pick of the Lions in 2014. However, he struggled to get on the field in two-plus seasons in Detroit. When he did, he didn’t make a lot of plays. During the 2016 season, he was traded to the Patriots. Last season, he started 12 of 13 games and had a career-high 73 combined tackles and 5.5 sacks. He projects to start from the outset of the season this year and should be able to easily pass his career-highs in several statistical categories.
Best New Addition
When Nate Solder signed with the Giants as a free agent in March, there was a major question mark at left on the Patriots offensive line. They drafted Isaiah Wynn in the first round, but he should probably play inside at guard. During the draft, the sent a draft pick to the 49ers for Brown and a later draft pick. Brown is massive at 6-feet-8-inches tall and 380-pounds. He was called the “best right tackle in the National Football League” by Von Miller last preseason as well as the “best pass protection tackle” that Kyle Shanahan has ever seen. If he can play at the same level of Solder, the Patriots have a very important piece of the offensive line.
Not So Out On A Limb Prediction
The Patriots will win the AFC East.
The Patriots are the best team in the AFC East. There is no courage thinking the Patriots will win the AFC East for the 10th straight season. That’s all needs to be said.
The Patriots will lose at home in the playoffs.
While predicting the regular season is easy to say the Patriots will win, the playoffs are another story. They will cruise to another first-round bye in the playoffs. But, when a winner of the wild-card round comes to Gillette Stadium, the Patriots will see their season end. Brady has struggled against the elite pass rushers of the league. He likely will see one of the best duos in the league in the divisional round and it will not go well. The Patriots will have a new storyline to stew about this offseason.