With the Patriots adding an influx of youth on both sides of the ball the last two seasons, I thought I would start a rookie/sophomore power rankings series as a way to dissect the youth. What I came up with:
1. Patrick Chung, S, #25 | Drafted: 2nd round, 34th overall, 2009 | PR: N/A
It wasn't hard for me to place Chung at the top of the board. Through two weeks, Chung has 22 tackles to lead the team. The second year safety has been all over the field, playing deep, coming up against the run. He seems to be around on every play and has already established himself as one of the top defenders on the Patriots' defense.
2. Sebastian Vollmer, T, #76 | Drafted: 2nd round, 58th overall, 2009 | PR: N/A
Sebastian Vollmer was also an easy one to put near the top of the list. Vollmer is currently starting at right tackle. While I wouldn't classify his play as elite (I saw him get beat once or twice), it has certainly been very solid. It would be hard for Vollmer to knock himself down this list.
3. Devin McCourty, CB, #32 | Drafted: 1st round, 27th overall, 2010 | PR: N/A
Devin McCourty has had a solid two games to begin his professional career. He did a great job shutting down Terrell Owens in week one, and ditto Jericho Cotchery (who's given the Patriots fits in the past) and at times Braylon Edwards week two. With Darius Butler often victimized, McCourty has kept passes away from his side which is certainly a good sign.
4. Aaron Hernandez, TE, #85 | Drafted: 4th round, 113th overall, 2010 | PR: N/A
I had a difficult time deciding between Hernandez and Spikes in this spot. Ultimately, I went with Hernadez who had a break out game in week two against the Jets. Hernandez finished with 101 yards on six catches. His versatility has also been key, with teams such as the Jets being forced to use a cornerback on him (resulting in other mismatches).
5. Brandon Spikes, ILB, #55 | Drafted: 2nd round, 62nd overall, 2010 | PR: N/A
Like Hernandez, Brandon Spikes had a breakout game of sorts against the Jets. With the Patriots working out of the base 3-4 a lot in the early going, Spikes got his snaps and showed what he has to the league, finishing with nine total tackles.
Six through ten (as well as "just missed the cut" after the jump!)
6. Brandon Tate, WR, #19 | Drafted: 3rd round, 83rd overall, 2009 | PR: N/A
Somebody throw Tate the ball! After starting the year with four catches and a kick return touchdown in week one, Tate was targeted just once against the Jets, a play that resulted in a 17 yard gain.
7. Rob Gronkowski, TE, #87 | Drafted: 2nd round, 42nd overall, 2010 | PR: N/A
Somebody throw Gronkowski the ball! Just like Brandon Tate, tight end Rob Gronkowski has suffered from a lack of targets to him. In two games, he's only been targeted three times that I can remember. Two of these were caught; one for a touchdown and one for a 14 yard gain.
8. Ron Brace, DL, #97 | Drafted: 2nd round, 40th overall, 2010 | PR: N/A
A few weeks ago, somebody probably would have laughed if they saw Ron Brace this high on a Patriots rookie/sophomore rookie power ranking list. In fact, many people would have been on the verge of labeling Ron Brace a bust. Now we all look a little bit silly. Ron Brace got himself into camp and in shape, and has been playing the best football of his professional career. Sunday, he was the starting left defensive end in the Patriots' 3-4 alignment and recorded four tackles.
9. Julian Edelman, WR, #11 | Drafted: 7th round, 232nd overall, 2009 | PR: N/A
Julian Edelman has only played a few actual snaps since the Patriots first preseason game where he dominated the Saints. Against the Jets, Edelman had just one catch. Don't worry though, his production should increase this week, so I don't expect him to be ranked 9th for long.
10. Myron Pryor, DL, #91 | Drafted: 6th round, 207th overall, 2009 | PR: N/A
Myron Pryor, a sixth round pick in 2009, is doing a nice job as part of the Patriots defensive line rotation as a sub-rusher in four man lines. While the Patriots didn't run too many sub-packages against the Jets (and may not against the Bills either), Pryor should still figure to be a big part of the rotation in 2010.
Just Missed the Rankings:
Darius Butler, CB, #28 (41st, 2009): Butler had a terrible performance in week two. He should be able to rebound against
Jermaine Cunningham, OLB, #96 (53rd, 2010): Cunningham looked good in limited action during week two, making a couple of nice plays against the run and nearly coming up with a sack.
Zoltan Mesko, P, #14 (150th, 2010): Mesko is likely so low on this list due to his position. While he has a small sample size (4 punts), currently has a very impressive 45.0 NET average.
Brian Hoyer, QB, #8 (undrafted, 2010): 2nd string QB has yet to play in 2010.
Kyle Love, DL, #74 (undrafted, 2010): Has seen limited snaps as a reserve nose tackle.
Jake Ingram, LS, #46 (198th, 2009): Rank is due to position: long snapper.
Brandon Deaderick, DE, #71 (247th, 2010): Has been inactive both games.
Dane Fletcher, LB, #45 (undrafted, 2010): Has been inactive both games.
Tyrone McKenzie, ILB, #53 (97th, 2009): Currently on practice squad.
Rich Ohrnberger, OG, #60 (124th, 2009): Currently on practice squad.
Kade Weston, DL, #66 (248th, 2010): On injured reserve.
Darryl Richard, DL, #90 (234th, 2009): On injured reserve.