There is plenty of proven star power in New England.
In head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots have three of the greatest of all time at their respective jobs.
Heading into training camp 2018, which is officially now just two days away, the defending AFC Champions also have a long list of other stars who may not exactly reach GOAT status. Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower, Julian Edelman, James Develin, Stephen Gostkowski, Stephon Gilmore and Matthew Slater have all been selected for the Pro Bowl.
Then there are guys with obvious potential and pretty high expectations. Chris Hogan has shown the ability to make plays. Rex Burkhead had a breakout first season in Foxborough, even while missing time to injury. Danny Shelton is a former first-round pick looking for a career rebirth at Gillette Stadium. And various draft picks from this and past years may be on the verge of proving themselves as a NFL studs.
But with just two days left before fans hit the practice field with their favorite team, we look at two guys who may be most positioned for a breakout 2018 season in New England.
1. Trey Flowers – The fourth-year defensive end has been the rock of the Patriots pass rush over the last two seasons. He's a hardworking technician more than an elite edge athlete, but he's produced 7 and 6.5 sacks over the last two seasons, respectively. He's also stepped his game up in the postseason to the tune of 3.5 more sacks. Now he enters a contract year with some extra help in the rush thanks to the arrival of veteran Adrian Clayborn. Flowers could be poised for his first doubt-digit sack season. If that's the case, he'll not only make a name for himself but will also set up for a nice paycheck next spring.
2. Sony Michel – For the second time in his tenure in New England, Bill Belichick invested a first-round pick in a running back. Michel was an elite playmaker in a committee backfield in his career at Georgia. He can hit homeruns as both a runner and a pass catcher. He will have the benefit in his rookie season of playing in the shadow of guys like Gronkowski and, later, Julian Edelman. It could leave him with very favorable matchups and space to make plays. Michel should fit in nicely in the Patriots offense, help fill the void left by Dion Lewis' departure and offers Josh McDaniels another exciting weapon for his game-day attacks.
What do you think of our two choices? Other players who might be in line for a breakout season? Let us know with a comment below!