2. Nick Folk
Folk deserves to be New England’s starting kicker at the beginning of the season. Not only is he an accomplished Pro Bowler, but he’s also been close to automatic for the Patriots since joining them in 2019, making 89.3% of his field goals and 91.3% of his extra points.
Unfortunately for Folk, a couple of things are working against him. One is his age (38). Another is that his performance started to dip last year, and his field goal success rate has now declined in two straight seasons.
The third and most important is that New England drafted his replacement in the spring, taking Chad Ryland in the fourth round.
Folk has looked good in preseason so far, so the Patriots seem likely to open the season with two kickers. But if Folk hits a rough patch at any point, Belichick will be quick to replace him with Ryland to see if the rookie can do better.
It’s a tough spot for Folk to be in, but the Pats probably want to see what they have in Ryland at some point and see if he’s able to handle the pressure of kicking in the NFL.