The New England Patriots have one of the youngest cornerback units in the entire league, which is both a good and a bad thing. It's good because they're cheap and full of endless potential, but the drawback is when that potential isn't realized.
Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan formed one of the best cornerback duos in the league last season, and they will be joined by 2016 2nd round pick Cyrus Jones as roster locks and the likely top three players on the depth chart.
The Patriots generally carry five cornerbacks on the roster and this year should be no different. While it's helpful that safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung can play cornerback in a pinch, the Patriots would rather avoid the situation last year where Tavon Wilson had to play cornerback against the Jets.
So there will likely be two more cornerbacks on the roster, and the Patriots will have plenty of options to choose from.
Justin Coleman served as the team's 3rd cornerback for much of last season, when he wasn't busy being injured, and head coach Bill Belichick sees a lot of potential in him. Darryl Roberts was the Patriots 7th round pick in 2015 and he was close to earning a starting role opposite of Butler before an injury landed him on the injured reserve.
The Patriots have added experienced veteran E.J. Biggers from the Eagles, who will likely serve as a back-up option in case the younger players don't emerge over the offseason.
And then there are four players that could surprise and be the next Malcolm Butler.
The Patriots gave undrafted rookie Jonathan Jones a nice signing bonus to show interest, while fellow undrafted rookie Cre'Von LeBlanc received a third round grade from Pro Football Focus- the same outlet that gave Darryl Roberts a high 2nd round draft grade, so perhaps there's something there.
We can't count out another undrafted rookie in V'Angelo Bentley, who Mike Reiss labeled as a dark horse candidate to be this year's Dion Lewis breakout surprise. The last candidate, Brock Vereen, is a hybrid cornerback/safety who spent the last couple of months in 2015 season on the Patriots practice squad.
Which player do you think will be next on the depth chart?
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%)
Check out our Edge Defender poll here. (Trey Flowers: 52%, Rufus Johnson: 24%,Geneo Grissom: 24%)
Check out our Defensive Tackle poll here. (Joe Vellano: 31%, Frank Kearse: 20%, Only 4 DTs: 20%)
Check out our Linebacker poll here. (Kamu Grugier-Hill: 75%)