We're at the point of the offseason where everyone is making lists and checking them twice for the 2016 season. CBS Sports' Pete Prisco released his Top 100 Players for 2016 and he was pretty friendly to the New England Patriots.
There were five players to make the list, plus one that just missed the cut at the end. I'll add in my snubs later on.
5. QB Tom Brady:
Brady continued to show why he's an all-time great. He threw for 4,770 yards and 36 touchdown passes as he led the Patriots to the AFC title game. Will he ever start to show signs of age?
Brady features at the top of the list as the 2nd quarterback- behind Packers QB Aaron Rodgers who comes in at #1 overall. He trails a trio of defenders in Texans DL J.J. Watt, Rams DT Aaron Donald, and Broncos ED Von Miller. While Brady undeniably has a bigger impact than those three, they are far and away above their peers at their respective positions and deserve credit.
6. TE Rob Gronkowski:
He had 72 catches, but it's the 16.3 yards per catch that is truly impressive. He had 22 receptions of 20 yards or more, which was fourth best in the league.
RoboGronk is annually the most freakish offensive talent in the entire league. He's unique and has a larger impact than any non-quarterback on the field. He might not do as much damage in the receiving game as receivers like Antonio Brown or Julio Jones, but his run blocking makes him the biggest threat around.
17. LB Jamie Collins:
Collins can cover. He can blitz. He is good in the run game and has the speed to chase down runners. Again, he's another player perfect for the current game.
Collins comes in as the #2 overall linebacker, behind the Panthers' Luke Kuechly. If Collins can put together a full 16 game season, the sky is the limit for his potential because he's the best athlete on the field at all times.
48. LB Dont'a Hightower:
Like Collins, he's another big part of the New England defense. He can run and cover -- not quite like Collins, but he's also a better rusher than Collins.
If you believe Packers LB Clay Matthews will be moving to the outside as an edge defender in 2016, then the Patriots have the #2 and #3 linebackers in the NFL, according to Prisco. That's a fantastic duo.
94. WR Julian Edelman:
He caught 61 passes in nine games last season, but a foot injury limited him for much of the season. His value to their offense is immense.
There's no question that a healthy Edelman takes the offense to another level. The Patriots offense looked like it was unstoppable against the Chiefs in the playoffs, but once Edelman reinjured his foot against the Broncos, everything fell apart. His health is paramount for the Patriots.
Prisco had CB Malcolm Butler in the Just Missed category, which is fair. He'll definitely be in the ranking next season if he puts together a second-consecutive solid season.
Personally, I think the likes of ED Jabaal Sheard and S Patrick Chung deserved consideration, and even S Devin McCourty.
Chung might not be the best player on the defense- don't get me wrong, he is great in his own right- but his versatility allows head coach Bill Belichick the freedom to design myriad defensive schemes with the same personnel. Chung plays slot corner, linebacker, and strong safety with the best of them.
What do you think?