The New England Patriots‘ 2016 training camp is underway. Players fight for practice repetitions and playing time to earn one of the 53 spots on the roster. They have until late August, when each team has to start making its roster cuts, to secure a role.
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 continue the series with defensive end Geneo Grissom.
Name: Geneo Grissom
Position: Defensive end
Jersey number: 92
Size: 6’4, 265 lbs.
2015 review: The Patriots invested a third-round selection (pick #97) in Grissom during the 2015 NFL draft. The Oklahoma product did not play a major role on defense during his rookie year, though, and was mainly used as a depth option behind Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich.
Overall, Grissom was active for 14 of New England’s 18 games, being a healthy stretch the other four weeks (among them both playoff games), and played a mere 10.4% of the team’s defensive snaps: 130 of 1,249. He finished his rookie campaign with six tackles and one sack, while adding three quarterback hits, one pressure and a pass breakup.
Grissom’s major contributions came on special teams: he played 12 more snaps in the kicking game than on defense. The rookie was serviceable in the third phase of the game but also had one noticeable lapse in week 13, when he missed his assignment and allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to block a punt.
2016 preview: Despite being drafted in the third round last year, Grissom is no lock to make the Patriots’ roster, especially considering that linebacker Shea McClellin has experience on the defensive edge as well. His chances are solid, though, given his versatility and special teams experience.
Currently, Grissom is the Patriots’ number five option on the defensive end depth chart. His major competition for defensive playing time are fellow 2015 draft pick Trey Flowers and offseason acquisition Chris Long; both of whom has had solid training camps so far. Grissom’s, for comparison has been quiet, although he has been used as a core player on the kickoff coverage teams.
While he was buried on the depth chart his rookie campaign, Grissom has the tools to make a second-year jump and solidify his standing on the roster – and maybe even become a valuable rotational player on the edge. But even if he fails to crack the defensive rotation, his special teams work might be enough to earn him a spot on the team.
When he was drafted, Geneo Grissom was considered a developmental option. So far, his development has mostly happened behind the scenes but that does not mean that the 24-year old cannot become a contributor on a deep 2016 Patriots roster. After all, he offers versatility and upside on both defense and special teams.