New England Patriots: 5 second-year studs destined to shine in 2021

New England Patriots running back J.J. Taylor Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots running back J.J. Taylor Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /
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New England Patriots
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /

With NFL training camp over a month away, the New England Patriots will not only have a very intriguing quarterback battle on tap, but they will also have some interesting battles at some key positions.

While some of the bigger stories facing the team like the contract status of Stephon Gilmore will take center stage over the next few weeks and perhaps into training camp, eyes will not only be on first year players like Mac Jones, Christian Barmore and Ronnie Perkins, but there will be some Year 2 players expected to make a major leap in 2021.

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Throughout the offseason, Bill Belichick has added quite a few players to the roster.  Along with the top rookie additions named above, the coach and general manager went on an uncharacteristic spending spree in free agency.

New England Patriots second-year players have a chance to shine

In signing prime free agents like Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Matthew Judon, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, as well as bringing back linebacker Kyle Van Noy, Belichick took care of some key positional needs.  However, there will be a big emphasis on the team’s youth this season and not just at the quarterback position.

There will be several younger players in some key positions given the opportunity to not only do their job but make monumental leaps in establishing themselves as key players on the team in 2021 and into the future.

As we take a look forward, the 2020 New England Patriots draft class will have an opportunity to shine this season.  Aside from offensive lineman Michael Owenu, who already shined as a rookie, let’s take a look at five Year 2 players who will have more of an opportunity to shine in 2021.