With some down time before training camp, we're conducting our annual, position-by-position examination of the Patriots roster. Today: cornerbacks.
Locks: Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones
Bubble: E.J. Biggers, Justin Coleman, Darryl Roberts, Jonathan Jones
Long shots:V'Angelo Bentley, Cre'von LeBlanc
BREAKDOWN:Butler is coming off what he even admits is a premature Pro Bowl season, but he's undoubtedly on that elite trajectory. Ryan, meanwhile, had a solid, if somewhat inconsistent 2015 campaign, and missed all the spring practices for unknown reasons (presumably because of injury). However, when healthy, he's likely going to start opposite Butler, unless rookie second-round pick Cyrus Jones flat-out wins the job in training camp – a distinct possibility. Either way, these three players are guaranteed to be on the roster, barring injury. Biggers, a vagabond veteran, was the only free agent signing this offseason and was given plenty of reps this spring, but faces serious competition from Coleman, a surprise contributor as a rookie last year. Roberts is coming off a rookie 2015 season spent almost entirely on IR and will have to fend off three upstart 2016 rookies to make the roster. Of those three newcomers, the other Jones, Auburn's Jonathan, was the most impressive during spring practices. At this point, he has an advantage over Bentley and LeBlanc, who could wind up being candidates for the practice squad.