FOXBORO, Mass. — There might be more pressure on the New England Patriots’ undrafted cornerbacks than on top pick Cyrus Jones.
Reporters peppered Jonathan Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc and V’Angelo Bentley with questions Thursday at Gillette Stadium about Malcolm Butler and whether his success as an undrafted free agent influenced their decision to join the Patriots.
It’s odd to say, but the Patriots have had more success finding cornerbacks after the draft than they have in second round, where they selected Cyrus Jones. The Patriots grabbed Terrance Wheatley in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft, Darius Butler in 2009 and Ras-I Dowling in 2011. All three were busts, while Butler isn’t the only undrafted free agent to go on to start at cornerback with the Patriots. Randall Gay, Kyle Arrington and Sterling Moore came before him and were better than Wheatley, Butler or Dowling in New England.
Jonathan Jones was the only undrafted rookie cornerback to openly admit Butler played a role in his decision.
“Definitely. This is one of the best put-together organizations,” Jones said. “They truly believe in that you get what you earn. So you come here, you put in the work, you put in the time and the preparation and, like I said, the rest is up to the coaches to make their decision. But I think this is a great organization.”
LeBlanc said he picked the Patriots over other offers because he knew the culture at Gillette Stadium is “really intense.”
“Right now, it’s like Coach (Bill Belichick) always says, ‘It doesn’t matter about how you get here, it matters what you do when you get here’, and right now I’m just enjoying every opportunity and chance that I can have right now,” LeBlanc said.
Bentley saw his former college teammate at Illinois, Justin Green, make the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Bentley said he signed with the Patriots because it offered him the best situation to be successful.
“I just followed what I believed was for me,” Bentley said. “I believed I would have a great opportunity here. It’s a great organization, I’m happy to be here. I’m just trying to put in the work every day to be a successful player.”
The Patriots likely will have an open competition for the fourth and fifth spots on the depth chart at cornerback. Butler, Logan Ryan and Cyrus Jones are locks to make the team, and Jonathan Jones, LeBlanc, Bentley, Justin Coleman, Darryl Roberts and E.J. Biggers will battle for what likely will come down to two spots.
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