In the lead-up to 2022 Training Camp, we're inspecting the Patriots roster position by position. Today, an examination of the cornerbacks.
- Locks: Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones, Jack Jones
- Bubble: Terrance Mitchell, Malcolm Butler, Myles Bryant
- In the Mix: Shaun Wade, Joejuan Williams
Analysis: With the departure of J.C. Jackson in free agency to the Chargers, the Patriots can expect to have at least one new starting cornerback in 2022 and free agent signings Malcolm Butler and Terrance Mitchell are the top candidates for the job. Butler spent 2021 out of football but didn't look like he had lost much of his usual tenacity during OTAs. Mitchell has 51 career starts and is coming off his two solid seasons with the Browns and Texans, defending 23 passes and forcing six fumbles.
Both should push Jalen Mills, who started 17 games last year but was missing from the playoff loss. Mills could also be pushed by rookie Jack Jones, who was active and around the ball a lot during minicamp. Jones is a bit undersized but doesn't play like it and had a college knack for getting his hands on a lot of passes.
The return of Jonathan Jones should provide a nice boost to the group. He was missed after being lost to injury in 2021 and is an excellent matchup piece for the diverse array of fast receiving threats across the league. There's good slot depth behind him with the versatile Myles Bryant entering his third year with the team and rookie Marcus Jones, who should contribute as a returner before he cracks the secondary lineup.
Shaun Wade remains an unknown quantity after joining the team in late August and never seeing any significant game action. Joejuan Williams enters the final year of his rookie deal as he continues to provide depth and look for a significant role on defense.
There are a number of questions with the cornerback group, but also a number of interesting players that could finally get their shot. Mitchell is an underrated pro who should fit right in, while the rookies are sure to make some plays in training camp. With a daunting slate of passing offenses on the schedule, the cornerbacks will be tested early and often throughout the season.