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State of the Patriots: Cornerback

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Players on the Roster:

Leigh Bodden

Darius Butler

Tony Carter

Devin McCourty

Thad Turner

Jonathan Wilhite

Free Agents:

Kyle Arrington (ERFA)

I'll go ahead and say that once the Patriots' re-sign Arrington, I believe that their cornerback position is solid for the next three or four seasons. Bodden will be back to lockdown with McCourty and, even if Bodden isn't at his old form, the Patriots know what they will be getting from Arrington. There will be another season for Butler to prove himself and another season for Wilhite to fight for his roster spot. Keep in mind that the Patriots' cornerbacks were all first year starters for most of the season as Bodden was on the IR and Wilhite was injured.

Let's take a further look after the jump!
I'm a believer in Devin McCourty. I believe that Butler and Arrington provide adequate depth and that we know what they will contribute if they are asked to play next season. We know what Wilhite can do and, even more importantly, what he absolutely cannot do. The biggest question is how Leigh Bodden will return from his injury. 2009 was one of Bodden's finest seasons, but he spent the past season on the injured reserve and has been injured a couple times in the past. How will he rebound from sitting out the whole season? Best case scenario, Bodden plays at his 2009 form and the Patriots have one of the best cornerback tandems in the league with Bodden and McCourty. Worst case scenario, Bodden doesn't recover and the Patriots play with the same secondary in 2011 as they played in 2010.


Here's a quick summary of each player:

Kyle Arrington - Originally a special teams player who emerged as a the #2 cornerback on the depth chart after Butler didn't play up to expectations early in the season. Arrington was average as a cornerback, which is great for what we expected from him, but it's nothing special if we removed our expectations. He struggled against the deep pass, but looks like a pretty good defensive back if he keeps his receiver in the box. He can stop the run and he can take solid angles, but he just struggles to turn his head around. Potential free safety convert?

Leigh Bodden - Spent season on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

Darius Butler - Entered the season with high hopes as a #1 cornerback with Bodden out with injury, but quickly dropped down the depth chart after he was taken advantage of in Week 1 and Week 2. He was a healthy scratch in Week 10, despite Wilhite being placed on the IR. After Week 10, Butler saw more time on the field and played like a solid nickelback, especially as Pat Chung saw his role reduced.

Tony Carter - Won four Practice Player of the Week awards and was promoted at the end of the season to provide depth at the weak cornerback position.

Devin McCourty - All-Pro. Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate. McCourty exceeded the lofty expectations of a first round draft pick and delivered week after week.

Thad Turner - Practice Squad player. One time Practice Player of the Week.

Jonathan Wilhite - Played the first nine games of the season before being injured. Finished the season on the injured reserve, but was missed as Pat Chung couldn't play nickelback at Wilhite's level. Should get another season on the roster, if he recovers.

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Will the Patriots get another cornerback? Probably, in order to push the depth chart in training camp. I wouldn't bet on an early draft pick, but I wouldn't be surprised either.

Best Case 2011 Cornerback Roster:

LCB: Devin McCourty - Darius Butler

RCB: Leigh Bodden - Jonathan Wilhite

NCB: Kyle Arrington

Practice Squad/Camp Bodies: Tony Carter, Thad Turner, Draft Pick