Steve Gregory should start opposite Patrick Chung at safety in 2012.
Patrick Chung, #25: Chung enters his fourth season in 2012, and is the top option at safety, regardless of whether he is playing "free" or "strong." Chung is undoubtedly talented - staying healthy will be the key for him in 2012.
Steve Gregory, #28: Gregory, 29, is an experienced free agent pick-up who spent the first six years of his career with the San Diego Chargers. While he isn't a Pro Bowl talent, Gregory is solid in all phases of the game, and should be a starter opposite Chung in 2012.
Tavon Wilson, #27: Wilson, the second round pick out of Illinois, could project to have a significant role with the Patriots in 2012. He has the potential to be a force in sub-packages, as a hybrid safety, who can also mimic a linebacker and play close to the LOS as a cornerback/star. Wilson's development will be key to the position's future.
James Ihedigbo, #44: Ihedigbo is a veteran who is best served in run support and as a situational blitzer. Will likely play on running downs to hide deficiencies in pass coverage, Ihedigbo is also a key special teams player who has a good shot at making the final roster.
Josh Barrett, #30: Barrett began the 2011 season as the starter at free safety opposite Chung. He's big, athletic, and strong, but hasn't been able to see the field for the better part of two seasons due to injury. He's a dark horse candidate to make the final roster, but is placed behind James Ihedigbo on the depth chart for now.
Rest of the depth chart after the jump!
Sergio Brown, #31: Although he flashed potential as an every down safety during his rookie campaign, Sergio Brown struggled when he saw the field with the regular defense in 2011. That being said, Brown was one of the Patriots' very best special teams players last season. Because of that, it's tough to count him out. If he makes the final roster, it will be solely because of his prowess on that unit.
Ross Ventrone, #35: While Ventrone has quickly become a fan favorite due to his terrific flow and constantly shifting status on the team's roster, his chances to make the final roster in 2012 aren't too great at this point. Nonetheless, Ventrone has proven to be resilient, and if he makes the roster, it will likely because he proves himself to be indispensable on special teams.
Malcolm Williams, #41: After being selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2011 draft, Williams shifted between the 53 and the practice squad for much of the season, before finally being signed to the active roster for the playoffs. He ended up playing in all three postseason games for the Patriots. Like Ventrone, Williams will have to prove himself on special teams in order to make the Patriots final roster.
Nate Ebner, #43: Ebner is an All-Pro caliber rugby star, but is currently a project as an NFL safety. However, the Patriots certainly knew that when they drafted him in the sixth round out of Ohio State in April. Ebner's H/W/S are intriguing and he could likely contribute immediately on special teams. If the Patriots opt to keep him on their 53, it's likely because they don't think he will pass through waivers unclaimed.
Who will be the Patriots' fourth safety in 2012?
James Ihedigbo (206 votes)
Josh Barrett (80 votes)
Sergio Brown (29 votes)
Nate Ebner (166 votes)
Ross Ventrone (20 votes)
Malcolm Williams (7 votes)
508 total votes