The Patriots were busy once again in the offseason bringing in players and making trades in the draft. The roster is loaded right now and there are going to be some interesting battles in training camp for starting jobs.
Let's take a look at the offense first.
Tight End: Benjamin Watson vs. Chris Baker vs. David Thomas vs. Alex Smith
Edge: Either Baker or Smith. Both are blocking tight ends that can also catch the ball, unlike Watson as of lately. Watson needs to start securing the ball or he is going to remember fans of Reche Caldwell with all the balls that he dropped.
Watson is definitely the fastest out of the group, but should be used as a receiver instead. Thomas might end up being cut, either him or Tyson Devree because they are way too many tight ends on the roster.
Right tackle: Nick Kaczur vs. Ryan O'Callaghan
Edge: Has to go to Kaczur because he has the starting experience and nobody else on the roster can seem to play right tackle.
O'Callaghan was brought in because he was know to have a mean streak, but he is looking about as mean as a box full of kittens right now. O'Callaghan needs to start because Kaczur has been the weak link on the offensive line since he was brought in.
O'Callaghan either needs to start or light a fire under Kaczur to make him play better; like what happened last year when Jonathan Stewart mad DeAngelo Williams finally play up to his expectations.
Running Back: Sammy Morris vs. Fred Taylor vs. Laurence Maroney vs. Kevin Faulk vs. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Edge: Either Morris or Taylor. Both are power backs, but have the speed to take it the distance. Maroney needs to step his game up or he will be out of a job at the end of the season.
Maroney can be a power back and definitely has the speed to take it the distance, but he struggles way to much at the line of scrimmage deciding which hole to run through and is often stopped at the line or behind it.
Faulk is a good third down back and pass blocker, but I don't know how much playing time he will se with the running back committee we have this year. Green-Ellis was a surprise off the practice squad last year and hope to see more of him.
Green-Ellis is similar to Morris in the fact that he is both a power back and has the speed to take it the distance. I don't know about anyone else, but he was a really good pickup for me last year in fantasy football that helped me win.
Right Guard: Stephen Neal vs. Jermail Porter
Edge: Goes to Neal. Has been the starter for years, but always seems to have a nagging injury that hampers his playing time. Neal is getting up there in age and the Patriots need a more consistent starter at right guard.
Porter is an unknown right now because he has never played football in his life, but as a collegiate wrestler he has a big upside because both Matt Light and Neal were both wrestlers in college too.
The right side of the line is really weak and it was evident in the Super Bowl loss to the Giants, after Neal went down in the first half the Giants defensive line went right through our offensive line like a knife through butter.
Safety: Brandon Meriweather vs. James Sanders vs. Patrick Chung
Edge: Goes to Meriweather. It is still unknown what position Meriweather and Sanders will be playing this season. Personally I think Meriweather is better suited for free safety because he has more range than Sanders and also makes more plays on the ball.
Sanders is better suited for strong safety because he has the build for it. Chung as of right now is a special teamer, but he could play in sub packages if he can learn the defense.
Outside Linebacker: Pierre Woods vs. Tully Banta-Cain
Edge: Banta-Cain...Back in 2006, BB utilized Banta-Cain on pass rushing situations and he ended up with 5.5 sacks in the 5 games he started. Woods showed promise last year, but was injured quickly with a broken jaw.
Banta-Cain gets the edge because of his pass rushing skills and that's what the Pats really need out of their outside linebackers which we lacked last year.
Inside Linebacker: Tedy Bruschi vs. Gary Guyton vs. Paris Lenon
Edge: Goes to Lenon. He may have played on the win-less Lions last season, but he is good in run support and can play in pass coverage. The only thing that might hamper him starting is if he can learn the defense or not.
Guyton showed promise last season for being an undrafted free agent and will play in a rotational role along with Bruschi.
Cornerback: Leigh Bodden vs. Jonathan Wilhite vs. Shawn Springs vs. Terrence Wheatley vs. Darius Butler
Edge: Goes to Bodden. Another player from the win-less Lions last season, but has the play making ability to be a play maker and star. Bodden is both physical and fast, something that the Pats have been missing for a long time. He is rated as the 15th corner in the league right now.
Wilhite played well last season for a rookie and should start again this season. Springs is a question mark because of his age and has lost a step, but he was only brought in because he has fared well against Terrell Owens in the past.
Wheatley played well last season until injured and was stride for stride with Marvin Harrison down the field, he also deflected almost every pass thrown to him in that game too.
In college Butler was known as one of the best cover corners and also played on offense. As of right now I see him as a return man and a sub package corner if he can learn the defense.
Other Notable Mentions
Backup Nose Tackle: Mike Wright vs. Ron Brace
Edge: Goes to Wright. Wright gets the edge because he knows the defense and has more durability than Brace. Wright has been a serviceable backup over the years and has also played defensive end.
Brace could be a dominant player in a few years after learning the defense and learning from Vince Wilfork. Brace would be an excellent fit for the rare 4-3 scheme that BB uses on occasion because of his size (6'3", 330 lbs).
Only problem with Brace is that his college coaches had said he has poor durability, if Brace wants be a dominant player he will have to work hard in training camp.