Patriots Q&A: Who’s the Most Underrated Patriot and More

As the Patriots begin the process of welcoming players back to the facilities, we thought it would be a good time to do our first ever Patriots Q&A. Over the past couple of days, we’ve asked our readers to send us all their Patriots related questions. If you’d like to send questions for the next Q&A you can send them to @PatsBuzz on Twitter or to our Facebook page. Without further ado, let’s jump into your questions.

In your opinion, who’s the most underrated current Patriot? -@TylerIce1

The Patriots have quite a few underrated players, particularly on defense. Guys like John Simon and Lawrence Guy stick out, but our choice ultimately came down to J.C. Jackson or Adam Butler. Butler’s 2019 season consisted of 6 sacks, 9 quarterback hits, and 8 tackles for loss. Butler’s such a great pass rusher, even when he doesn’t get the sack he makes an impact on the play. He’s also starting to come on as a solid run defender. Butler’s going to earn himself a nice contract at the end of this season.

Even with those impressive stats from Butler, we have to go with Jackson when picking the most underrated Patriot. How many times have you seen Jackson listed as the #3 corner on the Patriots’ roster? Probably too many to count. Jackson doesn’t seem to get the national recognition his play has earned. When targeted last season, Jackson held quarterbacks to a 35.6 passer rating, that’s the best of any corner in the entire NFL. It’s virtually impossible to throw at Jackson and come away with a positive result. Even when the Patriots go up against the NFL’s best quarterbacks, Jackson still makes big plays. The play below is a perfect example of that.

Is Chase Winovich a double digit sack guy this year? -@TalkinLoud2020

We’ve talked about Chase Winovich a lot this offseason and rightfully so seeing as the Patriots need to replace a lot of production on the edge. Last season, Winovich had 5.5 sacks while playing 29% of the snaps. That is extremely efficient for a pass rusher.

With Winovich slated to take on a bigger role this season, a double-digit sack season seems very doable. We have him projected between 8 to 12 sacks. Ultimately, we aren’t too concerned about his pass-rushing ability. The next big step for Winovbich is becoming a three-down player and helping out more on run defense.

Who gets more snaps this season; Uche or Jennings? -@MikeySayso199

It’s tough to say, especially with the news of Dont’a Hightower opting out. Before Hightower opted out, we had Anfernee Jennings playing a bigger role in year one. Jennings has all the tools to play right away as a run defender on the edge, something the Patriots need. Aside from John Simon, the Patriots don’t have another definite starting run defender on the edge. This isn’t to say we thought Josh Uche wouldn’t play his rookie year, but rather that Jennings would have a more prominent role. We projected Uche as more of a situational pass rusher in his rookie season, just like former Michigan Wolverine teammate Winovich was in his rookie year. In terms of playstyle, Uche plays a lot more like Hightower than Jennings. If Uche picks up the defense quickly, it’s possible he gets starting snaps as a linebacker/ edge hybrid, but that’s a lot to ask of a rookie.

If we have to pick one, we’d go with Jennings. He may not have the star potential Uche has, but the Patriots have a shortage of run defenders on the edge and that’s Jennings’ best trait. Uche thrives more as a pass rusher. With that being said, it’s very likely both will have sizable roles for rookie defenders.

Which QB realistically starts? What RB has a breakout year? Which WR has the best year? -@JC202034

1.) Cam Newton. If Newton’s healthy, which everything we’ve heard or seen says he is, then he seems the most likely to start.

2.) Damien Harris. It’s hard to say exactly how much he’ll play with so much running back depth, but he’s primed for a breakout year. It’s possible he’ll split snaps with Sony Michel as the lead back.

3.) Julian Edelman. Edelman is still by far the best receiver on this roster and we don’t expect that to be any different this year.

How far can the Patriots go with Cam Newton? -@JesseBenoit

With Newton starting at quarterback, the Patriots feel like a 10 win football team. It’s important to remember that up until getting injured late in the 2018 season, Newton was playing really well. We covered some of his game film from that season here. If the Patriots get 2018 Newton paired with a very good offensive line, a top defense, and Bill Belichick, it’s hard to bet against them in the AFC East. Yes, the Bills are very good and pose a legitimate threat, but the Patriots are still the favorites in the division.

Thoughts on the FB position? -@BostonBelieve

The Patriots have had some tough breaks at fullback this offseason. First, James Develin retired, and now new signee Dan Vitale has opted out of the upcoming season. Vitale and his versatility would have fit really well with Newton.

Luckily, the Patriots have Jakob Johnson and Dalton Keene to help fill in. Johnson was solid in the limited snaps we saw. He’s a little raw but he’s a solid lead blocker. Keene is more of a hybrid tight end/fullback. The Patriots can creatively use him at the H-back spot. He also made some nice blocks out of the backfield at Virginia Tech. Overall, it’s obviously not going to be Develin good, but the fullback spot should be better than what they had last year. Most of last season New England played with no fullback or linebacker Elandon Roberts at fullback; he wasn’t bad per se, but the running game regressed from 2018 without a true fullback.

Who would you like to see the Patriots have at kick return and punt return this season? -@NerdBeantown

At kick returner, the Patriots would be wise to use Damiere Bryd or Jeff Thomas, as both have blazing speed. At punt returner, we’d like to see Kyle Dugger. Dugger was an electrifying punt returner in college. Granted it was Division II, but his athletic profile should allow his punt return skills to transfer over to the NFL.

Probably would NOT have ever happened but what would prime Tom Brady’s trade value be? -@RondaRouseyFan

Very doubtful that there’s any amount of trade capital that could have been gotten prime Tom Brady in a trade. For one reason and one reason only: Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T.

Thoughts on James White not being named a top 100 player? -@antgeezfly97

We don’t put too much stock in the NFL top 100 list, but there were a few Patriots that deserved to be on the list, namely Edelman and Devin McCourty. James White is a great player, but it’s hard to make the list when he’s mostly used as a pass-catching back. With that being said, he’s one of the best pass-catching backs in the NFL.

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