The New England Patriots had enough depth at the edge defender position that Bill Belichick felt comfortable shipping away former starter Chandler Jones. Will that move pay off?
Veteran Rob Ninkovich is a lock to make the squad, as are Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long. This trio will take over as the main rotation, with Sheard stepping into Jones' old role, and Long serving as a high-quality passing down threat. All three will be free agents after this season, though, and Belichick would never move forward without a few young players to help with the transition to the future.
The Patriots spent a 2015 3rd round pick on Geneo Grissom, and an early 2015 4th on Trey Flowers. Both might have been outplayed in the preseason by futures contract player Rufus Johnson.
Grissom offers slightly more value on special teams, averaging roughly 9 special teams snaps per game. It's not unheard of for Belichick to cut a 3rd round player after one season (today is actually the birthday of 2008 3rd round quarterback Kevin O'Connell, who lasted one year in New England), but it's very rare.
It's also easy to overstate that draft stock because Grissom was selected a mere four picks prior to Trey Flowers. Flowers had an excellent start to his preseason, outplaying Grissom, before a shoulder and knee injury landed him on the injured reserve.
That said, I would rank Grissom as more of a lock due to his special teams value, since Flowers offered none.
It wouldn't be unheard of for the Patriots to carry six edge defenders- they did it for stretches of last season- but the team typically carries five players at the position.
Which edge defenders will make the team?
Check out our Running Back poll here. (James White: 26%, D.J. Foster: 25%, Donald Brown: 24%)
Check out our Wide Receiver poll here. (Devin Lucien: 40%, Nate Washington: 34%)
Check out our Tight End poll here. (Clay Harbor: 63%)
Check out our Interior Offensive Line poll here. (David Andrews: 46%, Tre Jackson: 36%)
Check out our Offensive Tackle poll here. (Joe Thuney: 42%, Marcus Cannon: 33%)