Patrick Chung already announced his retirement earlier this offseason, and soon-to-be 34-year-old Devin McCourty might follow him in a year or two. The times are changing for the New England Patriots’ safety group, and last year’s investments are a sign of that: the team added Adrian Phillips in free agency and later also selected Kyle Dugger in the second round of the draft.
While the two have played some promising football alongside McCourty during the 2020 season, the question is whether or not the team views the tandem as a long-term solution at the position. If not, the Patriots will likely not shy away from adding another safety in this year’s draft — and if they do Trevon Moehrig might be a name to keep in mind.
Name: Trevon Moehrig
School: Texas Christian (Junior)
Opening day age: 22
2020 stats: 10 games (10 starts); 47 tackles (2 tackles for loss); 41 targets, 20 receptions, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, 11 pass breakups
Size: 6005, 202 lbs, 73 3/8 wingspan, 30 5/8 arm, 9 3/4 hand
Workout numbers: 4.50 40-yard dash, 33 vertical, 4.19 short shuttle, 14 bench press
Expected round: Late 1st-Early 2nd
Doubt it would a popular pick to take another safety early, but I'd sign up for Trevon Moehrig & Kyle Dugger patrolling the #Patriots' secondary for awhile.— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) March 25, 2021
Moehrig can do it all. Deep safety range/ball skills, driving the flats, match/man coverage, run support. Impressive. pic.twitter.com/8xU9ckegS2
Strengths: Moehrig is a capable deep-field defender who has shown a good understanding of route distribution concepts and who possesses the necessary reactionary skills to serve as the last line of defense. He has shown good versatility, regularly moving between the free safety, slot cornerback and box defender positions — all while also offering considerable upside in the kicking game. He uses his length well to time his jumps and make plays for the ball when in coverage.
In general, Moehrig has shown a knack for locating the football in both the passing and the running game: he registered seven interceptions and 28 pass breakups, and also forced two fumbles while registering one recovery during his three seasons at TCU. He also is a tone-setter in the secondary both due to his physical play when attacking downfield and because of his leadership. Moehrig was named a team captain in 2020.
Weaknesses: While Moehrig does have some good size at 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, he might have to add some muscle to consistently compete against NFL-caliber athletes. His strength is nothing to write home about, which might limit his projection at the next level to more of a deep-field defender. His straight-line speed is serviceable but he lacks the necessary explosion and flexibility — and thus recovery ability — you would ideally want out of your single-high safety.
Moehrig’s aggressiveness in the backend is something that needs to be addressed. He has a quick processor but sometimes overshoots his intended targets, causing issues in terms of coverage angles or tackling form versus the run. He is a pro-ready player but needs some refinement before becoming a safety you would want on the field regardless of situation.
Why the Patriots? As noted above, New England’s secondary is undergoing a transformation process: outside of Kyle Dugger and maybe the hyper-versatile Jalen Mills the team does not have a safety under contract beyond the 2021 season. Adding Moehrig to the mix would allow the Patriots to train him behind McCourty as a rookie and ideally have him take over a starting role in 2022. A Dugger-Moehrig tandem would lock down the backfield for years to come.
Why not the Patriots? New England already invested a second-round pick in Kyle Dugger last spring, and has more pressing needs heading into the upcoming season. There is also no guarantee impending free agents Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips will indeed leave in 2022. Furthermore, versatile defensive backs such as Jalen Mills, Joejuan Williams and Myles Bryant also could be moved to safety full-time to hold down the fort alongside Dugger.
What would be his role in New England in 2021? The Patriots’ top-three at safety are well set with Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips all projected to again play starter-level roles in the team’s nickel and dime looks. Moehrig would likely see limited exposure compared to those three but play a package-specific role while simultaneously learning the ins and outs of New England’s scheme. The goal has to be to get him ready for a more prominent role after his rookie season.
What would be his role in New England beyond 2021? With Kyle Dugger a realistic candidate to take over either the deep or box safety role in 2022, Moehrig would fill the other vacancy in the starting lineup. In an ideal world, he and Dugger would serve as a multi-faceted safeties capable of changing looks and alignments on a play-to-play basis — thus further helping the Patriots’ defense become a positionless unit.
Does he have positional versatility? Yes. Moehrig, as outlined above, played numerous roles in the Horned Frogs’ scheme over the years. He had plenty of man match responsibilities from the slot, but also has a little bit of experience playing more traditional strong or free safety roles. His ability to play numerous spots in the Patriots’ secondary would be dependent on his learning curve, but he certainly has the athletic abilities and conceptual understanding to be used in more than one fashion.
What is his special teams value? Moehrig was voted TCU’s special teams MVP as a true freshman in 2018 after leading the team with six tackles in the kicking game. Especially early on in his pro career he projects to play a similar role: Moehrig should be used on both kickoff and punt coverage teams from Day 1, and maybe also help out on the two return squads.
Which current Patriots will he have to beat out? Given that he is projected as a late first- or early second-round pick, Moehrig would not have to worry about making New England’s 53-man roster this year. In terms of playing time, however, he would probably compete primarily against Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger — even though the latter could become a 100-percent defender for New England this year. Moehrig also would likely be challenged by the three players mentioned above: Jalen Mills, Joejuan Williams and Myles Bryant have all aligned in safety positions as well in the past.
Verdict: While it would likely not be a popular pick among fans, Moehrig is a good fit for what the Patriots are building in their secondary. As such, he should not be ruled out as a potential target early on in the draft — one that would help further strengthen the foundation of the unit for years to come.