Today we’re taking a closer look at the last line of defense — the safeties.
It was somewhat surprising to see the Pats bring back Duron Harmon on a four-year, $20 million deal, but it’s hard to complain about keeping a trio of veteran safeties together who have been amongst the best in the league since 2014.
The rotation is clear now. Devin McCourty plays on the back end on early downs but has been used more and more in coverage closer to the line of scrimmage on passing downs. Patrick Chung rarely comes off the field now as well and spends his time mostly in the box or in man-to-man coverage on tight ends.
It’s Harmon’s back end ability that allows the defense to move McCourty around and that kind of flexibility is invaluable.
We know what we’re getting with McCourty, Chung and Harmon, but it’s then bottom of the roster that might be the most intriguing for training camp. The team brought in a trio of rookie safeties who should push third-year player Jordan Richards, who fell off the radar in 2016.
An injury to one of the top three would immediately change the dynamic of the defense on the back end that we’ve gotten comfortable with for the last three seasons. So while it’s easy to just assume everything will be great at safety the complexion can change quickly and suddenly, and the lower end players could end up getting called upon to contribute.
Let’s take a closer look at the safeties and how rookies David Jones and Damarius Travis could be the undrafted rookie(s) to make the team this year.