Minicamp is officially over. This means that the mandatory phase of the New England Patriots' offseason workouts is over as well – at least until training camp starts in late July. Until then, we have re-entered the quiet parts of the NFL calendar.
However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop. After all, by late August, each team has to start making its roster cuts. Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we'll take a look at cornerback Darryl Roberts.
Name: Darryl Roberts
Jersey number: 27b
Size: 6'0, 190 lbs.
2015 review: Last year, the Patriots drafted eleven players. The tenth one they took – with the 30th pick in the seventh round – was a cornerback out of Marshall: Darryl Roberts.
Despite his draft status, Roberts saw valuable snaps over the course of the summer, displaying impressive athleticism, competitiveness and good ball skills. At one point, he even looked like a realistic option to fill the starting vacant spot opposite new number one cornerback Malcolm Butler.
His chances of making New England's roster looked really good until the first preseason game. Roberts, who started the contest against the Green Bay Packers, injured his wrist early in the game after recording five tackles.. The injury forced the Patriots to place him on injured reserve – thus ending a rookie season that began very promising.
2016 preview: The Patriots have three roster locks at cornerback: starters Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan, as well as rookie second round pick Cyrus Jones. If he wants to join the trio, then Roberts needs to build upon his 2015 offseason and establish himself as the fourth or fifth option at the position.
Given the competition he faces this is easier said than done: the 25-year old competes against veterans Justin Coleman and E.J. Biggers as well as rookies V'Angelo Bentley, Jonathan Jones and Cre'Von LeBlanc. While he has one major advantage over all of them but Coleman – experience within the Patriots' system –, Roberts needs to make use of it and in turn the best out of every snap he gets.
He did it last summer before his injury. If he wants to survive the crowded battle for New England's remaining cornerback spots, he needs to do it again this year. Otherwise, he might not only find himself off the Patriots' roster but, given the depth and youth at the position, the practice squad as well.
As things currently stand, Darryl Roberts' chances of surviving the cornerback competition look solid based on his very good pre-injury 2015 and his experience. The fifth spot behind the three locks and Coleman seems to be his to lose.
However, if Roberts isn't able to continue his growth and outplay his fellow defensive backs, then his future in Foxboro is in danger. After all, the Patriots are very deep at cornerback. They can afford to let those who do not perform go – no matter the potential they might have shown only year ago.