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Grading every Patriots’ positional group heading into 2024 offseason

The New England Patriots had a bad season that ultimately led to Bill Belichick losing his job and the team picking 3rd overall in the 2024 NFL draft.

Now that the Super Bowl is over, we can officially turn the page to the offseason. It’s time to look at the Patriots’ roster with a closer eye as an important offseason begins.

We’re going to take a look at each position group and the players currently under contract as of Monday after the Super Bowl. Things will without a doubt change in the coming weeks, but this is a nice way to reset and also recognize the work needing to be done.

Quarterbacks: Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: D

Both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe have shown small flashes of being capable NFL backup quarterbacks.

However, since Tom Brady’s exit forced us to take off the blinders, Patrick Mahomes is now showing us the one thing we failed to see while Brady was still in New England: The catalyst for success is the quarterback, and although you need other good pieces around them, you can not start any sort of winning without that position being addressed.

Great players like Brady, Mahomes, Manning and other NFL legends do not come around often, but great teams always have a franchise level, elite quarterback at the helm.

The Patriots have a real shot at finding one in this draft class, but the stars need to align for them to pick the right player.

Running Backs: Rhamondre Stevenson, Kevin Harris, JaMychal Hasty, Ke'Shawn Vaughn

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: C+

Rhamondre Stevenson is one of the better backs in the NFL as a pure runner, but he isn’t a workhorse back like others at his position. The depth at the position isn’t great, even if Ezekiel Elliott returns. So this position may need some revamping as part of the new-look offense under offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.

Stevenson is good but not good enough to carry an offense. Although 2022 was a good year for him, he hasn’t developed his pass-catching abilities as well as the Patriots had hoped. However, his pure running ability is extremely fun to watch as he constantly makes tacklers miss.

Him alone makes this position a C-plus grade, but I expect the Patriots to add to the room, even if Elliott comes back.

Wide Receivers: Demario Douglas, DeVante Parker, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, Kayshon Boutte, TJ Luther, Kawaan Baker

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: C-

The Patriots have had a rough go at the receiver room over the years. As of now, their room is not good at all and has a ton of unknowns. Demario Douglas is the lone bright spot, but the Patriots have enough veterans in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Devante Parker to be slightly below average as a wide receiver room.

They get a C-minus here due to Douglas still finding ways to produce with bad offensive play all around him. The Patriots need to find ways to add to the room as a whole this offseason.

Tight Ends: La'Michael Pettway

Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK
Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Grade: F

The Patriots do not have a tight end on their roster that has played meaningful snaps or has shown production.

Pettway may be an exciting developmental project for whoever is the next tight ends coach, but as of now, this is a barren wasteland for tight end talent. The Patriots will probably bring back some of their key free agents, like Hunter Henry and Pharoah Brown to fill the gap.

Offensive Tackles: Andrew Steuber, Calvin Anderson, Verdarian Lowe, Conor McDermott

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: D

This is not good whatsoever for the 2024 Patriots. With two starting tackles heading to free agency (unless they get extended beforehand), the Patriots have no good options here.

I didn’t give this position a failing grade simply because these guys all started at some point last year, and they could be valuable backups for a pinch start.

There may be some optimism that Scott Peters, the new offensive line coach of the Patriots, can develop or coach up some of the younger options in Steuber and Lowe. But Anderson and McDermott are what they are at this point—NFL backup tackles.

Offensive Guards: Cole Strange, Sidy Sow, Atonio Mafi, Michael Jordan

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Grade: C+

Sidy Sow and Cole Strange both showed flashes last season, and they are capable starters in a west coast offense. In fact, Strange might be better suited in that system, and it could revive his first-round draft pick pedigree in a new system with a new offensive line coach.

Sow, on the other hand, has some experience playing at tackle and is sneaky athletic for someone considered a power guard. He should be just fine in a new system. Overall, the Patriots could have some solid guards. Atonio Mafi looked like a capable guard and showed some real promise on tape against tough competition. At the very least, he gives the team a good backup.

That doesn’t mean the Patriots can’t replace players with upgrades. But offensive guard obviously isn’t their biggest concern for 2024, unless Peters or Van Pelt think they need new interior linemen to run their scheme.

