Home » NFL Rookies » 2021 NFL Draft: Will the Patriots strike once more at cornerback?

2021 NFL Draft: Will the Patriots strike once more at cornerback?

Perhaps the only placement wherever the Patriots are as inconsistent in the draft as they are at large receiver is with the situation tasked largely with covering them.

New England’s operate of cornerbacks in the draft below Bill Belichick have been as real a growth-or-bust proposition as there is, in tune with the quite mother nature of the posture.

But contrary to at wide receiver, the Patriots have basically been capable to locate cornerbacks on a consistent foundation … just not where you’d believe.

Given that using over as mentor and common supervisor in 2000, Belichick has overseen the collection of 7 cornerbacks in the second spherical of the draft or larger: Terrence Wheatley (second round, 62nd overall, 2008) Darius Butler (2nd spherical, No. 41, 2009) Devin McCourty (first spherical, No. 27, 2010) Ras-I Dowling (next spherical, No. 33, 2011) Cyrus Jones (2nd round, No. 60, 2016) Duke Dawson (next spherical, No. 56, 2018) and Joejuan Williams (2nd spherical, No. 45, 2019).

Only McCourty saw the end of his rookie offer with the Patriots — Williams nonetheless could — and while McCourty was a Pro Bowler at corner his rookie calendar year, he didn’t arise as a accurate franchise cornerstone until he switched to safety in 2012.

Phil Perry’s remaining complete Patriots 7-round mock draft

Nonetheless, in lessen rounds or even following the draft, New England has been as very good as any staff in the NFL at figuring out cornerbacks given that the convert of the century. Among the hits: Asante Samuel (fourth spherical, No. 120, 2003) Randall Gay (undrafted, 2004) Logan Ryan (third round, No. 83, 2013) Malcolm Butler (undrafted, 2014) Jonathan Jones (undrafted, 2016) and J.C. Jackson (undrafted, 2018).


Samuel’s résumé is the strongest, with a 1st Workforce All-Pro nod in addition to 4 Professional Bowl berths, when Butler’s meteoric increase and tumble in New England usually overshadows just how great he was in 2015 (Pro Bowl) and 2016. Jones and Jackson, the latter of whom completed second in the NFL with nine interceptions in 2020, stay viable areas of the protection for the Patriots.

It begs the problem, the moment yet again, how can one workforce be so continually mediocre at drafting one particular position up significant in the draft, but strike gold time and time all over again when the draft is in excess of?

Among the seven players drafted in the second round or higher, all played at what had been (at the time) educational facilities within a electrical power convention. This includes Cyrus Jones, who won two national championships at Alabama.

“I feel it’s ready me a terrific offer,” he mentioned soon after becoming drafted by the Patriots. “Playing for Coach [Nick] Saban, he’s a good coach, arguably a person of the very best in the place — and I have heard a lot of points that he’s when compared to Mentor Belichick and that our application is operate comparable to how the Patriots’ is operate.”

Although Malcolm Butler is a legitimate anomaly, coming from NCAA Division II West Alabama, Gay (Louisiana Condition), Ryan (Rutgers), Jones (Auburn) and Jackson (Maryland) all played at Electric power 5 applications.

“The SEC is a very good league, but the NFL is a full different amount,” Jonathan Jones in the course of OTAs his rookie calendar year. “I consider you have to appear in listed here, be humble and start out from the base. Master from a large amount of the veteran fellas and choose it day-by-day and be the best you can be.”

There was no apparent infatuation above 40-property sprint occasions any 12 months, which confident seemed like the case with a few above-drafted receivers.

In 2016, for instance, the Patriots made Cyrus Jones their to start with choose of the draft irrespective of a time of 4.49 seconds in the 40, tied for 20th-speediest amid corners at the mix, while Jonathan Jones, who was tied for the swiftest corner at 4.31 seconds, fell into their laps undrafted.

Of training course, in 2011, Dowling clocked in at 4.40 seconds, seventh-swiftest amid corners, although Richard Sherman owned the 26th-ideal time at his posture at that year’s combine. The Patriots allegedly opted for Dowling around Sherman, which whether legitimate or not does display that for as significantly as the place is about speed…it’s not constantly about speed.


Drafting for peak has been a give-or-just take proposition at corner for the Patriots, way too. Dowling was listed at 6-foot-1 at the merge, but the equally disappointing Wilhite was 4 inches shorter at 5-foot-9 and both Dawson and Cyrus Jones ended up 5-foot-10. Jackson calculated 6-foot-1 at the combine, nonetheless, and Jonathan Jones was shown at 5-foot-9. Samuel, who had the ideal vocation of any corner drafted by Belichick, was shown at 5-foot-11 at his incorporate.

Had been any of these players served or haunted by the circumstances all over them in the secondary? Samuel came in as a rookie with Corridor of Famer Ty Law and Tyrone Poole as starters at corner, in addition Rodney Harrison at safety.

Perhaps Samuel was established up to thrive, but Cyrus Jones entered a secondary showcasing McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon at protection with Butler and Ryan ahead of him on the depth chart at corner and identified himself on the outs practically quickly.

Equally Dawson and Jackson had entered as rookies in 2018 with Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty as corners, together with the identical trio of safeties Jackson attained All-Pro consideration by his 3rd period, even though Dawson was traded for a sixth-round draft decide on just a single calendar year following remaining taken in the 2nd round and devoid of getting ever stepping onto the industry for the Patriots.

With equally Jackson and Gilmore going through unsure futures in Foxboro past 2021, New England will once more be in the industry for a cornerback at the draft this weekend. It is significantly from the team’s No. 1 priority — that would be quarterback — but that may well not be the worst point in the environment, if current background is any indicator.

Averting the cornerbacks Thursday and Friday night time in the initial 3 rounds entirely and seeing who’s still left Saturday and beyond may possibly be superior for all people associated.


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