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Samsonite Make Your Case: Year 2 jump

One rainy morning in May is not going to resonate much in the grand scheme of the 2017 Patriots. With countless workouts, a full mini-camp, training camp and an entire preseason still to come, there will be plenty of time to evaluate the players and forecast how things might look in the upcoming season.

But patience has never really been one of PFW's virtues so we thought one practice was plenty to try to gauge what changes, if any, might be in store down the road. Obviously the Patriots brought in a number of newcomers, many of which will be counted on to contribute heavily to the team's success right away.

There are also a lot of young players, many entering their season seasons, who could emerge as much bigger contributors than they were as rookies. It's a process many coaches, including Bill Belichick, often refer to as the Year 2 jump. Belichick has mentioned that a player tends to show his biggest improvement between his rookie and sophomore seasons, therefore it only makes sense to try to determine which play might be in line for a significant rise in performance.

With a roster as talented as New England's that might not be easy, but there will be players such as Joe Thuney, D.J. Foster, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones, Elandon Roberts and Vincent Valentine - just to name a few - who could be candidates for such a rise.

So this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question is: Which player will enjoy the biggest Year 2 jump in 2017?

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PFW's Andy Hart says...

Vincent Valentine

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The 2016 third-round pick was a steady contributor for most of his rookie season but I believe he has the potential to be even more important this year. He has the size and mobility to be disruptive up front and perhaps push incumbents such as Malcom Brown and Alan Branch for more playing time in 2017.

The Patriots generally employ a rotation at defensive tackle and use a lot of bodies so Valentine should be able to garner playing time at the least. I feel he has the ability to be more than just a rotational player and could emerge as a starter down the line. 

Bill Belichick spent some time looking at defensive tackles during the offseason and that tells me he wasn't overly satisfied with the starters last year. If that's true then Valentine will get every opportunity to emerge as a full-time player, and I believe he will.
--AH

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PFW's Paul Perillo says...

Jonathan Jones

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The Patriots roster is filled with capable players at a variety of levels but one position that isn't necessarily stocked with quality depth is cornerback. Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler are the starters and Eric Rowe will likely factor in, but the need for a dependable option in the slot exists and Jones might be the guy to fill it.

Jones was primarily a special teams player as a rookie but he has excellent speed to handle those elusive inside receivers and could be a factor in the secondary. Based on an admittedly tiny sample of one OTA workout, it looks like the coaches might be giving him an opportunity to earn some playing time.

The 5-10, 190-pound Jones got his feet wet in the secondary last year but I feel he could slide past the likes of Cyrus Jones and Justin Coleman with a strong offseason and that will make him a great candidate for the proverbial Year 2 jump.
--PP

Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.

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