Centers: David Andrews, Jake Andrews

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

Grade: B

David Andrews is one of the better centers in the entire league, and although he is at the end of the road, he didn’t miss a snap all last season. Jake Andrews was drafted right near the top-100 last year to potentially be David’s replacement, and he played fairly well in the last few weeks.

Jake has some upside to kick to either guard spot, if needed. So this position group is fairly good considering the Patriots’ struggles elsewhere on the offensive line.

Defensive Tackles: Christian Barmore, Davon Godchaux, Jeremiah Pharms Jr, Trysten Hill

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B+

Christian Barmore is a menace, and one of the best defensive tackles in football when healthy. Davon Godchaux does a lot of dirty work that goes unnoticed and is a defensive anchor next to Barmore creating a sneaky good run defense up the middle.

The Patriots have some young depth in Pharms Jr. and Hill but will likely look to add some depth for new defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.

 

 

Defensive End: Deatrich Wise Jr., Keion White, Lawrence Guy, Sam Roberts

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Grade: B-

Wise Jr. showed how excellent he is at this job by increasing his pressure rate this season, which was desperately needed. Keion White was a second-round draft pick last season, and he showed some flashes of potentially being a true disruptor at the position.

This group is backed by veteran Lawrence Guy and a young up-and-comer in Sam Roberts, both of whom are capable in spot situations. There’s hope that new talent will lead to some great training camp battles under newly-hired defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.

White being able to play as a stand-up outside linebacker, if needed, adds some serious versatility to this group.

EDGE: Matthew Judon, William Bradley-King

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B

This group is carried by Matthew Judon, but with absolutely no depth, this is simply a B grade.

I expect the Patriots to bring back Anfernee Jennings and consider looking at Josh Uche, but they still need to find some pass-rushing depth so they don’t fall off a cliff, if Judon goes down with another injury next season.

There should be plenty of opportunities for the team to address this position in free agency or the draft.

Off-ball LB: Ja'Whaun Bentley, Jahlani Tavai, Raekwon McMillan, Joe Giles Harris

Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

Grade: B+

Bentley and Tavai are extremely underrated across the league, and both have blossomed in the Patriots’ system. Tavai is better in coverage than Bentley, but both of them have excelled as a tandem recently. McMillan looked good when healthy, but we haven’t seen that play out too often.

The Patriots have Chris Board, Marte Mapu and even Jabrill Peppers, who can spot up at the position, if needed for depth.

Cornerbacks: Christian Gonzalez, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones, JC Jackson, Shaun Wade, Marco Wilson, Azizi Hearn, Isaiah Bolden

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: A-

I firmly believe Christian Gonzalez will be one of the best corners in the NFL in 2024 after an incredible start to last season. Jonathan Jones is one of the more underrated corners in the league, while JC Jackson and Marcus Jones should create a deep cornerback room.

This is the Patriots’ best position group on the roster, including Alex Austin, who will likely be retained in the offseason as well. This will be a deep group by the time training camp rolls around.

Safeties: Jabrill Peppers, Marte Mapu, Adrian Phillips

Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

Grade: B+

Mapu’s development will be the catalyst for this group, but Jabrill Peppers is the Patriots’ best overall player right now, behind Matthew Judon. Peppers and Mapu, with Phillips as depth, creates one of the better safety rooms in the conference.

The Patriots could look to add some depth here through the draft, or simply re-sign Joshuah Bledsoe, Jalen Mills or both. But even without them, this is a talented group without question.

Special Teams: Joe Cardona, Bryce Baringer, Chad Ryland, Brenden Schooler, Chris Board

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Grade: C

Without Matthew Slater, this unit takes a massive hit. However, Brenden Schooler has emerged as one of the best special teamers in the league and is ready to take the torch from Slater. Bryce Baringer is a very good punter and works well with Joe Cardona on both punts and field goals. Chris Board is a good core special teamer and provides them with some depth.

New coach Jeremy Springer will be tasked with getting this unit above average and potentially turning Chad Ryland into something much better than his 2023 self.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire