OTAs are about learning. Bill Belichick makes that clear.
And while the future Hall of Fame coach tells the media that spring work isn't about competition or evaluation, one has to think that players are being evaluated, on some level, every time they set foot in the Gillette Stadium complex.
So, the media can also probably evaluate players on some level with even the slightest access to non-contact practice action in shorts, as was afforded to reporters on Tuesday.
As such, PFW has a few admittedly too-early, knee-jerk reactions to players whose stock may be rising or falling, even if ever so slightly, on the lush green grasses of the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium.
Enjoy, but be sure not too overvalue these takeaways from the early stages of the roster competition. After all, OTAs are about learning, including from mistakes.
Adrian Clayborn – The veteran defensive end may be the most important addition of the offseason in New England. He's a proven, professional on the edge and looked just that when he lined up at right defensive end in OTA workouts. He even "beat" LaAdrian Waddle for a pressure on one of the first 11-on-11 reps. Nice first look for a nice addition to the front seven.
Danny Shelton – The trade addition was almost playing at a different speed than his teammates on the OTA field. Maybe that's what made him stand out, but the mammoth man showed a great motor and athleticism in the middle wearing his oversized and appropriately sweat-soaked sweatpants.
Ralph Webb – It may be a tough year for an undrafted rookie to make the roster given all the returning talent and competition. Webb, a productive four-year player in the SEC, showed quick feet and athleticism in his first New England practice. The running back depth chart is crowded, but at the very least Webb looks like a guy who'll be fun to watch in the preseason.
Julian Edelman/Derek Rivers – The ACL rehab buddies both were on the field looking solid. Edelman did punt return work and drills before heading to the lower field for rehab work. Rivers, last year's top pick, said he has no limitations at this point. Having both guys in the practice mix at this early point is a good sign for both sides of the ball.
Kenny Britt – Boy does the veteran look the part of an NFL receiver. He's big, muscular and pretty athletic. He also caught the ball quit well for most of the workout, showing sticking hands before one late-workout drop. The receiver position has a lot of competition, options and question marks. Britt looks to be very much in the mix after landing in New England mid-season a year ago.
Ryan Lewis/Keion Crossen – It seems like there is always a young, relatively unknown cornerback who lands a role on Bill Belichick's defense. While it's early, Lewis' reps opposite Stephon Gilmore are impressive for a returning practice squader. Crossen showed the speed and athleticism that got him drafted after popping onto New England's radar with a standout pro day. Cornerback will be a competitive spot, with plenty of veterans in the mix. But Lewis and Crossen are youthful names to keep an eye on.
Corey Bojorquez – The undrafted punter showed a strong leg with high bombs in his first work in front of the media. While veteran Ryan Allen's kicks looked better with tighter spirals, Bojorquez certainly appeared to have the more powerful foot. With Allen coming off a suspect season, the rookie may apply some pressure this summer.
Trent Brown/Isaiah Wynn – Either the huge veteran trade addition or the undersized top pick could very well be tasked with replacing Nate Solder at left tackle. Unfortunately both are returning from shoulder surgery and aren't ready to practice at this point. Every rep is important for newcomers, especially on the line as they battle for the right to protect the G.O.A.T. It's not their fault, but the two guys with potentially key roles are missing out.
Mike Gillislee – It's a new year for the running back who saw his role go from lead back to healthy scratch last season. His first day of the new year in front of the media didn't look great. He struggled in bag drills and drew the ire of veteran coach Ivan Fears. Based on his production last season and the competition at the position, Gillislee could be in a battle for his roster life.
Malcom Brown – Not a great spring for the former first-round pick. First the team declined to pick up his fifth-year option. Now, he's rehabbing on the lower field while the newcomer Shelton was making a strong showing in practice. It wouldn't be crazy to see Shelton take some of Brown's playing time. The sooner he's on the field the better it for him and the team.
Will Tye/James Ferentz/Adam Butler – It's a teaching camp, but it still drives coaches nuts when players don't know what they're supposed to do or have a penalty in practice. Tye was not immediately in a special teams grouping where he was supposed to be, and Joe Judge let him know about it. Ferentz and Butler were among a handful of players (Shelton too!) sent to run laps for false starts or jumping offside. It would also have been generous to call Butler's lap a jog. More like a power walk with swinging arms.
Brian Hoyer – With Tom Brady staying away from OTAs, the veteran backup was the highest-ranking quarterback. Though it probably didn't help that he was working without key guys Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, the passing game struggled quite a bit throughout the OTA session. Hoyer and rookie Danny Etling will get extra reps while Brady is gone and they probably need to make better use of them than was the case on Tuesday.
What do you think of our list? Let us know with a comment below!