Safety has been one of the positions on this New England Patriots team that comes and goes. Since Rodney Harrison retired, the Patriots have not really had a lock down type player back there. Devin McCourty’s emergence as one of the best safeties in the league has given the Patriots a lot of flexibility in the back field.
During the off season the Patriots took a flyer on Patrick Chung, bringing him back on a one-year/$1.25 million dollar deal. Chung was needed to bring some veteran presence in the backfield after the loss of Steve Gregory, who was forth on the team in tackles last season. So let’s dive into the Patriots safety depth heading into the 2014 season.
SS) Duron Harmon
Everyone was wondering who in the hell this kid was last season when the Patriots took him in the 3rd round with the 91st overall pick. Harmon turned into a pretty good player on the Patriots defense last season while sharing time with Steve Gregory. Since Gregory missed a lot of time last year, Patriots fans really got a glimpse at what a good pass defender Harmon actually may be here in New England. With the additions of Revis and Browner in the secondary I expect Harmon to get picked on but in the end I think this kid will be a special player.
My 2014 Duron Harmon Projection:
66(up 35) combined tackles, 1o(up 6) pass deflections, 1(up 1) forced fumble, 1(up 1) fumble recovery, 3(up 1) interceptions and 0.5(up 0.5) sacks
FS) Devin McCourty
We got to see a slim picture of what McCourty was like in his rookie season but that was when he was playing corner back. McCourty has made note that the two positions are very similar but in fact he feels like he is a better safety. McCourty has raw ability and a knack for picking off tough passed and be in the receivers faces. I expect McCourty to lead this secondary even with Revis and have a monster 2014 season. Like I said, the additions of two top-notch corners will make teams have to throw the ball down the middle of the field letting McCourty and Harmon have field days at safety.
My 2014 Devin McCourty Projection:
71(up 2) combined tackles, 17(up 8) pass deflections, 2(-) forced fumbles, 0(down 1) fumble recoveries, 6(up 5) interceptions and 0.5(up 0.5) sacks
Note: He will also be a Pro-Bowler
This former playmaker I believe will be the Patriots third best option at safety entering next season. In 2010 with New England he showed he could play a decent safety recording three interceptions but he is not known for his pass coverage at all. In fact he is known to give up big pays here and there which is one of the reasons he’s not starting.
My 2014 Patrick Chung Projection:
45 (down 15) combined tackles, 0(down 3) pass deflections, 0(-) forced fumbles, 0(down 1) fumble recoveries, 1(up 1) interception and 0.0(-) sacks
4) Nate Ebner
All signs point to this kid making the roster in 2014. He is a little undersized for a safety but is a ball hawk and a big hitter. Ebner is a nice option to have off your bench at safety.
My 2014 Nate Ebner Projection:
19(up 10) combined tackles, 0(-) pass deflections, 0(-) forced fumbles, 0(down 2) fumble recoveries, 1(up 1) interception and 0.0(-) sacks
Key losses at safety:
*Steve Gregory: 2013 numbers 79 combined tackles, 3 pass deflections, 0 forced fumbles, 0 fumble recoveries, 0 interceptions, and 1.0 sacks
Safeties on current roster who need to fight for their spot:
Patriots S Depth Chart Grade and Reason: C
I give the Patriots a C at this position because besides McCourty they don’t have much talent at this position who have proved themselves in the NFL yet. Although I give Harmon big projections, he has never had nearly those good of numbers and may not even be the starter heading into next season. Also, SS may be the Patriots weakest position that fans like myself have been calling for them to address for a while now. If Logan Ryan and/or Brandon Browner don’t get moved to safety I would expect two of the players above to fight for and make the roster for next season.