NFL Writer Views This Patriot As Second-Year Breakout Candidate

Gaining the trust of Bill Belichick is no easy task


Jul 22, 2021

Thanks in large to a series of offseason moves and the return of Dont’a Hightower, defense is poised to be an area of strength for the Patriots in the upcoming campaign.

The unit will be that much better if one of New England’s most promising young players levels up in the 2021 season.

Josh Uche only played in nine games as a rookie, but he flashed big potential in limited action. This carried over into the spring when Uche was among the most noteworthy standouts in Patriots minicamp. Pro Football Focus’ Seth Galina is buying into the Uche hype, as he tabbed the 2020 second-round pick as one of his 2021 second-year breakout candidates.

“As Uche acclimated to the NFL, he slowly gained trust from coach Bill Belichick. And in the second half of the season, he finally put it all together,” Galina wrote for

“Uche has quickness and good hands to detach from offensive linemen on pass plays and good hip movement to get around the corner. From Week 8 — when Uche was awarded his first defensive snaps of the season — until the end of the year, his 77.6 PFF grade ranked second only to Chase Young among rookie edge players. That ranked 16th overall. A full season as a starter could see him put up big numbers.”

The Michigan product was immediately hailed as a great fit in Foxboro upon his name getting called in April of last year. The 2020 season hinted that might be the case, but it appears we’ll gain a clearer understanding starting in September.

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images
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