New England Patriots 50 most important players and coaches in 2017

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Tom Brady /
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FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 2: Rob Gronkowski
FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 2: Rob Gronkowski /

9. TE Rob Gronkowski

Get ready for a huge Rob Gronkowski return in 2017. The addition of Brandin Cooks should allow Gronk to become even more wide open. TB12 will love having RG back as an option, and defenses will have trouble finding a way to contain both Gronk and Cooks at the same time.

8. CB Malcolm Butler

Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore is a great cornerback duo to have. Though he’s now the No. 2, there will be times when Butler will still match up against opponents top receivers.

7. CB Stephon Gilmore

Welcome to Foxboro Stephon! As the top CB on the roster, we as fans will expect big things. New England should boast one of the best defenses in the NFL this season.

6. OC Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels has the most options he’s ever had on an offense for 2017. Expect a ton of creativity and new looks from Josh this season.

5. WR Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks is the biggest new addition for the New England Patriots this season. He will be a true deep ball threat for Tom Brady, and he can lineup both on the outside and in the slot. Expect 8+ touchdowns for Cooks in 2017.

4. LB Dont’a Hightower

I’m so glad that Hightower is back with the New England Patriots. He is the true leader of the defense. In 2016, Hightower made 31 tackles with 2.5 sacks, but he’s not all about the numbers. Dont’a’s heart and leadership set him apart from every other player on the defense.