Of all the big-name Patriots acquisitions this summer, one stands out.
Is it Albert Haynesworth? Nope. Is it Chad Ochocinco? Child please.
Concealed under all veteran standouts Belichick has picked up this offseason is Brian Waters.
Waters has been a phenomenal pickup for the Patriots so far. Signed at the end of training camp, Waters was expected to provide some stability at the right guard position, and play there at least until Dan Connolly returned from injury
Following Dan Koppen's Week 1 injury, Connolly moved to center and Waters hasn't looked back.
Waters has started all five games at right guard for New England. He has shown to be a fully competent blocker, and has meshed well with an offensive line that blocks for Tom Brady and the No. 1 offense in the league.
What's made Waters' presence even more impressive is his seamless transition from left guard to right guard. Reversing sides like that was once compared to switching the dominant hand on a golf swing by Bill Belichick.
Despite such difficulties, Waters has made the transition without missing a beat and has carried himself very professionally in the process.
Waters, though, has experience with such position changes. Coming into the league, Waters was a man without a position. Some teams saw him as a tight end, some as a full back, and some as a defensive end.
Finally, when working out with the Chiefs once, it was suggested that he try playing center along the offensive line. And thus began a fruitful career with the Chiefs.
Waters, now 34 years old, was a six-time pro bowler in his time with the Chiefs.
Coming into New England, Waters has brought his professionalism with him as well. Waters was the 2009 NFL Man of the Year and also a leader during the lockout this offseason. His professionalism has been noticed by coach Bill Belichick.
“I’ve really been impressed with not only the way he’s performed, but just the way he’s gone about his job. I think again, the level of experience and professionalism that he brings to the team; you can see why he has played in the league as long as he has at such a high level. He really works at it. He adds a lot of—not in an outspoken way—but he adds a lot of quiet leadership and professionalism to our football team. I’ve really been impressed with him.”
Additionally, Waters is still a very good football player. Last year with the Chiefs, he was the 12th ranked guard on ProFootballFocus, a website that grades every play of every game.
I truly believe that Waters has been the Patriots' best acquisition this year. Waters was a late arrival but his contributions speak for themselves. He's played every game, started every game, and has way exceeded expectations. He's done this while missing all of training camp.
Other players like Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth have been obvious disappointments. Shaun Ellis and Mark Anderson aren't every-down players. Andre Carter is the only other player whose contributions have been notable.
Carter, despite similarly strong performances on the field and similar veteran leadership, hasn't been nearly as good an acquisition as Waters. I don't want to take anything away from Carter, whose play has gone under the radar in the Patriots' horrid defense, but Carter isn't playing a new position, nor has he missed valuable training camp time.
Additionally, losing Waters would cripple the right guard position, while the defensive end position has much more solid depth.
Waters has been an important cog in the offense and has met adversity with professionalism. For all the hype that the Patriots' other acquisitions bring, it's easy to overlook Waters. There hasn't been a better new Patriot this year.