The mandatory phase of the New England Patriots' offseason workouts is over – at least until training camp starts in late July – and we have re-entered the quieter 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 rookie cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc.
Name: Cre’von LeBlanc
Jersey number: 35
Size: 5'9, 190 lbs.
2015 review: Cre’Von LeBlanc consistently improved over his four years at Florida Atlantic; his 2015 senior season was his best. He appeared in 12 games as a starting cornerback and kick returner for the Owls and finished the season as a team captain, second team All-Conference USA and defensive MVP as voted by his team.
Statistically, LeBlanc had a good season both on defense and special teams. He led the conference with four interceptions and added 43 tackles and 11 passes defensed to his resume. Furthermore, he returned 17 kickoffs for 387 yards and five punts for 30 yards.
But despite posting solid numbers, Blanc went undrafted in 2015 – in part because of a rather pedestrian 4.65 40-yard dash. On May 1st, the Patriots signed the free agent together with fellow cornerbacks Jonathan Jones and V’Angelo Bentley.
2016 preview: As things currently stand, LeBlanc’s chances of making the Patriots do not look good given the depth New England has at the cornerback position and his status as an undrafted rookie. Still, that doesn’t mean that he won’t be able to surprise and beat out his competition.
One thing seems sure: he won’t go down without a fight. LeBlanc has reportedly looked good during the Patriots’ five practices open to the media, showing tight coverage and looking comfortable competing at NFL speed. If he is able to take this momentum into the summer and continue to compete once pads come on, his chances of surviving roster cuts naturally increase.
Realistically, however, LeBlanc’s best bet of staying in Foxboro is as a member of the Patriots’ practice squad – after all, he has some talent to build upon both on defense and special teams. As of right now, though, it would be a surprise if he can earn a spot on the 53-man roster behind locks Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and Cyrus Jones.
The Patriots have a lot of talented, young depth at the cornerback position. Unfortunately, though, not every member of that depth chart can make the team. Due to the nature of this numbers game seeing Cre’von LeBlanc survive it would be a surprise.
However, as his solid spring shows, if he makes the best out of his snaps he might just be able to earn himself a spot on the Patriots – either on the 53-man roster or, more likely, the practice squad.