The New England Patriots have taken their already-great offense and injected it with an extra blue chip receiver and a solid back-up tight end. The Patriots second-stringers would still be the best offense in the AFC East and the team is built for both now and the future.
The Patriots are old at quarterback and wide receiver, yet there is starting caliber talent waiting in the wings. There is a clear hole at running back and the tight ends are often injured.
That’s all okay. The Patriots will continue to forge their own offensive identity with three blue chip receivers and two dynamic receiving backs. Will the Patriots even have to run the ball again?
1) Tom Brady; 2) Jimmy Garoppolo; 3) Jacoby Brissett
Brady is the starter, yet Garoppolo could probably start for 10 other franchises right now. The Patriots could still trade Garoppolo to the Browns before the NFL Draft- there has to be a reason why the Patriots traded out of the first and second round, while the Browns are accumulating first and second round picks, right?- and the Patriots would probably add a veteran to compete with Brissett in camp.
Ideally, the Patriots would want Brissett to be ready to back-up Brady and to flash starting-caliber ability, because that would make it much easier for the team to trade Garoppolo. But that’s asking for a lot.
Rushing Back: 1) Dion Lewis; 2) Tyler Gaffney
Receiving Back: 1) James White; 2) D.J. Foster
The Patriots are missing RB LeGarrette Blount and don’t have a big proven between-the-tackles runner. Gaffney is a possible candidate, but he’s not performed in the NFL and can’t be counted on. Lewis would likely see the most carries within this running back group, but he’s a shifty runner and not a power back.
White and Lewis would split time as receivers, while the Patriots could be interested to see what Foster brings to the table while Brandon Bolden remains a free agent.
Players like Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Latavius Murray, Eddie Lacy, Rex Burkhead, or Benny Cunningham could all interest the Patriots.
1) James Develin; 2) Glenn Gronkowski
Develin will be the team’s lead fullback, but Gronkowski might find a way to contribute. He played some tight end in college and could spend time with that group in camp.
1) Julian Edelman; 2) Brandin Cooks; 3) Chris Hogan; 4) Malcolm Mitchell; 5) Danny Amendola; 6) Devin Lucien
The Patriots are stacked with talent at wide receiver (note that I am not including Matthew Slater as a receiver). Edelman and Cooks are two blue chip receivers that will take pressure off one another, while Hogan is one of the best deep ball receivers in the league. All three players can align inside and outside.
Malcolm Mitchell is only used on the outside, but Brady loved him as a red zone target down the stretch and he came up big in the Super Bowl. Danny Amendola is only used in the slot, but he also came up big in the Super Bowl. Look for Amendola to restructure in order to stick around.
1) Rob Gronkowski; 2) Dwayne Allen; 3) Michael Williams; 4) Matt Lengel; 5) Rob Housler
Gronkowski is the third blue chip player in this offense, which I define loosely as players that command attention from multiple defenders. If you do the math, there’s no way for opposing defenses to dedicate multiple defenders to these three, without a player like Lewis or White or Mitchell or Hogan getting wide open.
Allen is also a great red zone threat and can help as a blocker. Williams is a solid blocker, too.
Starters: Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon
Depth: 1) Cameron Fleming; 2) LaAdrian Waddle
The Patriots should bring back their offensive tackles. Solder and Cannon ranked as one of the best tackle tandems in the league and Fleming proved himself to be a viable swing tackle in spot starts on both sides.
Starters: Joe Thuney, David Andrews, and Shaq Mason
Depth: 1) Ted Karras; 2) Tre’ Jackson; 3) Chris Barker; 4) Jamil Douglas; 5) Chase Farris
If Thuney can make the same sophomore leap as Mason, then the Patriots offense will be unstoppable because the line will be impenetrable. Solder, Mason, and Cannon all ranked in the top of their positions, so if Thuney can also become a great player, then Brady will have all the time in the world.
Karras earns top back-up distinction due to his versatility. Jackson needs to prove that he can be healthy enough to take the field.