Despite the fact that the New England Patriots have won 31.6 percent of Super Bowls since Bill Belichick was hired in 2000, there are still complaints about the head coach’s ability to draft players.
We will not be discussing the ongoing battle between Belichick the general manager and Belichick the head coach here today. But there are some recent high-profile Patriots draft picks fighting for spots on the 53-man roster as training camp starts up Thursday morning.
QB Danny Etling
Etling is fighting an uphill battle while sharing a quarterback room with Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer and 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham.
Etling must prove he can do something other than throwing the football, whether that be playing on special teams, catching passes or something else, to make the team. He already was getting work on special teams over the spring, and he’s pretty athletic for a signal-caller.
WR Braxton Berrios
Berrios could benefit from the thumb injury hampering fellow wideout Julian Edelman, perhaps even seeing some first-team practice reps.
He missed most of last summer with an injury before he was placed on injured reserve but had some flashy moments in the spring.
TE Ryan Izzo
If Izzo’s any good, he’ll make the 2019 roster with little competition at the tight end position after spending the 2018 season on injured reserve with a minor ankle injury. He might be the best blocking tight end on the Patriots’ current roster.
DE Derek Rivers
Rivers missed his 2017 rookie year with a torn ACL then received plenty of opportunities last season but didn’t do much with them.
He’ll be two full years removed from ACL surgery by the time the season starts and will have to stand out to make the roster.
DT Byron Cowart
Cowart was selected in the fifth round out of Maryland in April, but he’s not guaranteed a roster spot. He’s behind Lawrence Guy, Mike Pennel and Adam Butler on the depth chart and fighting with Danny Shelton, Ufomba Kamalu, David Parry and Nick Thurman for a roster spot.
Cowart is an undersized run-stuffer.
LB Christian Sam
Sam is another 2018 draft pick who spent last season on injured reserve. He’s in a loaded linebacker corps that includes Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts and special-teamer Brandon King. He’ll need a strong summer to make the roster.
CB Duke Dawson
Dawson, a 2018 second-round pick, is the most notable player on this list. We just have to wonder how many cornerbacks the Patriots will keep. Based on last season, Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones and Keion Crossen are above Dawson on the depth chart. And the Patriots just spent another second-round pick on Joejuan Williams.
Consider Dawson on the roster bubble.