Current Two-Deep: Asante Samuel (LCB), Ellis Hobbs (RCB), Joselio Hanson (NICK), Macho Harris (4)
Also in the Mix: Trevard Lindley, Josh Morris, Dimitri Patterson, David Pender, Geoff Pope, Devin Ross
The Skinny: Samuel is set at one side, but the right side could be just about anyone.
Hobbs is there by default, and he has experience—he and Samuel were the Pats’ starting duo in their last Super Bowl run. But he’s coming off a neck injury, so he may not be 100 percent come September.
Hanson is the nickel guy and is great at it, but isn’t quite…well, for lack of a better word, “good” enough to start on the outside consistently. Beyond him, you have Harris (who played safety last year), Patterson (mostly used as a gunner), Pope (did he see the field?), and four rookies.
Of those rookies, the most intriguing are Lindley and Ross.
The former was a fourth-round pick despite having injury issues and only average straight line speed, but the Birds must’ve seen something in him to take him at No. 105.
Ross, meanwhile, is physical and aggressive, can return kicks, and has drawn comparisons to Sheldon Brown.
Morris has the tools but doesn’t seem to know how to use them, while Pender is fast but has poor hands and isn’t physical.
It will be interesting to watch the battles for starting RCB and fourth CB, as some surprises could arise.
Projection: I think Hobbs will end up starting, as he has the experience alongside Samuel and Hanson just fits into the nickel spot better.
However, I think the surprise is that the Birds will keep six CB, and the three “backups” will be Harris, Ross and Pope.
Harris will be there as the kick returner, de facto fourth safety, and guy who fills in at nickel back if Hanson has to be elevated.
Ross, meanwhile, will take Patterson’s spot as a gunner and also learn a bit at CB, while Pope will be the steady straight-up backup.
Lindley just has too many concerns, and Patterson really isn’t a great corner, which the Birds will need if they keep Macho and the raw Ross on the roster.