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Patriots Roster Prediction #42: S Brandon McGowan

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Player Name: S Brandon McGowan

Experience: 5 Years in the NFL, 1 with the New England Patriots

Past Role: McGowan has played the traditional Strong Safety position extremely well while in the NFL. With the Patriots, he was brought into the safety core in order to provide depth behind James Sanders, who had earned a lot of praise over the pre-season, and Brandon Meriweather. However, McGowan managed to impress early in the season and took the starting job from Sanders.

As a strong safety, McGowan was a force against the run, while also getting the job of covering tight ends. He earned the title of "Tight End Stopper" after holding top tight ends like the New York Jets Dustin Keller, and the Atlanta Falcons Tony Gonzalez to very few yards. His season peaked against the Denver Broncos, when he knocked down three passes- even though he was only thrown at twice.

Unfortunately, his season started to slow after a streak against the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints when he gave up big plays to each tight end. While he still protected well against the run, he was proven less capable of covering the more athletic tight ends. Ultimately, McGowan was phased out of the defense in favor of James Sanders, due to Sanders ability to cover the tight ends.

Predicted Role: Despite losing his job to Sanders, McGowan shouldn't be directly competing with him this upcoming season. Sanders, due to his inability to stop the run, will most likely end up behind Brandon Meriweather. McGowan should fight 2nd year player Pat Chung for the starting strong safety job, due to the similarity in their play. McGowan should see increased play time against some of the run oriented teams- like the Jets, Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens- while he should see his play time decrease against the gun slinging teams- like the Colts, Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.

McGowan should provide solid depth at strong safety, but he most likely will end up in the back-up role.

Predicted Season Numbers: 2 Games Started, 16 Games Played. 45 Tackles, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 INT, 1 Sack

Predicted Depth Chart: #2 SS, #4 S

Summary: McGowan should play less in 2010 than he did in 2009, due to the expected emergence of Pat Chung. However, McGowan can and will be called upon against strong running teams due to his run stopping skills. He'll contribute on special teams as well as provide veteran depth behind a young secondary.