The New England Patriots looked surprisingly polished during their three-day mandatory minicamp.
Starters Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Shaq Mason, Josh Kline and Logan Ryan didn’t take the field for any of the practice sessions, but the Patriots’ passing offense was firing on all cylinders, and the defense made their fair share of plays.
There’s reason to be excited about many of the young players on New England’s roster as the offseason workout program nears its end. The Patriots will have over a month off before reconvening for training camp in late July.
See who shined at minicamp.
ALL THREE QUARTERBACKS
It would be a little unfair to single out Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett for their performances at minicamp. Brady was magnificent as always, Garoppolo continues to make strides from last season, and Brissett already began to show improvement from the single organized team activities session the media watched in May.
Overall, Brady completed 77.9 percent of his passes with one interception in team drills and 75.6 percent in 11-on-11s. Garoppolo completed 75.9 percent of his passes with three interceptions in team drills and 75 percent in 11-on-11s. Brissett completed 72.1 percent of his passes with two interceptions in team drills and 71.4 percent in 11-on-11s with one pick.
Keep in mind, Brissett is going up against much easier competition, which is why I still think Garoppolo significantly outplayed the rookie. Brissett definitely looked solid in his first NFL minicamp, however.
RB D.J. FOSTER
Foster tweaked his left hamstring and sat out the second half of Day 3 of minicamp, but he’s right up there with James White as the Patriots’ best route-running back, which makes sense, since he played wide receiver during his senior season at Arizona State. Foster also flashed solid hands and elite speed and quickness throughout drills.
WR CHRIS HOGAN
Hogan was the Patriots’ best receiver on the practice field throughout minicamp, though it certainly helped that Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola didn’t participate because of offseason surgeries. Hogan certainly looks on pace to be the Patriots’ No. 2 or 3 wide receiver this season.
WR MALCOLM MITCHELL
Mitchell looked more comfortable than Patriots rookie wide receivers usually look in minicamp. He made two spectacular catches Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice. He made one leaping one-handed grab and one over-the-shoulder catch between two defenders.
WR AARON DOBSON
Dobson had the most experience in the Patriots’ system out of all the wide receivers on the field in minicamp other than Matthew Slater. He led all Patriots receivers in receptions during team drills. We’ll wait to see how Dobson fares in training camp and the preseason before we get too excited.
LB ROB NINKOVICH
Ninkovich moved from defensive end to linebacker during minicamp, and he looked comfortable, snagging Brady’s lone interception on Tuesday.
Ninkovich was solid as a coverage linebacker earlier in his career. He’s a bit older now but still shows off a nice pair of hands.
LB KAMU GRUGIER-HILL
Grugier-Hill flashed the coverage skills and athleticism that made him so dangerous at Eastern Illinois. He had a pass breakup and interception during minicamp. He also was working heavily on special teams. At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Grugier-Hill is undersized for a linebacker, but he excelled at the position in college.
CB CYRUS JONES
Jones looked comfortable at both cornerback and as a punt returner during his first NFL minicamp. He intercepted Garoppolo during a 2-on-2 drill Thursday. He has a shot to replace Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola as the team’s primary punt returner in 2016 and could take over the slot cornerback role. The second-round pick could make an immediate impact for the Patriots.
CB MALCOLM BUTLER
Butler missed the Patriots’ lone OTA session open to the media but bounced back big-time with two pass breakups during minicamp.
S CEDRIC THOMPSON
If there’s a dark horse to make the roster, it could be Thompson, who spent time on the Patriots’ practice squad late in 2015 and was added as a futures signing after the season. He was a fifth-round pick by the Miami Dolphins out of Minnesota last season. He’s a solid athlete, and he picked off a pass during minicamp.
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