ESPN thinks this is the Patriots’ biggest weakness moving forward

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The New England Patriots made no moves at the NFL trade deadline on Tuesday. Instead, they made their biggest move beforehand, trading cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers on October 6.

Recapping each NFL team’s weaknesses, ESPN believes that the cornerback position will be the Patriots’ biggest one moving forward. As ESPN’s Mike Reiss wrote, depth at the position is thin. Furthermore, some cracks in the quality of play at cornerback reared their head on Sunday.

In addition to current play on the field, some of the options at the position are not even on the active roster. From ESPN:

“After trading Stephon Gilmore and placing top slot Jonathan Jones on injured reserve, the Patriots are thin at cornerback,” Reiss wrote. “J.C. Jackson and Jalen Mills are the starters — with opponents often attacking Mills, as the Chargers did on their late TD on Sunday — and practice-squad call-up Myles Bryant is the top slot option. Joejuan Williams and Shaun Wade are next on the CB depth chart. Chargers coach Brandon Staley made the point that the Patriots played more zone than man Sunday, in part because of their short-handed situation.”

Reiss has a valid concern. Bryant and Williams both saw some playing time last year. Williams made quite the impression on Bill Belichick in the season opener last year against Miami. Williams has nine tackles this season. That said, he’s been a liability in coverage, at times. He simply hasn’t been consistent enough to meet his billing as a former second-round pick

Bryant has recorded six tackles this season, as well as a forced fumble. His biggest play last season was an interception against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football. Bryant is far more trustworthy in coverage, particularly in the slot, where he thrives as a physical (albeit undersized) defender.

Although these players do have game experience, they will undoubtedly be tested as they look to strengthen the position. As New England enters the middle part of their schedule, cornerback will certainly be a position to keep an eye on moving forward.

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