Patriots’ Position Battles to Watch Ahead of 2022 NFL Season | Bleacher Report

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    The New England Patriots come into the 2022 NFL season with a few more defensive questions than in previous seasons.

    The Patriots will bring a revamped defensive unit to their Week 1 clash with the Miami Dolphins.

    Between now and then, New England’s staff has to find the right mix of players at linebacker and cornerback to be in the starting lineup for the opening contest.

    Matthew Judon is the only lock to start in the second layer of defense. New England brought in some new faces to complement the team’s top pass-rusher.

    Mack Wilson and Ja’Whaun Bentley lead the list of competitors to fill the other starting gigs at linebacker. That could end up as the positional battle to watch in training camp.

    New England also has some questions to answer at cornerback. The team drafted two players at the position to compete with Jalen Mills for the starting spot opposite Malcolm Butler.

    The Patriots have defined starters at wide receiver, but the abundance of players on the roster at the position make it the offensive situation to watch, so that we can figure out the order of targets from Mac Jones.

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    The Patriots would love if every linebacker produced the same output as Matthew Judon did last season.

    Judon led the team with 12.5 sacks in 2021. No other Patriots player had more than five takedowns.

    New England will rely on a handful of young players with a few years of experience to take over the roles around Judon.

    Mack Wilson, Josh Uche, Ronnie Perkins, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Anfernee Jennings could all make cases to be starters in training camp.

    Bentley was second on the team in solo tackles behind Kyle Dugger last season and he should have the inside track to one of the other starting spots.

    If that is the case, the Patriots will have a handful of players fighting for one spot next to Judon and Bentley.

    The pure amount of potential starters at linebacker make the position one of the most intriguing spots on the field in training camp.

    Even if certain players do not earn the starting position, they could still be fighting for snaps when the starters are off the field.

    A clearer pecking order will come in training camp, and the Patriots should hope multiple players impress so that they have depth to deal with the offensive talent throughout the AFC East.

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    The cornerback battle gained more intrigue after the 2022 NFL draft.

    The Patriots selected Marcus Jones and Jack Jones to provide more cover and competition for the veterans on the roster.

    Jones, Jones and Terrance Mitchell are the new faces to the position and all of them should compete with Jalen Mills and Jonathan Jones for the No. 2 cornerback spot.

    Mills could win the position opposite Malcolm Butler, but the competition is welcome since the Patriots need depth at that spot on the field to deal with the explosive offenses within the division.

    Jonathan Jones should start training camp with the inside track at the nickel cornerback spot, but like Mills, he could receive competition from the newer players in camp.

    The key for the Patriots is that they build up as much depth as possible before the season begins to make a proper challenge at the AFC East crown.

    Jabrill Peppers could also be a possibility at the corner if the Patriots want to get him more snaps, but he should start camp taking drills at safety.

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    The wide receiver competition is fascinating from the outside because the Patriots have so many bodies in the positional room.

    Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker should be No. 1 and No. 2 on the depth chart, but there are all sorts of questions behind them.

    An argument can be made that the Patriots do not have a clear-cut no. 1 wide receiver and that training camp will determine the order in which all the players earn snaps.

    Meyers led the Patriots in receptions with 83 in 2021. Kendrick Bourne was second on that chart with 55.

    However, Meyers only caught two touchdown passes. Bourne was the only wide out with five touchdown catches.

    Parker’s addition should cut into the production of one of those two players, and he may make someone further down the depth chart expendable.

    The selection of Tyquan Thornton in the 2022 NFL draft made the possibility of a veteran wide out being cut or traded before Week 1 even more likely.

    Nelson Agholor, N’Keal Harry and Ty Montgomery might be fighting for snaps if Thornton breaks out in training camp.

    If not, the fight for depth chart hierarchy could be muddled and may come down to the final week of training camp.

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