In a conventional Patriots season, young and inexperienced players rarely have full plates.
But for more reasons than one, New England’s 2020 campaign is shaping up to be anything but normal.
First and foremost, the Patriots, like every other team across the league, will be forced to make adjustments brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, New England will be tasked with filling a slew of voids left by free-agent departures and player opt-outs. As such, Bill Belichick might ask more of a handful of younger players than initially expected.
ESPN believes two of said players, in particular, could be up to the challenge. The network on Thursday published a list of 25 young players who could break out in the upcoming NFL season. The list, which focused more on under-the-radar players as opposed to high draft picks, featured linebackers Chase Winovich and Ja’Whaun Bentley.
Winovich appeared in all 16 games last season, no small feat for a Patriots rookie. His role is sure to expand in 2020 following the exits of Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts. The same probably can be said for Bentley considering New England is extremely thin at middle linebacker in wake of Dont’a Hightower’s opt-out.
Both Winovich and Bentley have flashed star potential early in their NFL careers, so there’s reason to believe both players will rise to the occasion and help the Patriots’ defense maintain its status as one of the top units in the league.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports