The New England Patriots have some outstanding players on their roster. Left guard Joe Thuney, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Devin McCourty are all either the best or among the better players in the league at their respective positions.
However, the team also features some talent that can best be described as average — at least according to the parameters created by Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo from Pro Football Focus. On the latest episode of the PFF NFL Podcast, the two unveiled their All-Average team and a pair of Patriots have found their way onto the list: running back Sony Michel and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon.
Both players are projected as starting options for the Patriots heading into 2020, but also seen as average in terms of their performances over the past few years and outlook for the new season by PFF’s standards.
The rationale behind Michel’s inclusion sounds as follows:
The guy that people were trying to give all the credit to for the 2018 Super Bowl run. And all his big runs were the perfect, classic, perfectly blocked runs. The run blocking was spectacular during that run — pretty much just the Chargers game and then a couple plays in the Rams game, but that’s Sony Michel accumulating all the stats but he has not really made guys miss in his two years as a runner, and he’s been very much a product of exactly what was in front of him.
As for Cannon, the following was said about him:
If you go through the course of his career, he started out poor, he did peak and look really good for two or three years, and he’s kind of regressed a little bit. When you take the body of work, Marcus Cannon lands in that spot. Particularly if you take Cannon out of a Dante Scarnecchia environment and say “Alright, somewhere else — what does he look like?”
What does get noted about Cannon and the other offensive linemen included in the team, however, is that average is in fact pretty serviceable in terms of moving the needle on the offensive side of the ball: the difference between a top-tier tackle and an average-performing one is not as big as the one between an average-performing tackle and a poor one. Fielding an average player at the position was described as not necessarily being as troublesome as fielding one at cornerback.
Five other players, who spent time in New England over the course of their careers, are also mentioned: wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, offensive lineman Josh Kline, edge defender Adrian Clayborn, defensive tackle Malcom Brown, and linebacker Jon Bostic.