The Patriots are coming off of another Super Bowl championship. Like usual, the roster looks a little different than the team that won it all. They lost key guys to free agency, and retirement. But picked up new ones via the draft, and free agency. Bill Belichick knew what holes he needed to fill, and where they needed to add depth, and he went and added it. Here’s the most important guys on the 2019 roster for the Patriots.
10. Ben Watson/Lance Kendricks
The Patriots will be without Gronk this season. His retirement came as a surprise to some, but the Patriots have to deal with him leaving. The Patriots have used tight ends as essential parts in their offense. So the new guys Watson and Kendricks need to be productive. No Patriots fan is asking either one to be the next Gronk for the team. But to be productive pass catchers, and good blockers is not too much to ask. It will definitely be a drop off, but that would be expected with any tight end after Gronk. Brady has experience with Watson already, and we’ll see if the chemistry is still there.
9. Joe Thuney
Thuney has quietly been one of the best, most consistent offensive linemen for the Patriots. He rarely misses snaps, and is out on the field so much for a reason. But Thuney could be moving from the guard spot, to left tackle. Left tackle is arguably the most important offensive position. Having to protect the quarterbacks blindside is not an easy job. But if Thuney can adjust and be as good as he was at guard, the Patriots will be fine. Thuney is moving because of Isiah Wynn coming back from his his Achilles injury he suffered before his rookie year started.
8. N’keal Harry
Harry was the Patriots first round draft pick in 2019. A big change from Bill Belichick, drafting an offensive skill player. Coming after the Sony Michel pick, lets hope it works out similarly. A big, athletics receiver is something Brady does not have very often. With Demaryius Thomas still nursing an injury suffered last season, and Josh Gordon a question mark for the league, Harry could be getting a lot of snaps. The rookie has been working with Tom Brady a lot this offseason, and building chemistry early. Harry could be a big part of the offense if Thomas and Gordon don’t play a lot if at all.
7. Isiah Wynn
Wynn was a first round pick in 2018, but suffered an achilles injury before the season started. Wynn will be filling in at Joe Thuney’s guard spot. Wynn was a first round pick, and when he finally gets cleared for full contact, the Patriots are going to expect him to be good. Wynn was viewed as a starter in his draft analysis, so now after being in the NFL for a league and learning without playing, we get to see if he can put it to the test of professional defensive linemen. Protecting Brady at 42 years old is essential to the Patriots success this year.
6. Sony Michel
The second year running back set himself high expectations last year. One of the best rookie running backs last season, behind Saquon Barkley. Michel has had some small injuries in training camp, but seems to be fine. Michel needs to be able to run the ball well this year. With Brady getting older, it’s very important to not make him throw the ball 40 times a game. I think Brady could throw the ball that much, but if he really wants to prolong his career, a good run game will help him in that sense. A dual threat offense is a dangerous thing to stop.
5. Michael Bennett
Bennett is a new addition to the Patriots in 2019. Bennett will fill a big need for the Patriots, and that is pass rushing. That has been a problem for the team since they traded Chandler Jones to Arizona. Bennett has given Belichick praise early in his tenure in New England. Bennett is looking to prove he is not too old, he heard people thinking he retired. That’s going to put a chip on his shoulder. The Patriots need an elite pass rusher, and Bennett could be that guy. The defensive secondary is one of the best in the league, so even just pressuring quarterbacks would be great from Bennett.
4. Dont’a Hightower
Hightower is one of the Patriots best defenders. He plays his best football when the lights are the brightest. He has multiple Super Bowl moments, stopping Marshawn Lynch at the goal line leading to the Butler interception, and the strip sack of Matt Ryan to help the comeback. Every team needs clutch defensive players. Hightower needs to continue to be the defensive leader for the Patriots, he sets the tone for everyone else. It all starts with Hightower on that side of the ball.
3. Stephon Gilmore
Gilmore entered his name into the best cornerback conversation last season. He needs to be an elite defender again this season. He is responsible for guarding every teams best receiver. If he is not as good as he was last year, the Patriots will give up a lot of points. He had a career high 20 pass deflections last year. He needs to continue to be physical and dominant against some of the best athletes in the game.
2. Julian Edelman
Edelman won Super Bowl MVP last year in a defensive game. Edelman needs to be a solid number one option for Brady. With N’keal Harry potentially being the number two receiver as a rookie, Edelman needs to be as reliable as ever. He is a leader on the team, but he is nursing a thumb injury right now. He needs to worry about getting healthy first before he worries about this season. Edelman is hoping for a full 16 games this year, he was suspended last year, and tore his ACL the year before. He’s always on a mission to prove others wrong.
1. Tom Brady
The leader of the 20 year dynasty. At 42 years old this season, Brady needs to stay consistent, and not try to do too much. Brady has proven all the doubters wrong when it comes to him falling off the cliff. That is all he needs to avoid this season, he can’t have his number and throws not as good as last year. The Patriots go as far as Brady takes them. He needs to be able to make the big throws down the field, and still be able to put some speed behind his throws. When he can’t do either of those, he won’t be the same Brady we once knew.