With some down time before training camp, we’re conducting our annual, position-by-position examination of the Patriots roster. Today: safeties.
Locks: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards
Bubble: Nate Ebner, Brandon King, Kamu Grugier-Hill
Long shots: Cedric Thompson
BREAKDOWN: Like last summer, the safety situation is only a bit clearer than at cornerback. Co-captain McCourty and Chung are your starters, injuries notwithstanding, of course. In their stead, Harmon – who wasn’t seen during the spring workouts – and second-year man Richards are proven fill-ins. Ebner is currently on team-approved sabbatical to pursue an Olypmic rugby dream and might miss most of the preseason. He did, however, ink a two-year deal with New England this offseason, so, chances are, he’ll be back eventually in a mostly special teams role. The coaches seem to like King, however, who often works with the linebackers and is another special teams ace. Draft choice Grugier-Hill is another LB-DB hybrid and could challenge either King or Ebner for a spot on the 53. Thompson has some experience from last year’s practice squad, but needs a lot of help to win a full-time job this year.