Patriots Mailbag: What’s The Biggest Surprise To Come Out Of Minicamp?

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The New England Patriots answered many burning questions during their three-day mandatory minicamp.

Read this week’s mailbag for the answers.

Which UDFA has looked impressive so far in mini camp? #MailDoug
— @JimGilhooly1957
Quite a few of the undrafted free agents have stood out, actually. Wide receiver Austin Carr and tight end Jacob Hollister have been sure-handed and were favorite targets of quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Wideout Cody Hollister made a nice diving catch Thursday. Linebacker Harvey Langi, safeties David Jones and Damarius Travis and cornerbacks Kenny Moore, D.J. Killings and Dwayne Thomas all had pass breakups in minicamp, and safety Jason Thompson had an interception.

Carr and Moore have been the biggest standouts. Carr caught a ton of passes, and Moore was spending time with the veteran group in team drills. That’s a good sign for an undrafted cornerback.

Between Wise and Rivers, who do you think will have the biggest impact as a rookie vs over the long haul?
— @carlmarcuslewin
I’d say Derek Rivers for both questions.

I think Rivers is more ready to contribute this season, and given his athleticism, I think he’s the better prospect for the future, as well.

Higher draft picks aren’t always bigger contributors, though. Geneo Grissom was selected a round before Trey Flowers in 2015. Now Grissom is a special-teamer who actually was cut last season, and Flowers is a starting defensive end.

@DougKyed From what you’ve seen, which 2nd year players will break out, which rookie will surprise positively #MailDoug
— @Sharks771
Among second-year players, running back D.J. Foster, wide receiver Devin Lucien and cornerback Jonathan Jones had standout moments this spring. Foster probably popped the most in OTAs and minicamp, but Jones has the best chance to make an impact in 2017 because he could win the slot cornerback role. Foster would have to beat out Mike Gillislee, James White, Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis to get considerable snaps.

I’d still lean toward Jacob Hollister or Langi surprising as rookies, because they have the best chance to actually contribute at their positions.

If Cooks has a strong season is he an extension candidate next off-season?
— @greenleaf_chris
If Cooks has a strong season, it’s kind of a double-edged sword. Of course the Patriots would want to extend his contract, but Cooks also likely would want to hit the open market as a free agent to make top dollar.

I would be surprised if the Patriots and Cooks reached an extension before the 2019 offseason.

@DougKyed Who or what was the biggest surprise (good or bad) based on OTAs?
— @KazerTazer
Honestly, I was very surprised that defensive tackle Josh Augusta couldn’t complete two laps around the field with the rest of the defense Thursday in minicamp. He has a long way to go with his conditioning. It was 74 degrees on Thursday and will be in the 90s on Monday.

Other than that, I was surprised Moore was bumped up to the veteran group of team drills so early, especially because there are plenty of veteran cornerbacks on the roster in Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones and Justin Coleman.

I also was surprised Rob Gronkowski was a full participant right away. That’s a great sign that he’s full-go three months before the 2017 season begins. If Gronk was healthy enough to beat up the new WWE Champion, then he’s healthy enough to catch footballs in practice.

Is Dwayne Allen a roster lock?
— @JustinMH90
@DougKyed Hearing any concerns with Dwayne Allen? #MailDoug
— @U2BFM
@DougKyed Since D Allen reportedly cant catch, are the Pats suddenly thin at TE? #maildoug
— @ELeBoeuf
Allen’s always been more of a blocking TE but are the drops concerning? Maybe bring in better catching TE like Green or Barnidge? #MailDoug
— @Gronkey_Kong_87
OK, so this is what happens during the spring when there’s not a ton going on in the NFL while following a team that has basically no holes or flaws.

Allen dropped a few passes during minicamp, but there’s no reason to get all excited like Jojo the idiot circus boy with a pretty new pet.

Is Allen a roster lock? No, but he’s really, really, really close.

Hearing any concerns? No.

Are the Patriots thin at tight end? No.

Are the drops concerning? A little, but he’ll look much better as a blocker when the pads come on in training camp.

Should the Patriots bring in LaDarius Green or Gary Barnidge? If they’re willing to sign for a minimum contract and take on third tight end duties, sure. If not, then probably no.

Any correlation between TB12 & JE11’s contracts running till 19, coincidental or intentional? #MailDoug
— @MichaelProOG
There certainly could be, but I also think that’s just a normal number of years to extend Edelman’s contract. Edelman might not agree to one year, and the Patriots probably wouldn’t want to lock him up for three or more years.

Brady actually could be extended next, and then any correlation or coincidence could be thrown out the window.

Let’s go rapid fire:

Hi Doug, who on the NESN team is responsible for bringing sunblock to practice? Asking for a friend.
— @PP_Rich_Hill
It was so rainy and miserable Tuesday at minicamp that my beat partner Zack Cox and I both kind of forgot that when it’s sunny outside you can get a sunburn. So, neither one of us brought sunblock Wednesday, and we both got burnt.

Fortunately, we both brought sunblock Thursday, but I still have a gnarly sunglass/raccoon tan/burn on my face and very red forearms.

@DougKyed Can you see the Pats showing any interest in signing Decker even with a crowded WR group? Possibly cut ties with Dola to make room??
— @JoeyA_11
No, if the Jets release him then he’ll almost certainly sign with another team for more money than the Patriots would be willing to pay him as a No. 3/4/5 receiver.

MJ vs. LeBron in Oklahoma Drills but both of them have the body of Vince Wilfork, who ya got? #MailDoug
— @pwsmithj
Gotta go with LeBron James on this one.

Sounds like Grissom has been involved with the starters. Has the light suddenly turned on there or is he just getting reps?
— @ChefdDds89
It is my belief that Grissom is getting reps with the first team because he has experience in the defense. It’s tough to rush rookies into practice, and the Patriots’ projected No. 4 and 5 defensive ends are Rivers and Wise, both rookies.

How’s that Brady and Cooks connection??
— @mikeloris2
Good.

@DougKyed Could Jacoby Brissett leap Jimmy G for the backup QB job?
— @PatriotsMut360
Nope.

Are there any advantages to having an easily-mispronounceable last name? #MailDoug #KyedKyeddAndKyeddy
— @TeamCrazyMatt
Only one. When one of your friends doesn’t know how to pronounce your name for years and you get to make fun of him after playing the long con and finally correcting him.

Theoretically, can you have two QBs on the field at the same time? #QuarterbackControversy #MailDoug
— @scattypetty
Yes, and I need to see it. I used to think about this idea when covering high school football teams with crappy quarterbacks. Just confuse the defense by having a different quarterback under center throughout the game. Or run lots of halfback passes.

You can’t use two footballs, though. Unless there’s some sort of loophole in the rulebook. If there is, then Bill Belichick knows about it, and I look forward to seeing it in 2017.

Who is the sexist player on the Patriots #MailDoug
— @benny_biceps
Hopefully there isn’t a sexist player on the Patriots.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyed.

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