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Training Camp Positional Snapshot: Cornerbacks

In the lead-up to 2023 training camp, we’re inspecting the Patriots roster position by position. Today, an examination of the cornerbacks.

Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31).
Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31).

ANALYSIS

The Patriots were busy at cornerback this offseason, retaining Jonathan Jones on a two-year deal and then spending the 17th-overall selection in the draft on Oregon's Christian Gonzalez. Jones can play anywhere in the secondary and knows the defense inside and out. His value increased when Devin McCourty retired, leaving Jones as the de facto veteran leader now.

Jones played a career-high 914 snaps in 2022, with 778 of them coming on the outside. After spending his early years in the slot with some safety responsibilities mixed in, the Auburn Tiger refined his role and expanded his value.

Gonzalez's presence should help Jones stay in even better position to succeed, as his size and standout athletic ability are welcome additions with the Patriots consistently facing a bevy of uber-talented receivers. Still just a fresh 21-years-old, Gonzalez will need some time to develop but has all the tools and all the coaching he'll need to help him succeed. He'll get plenty of interesting work in joint practices against the Packers and Titans.

The slot corner position figures to have some good competition this summer between three-year vet Myles Bryant and second-year do-it-all player Marcus Jones. Jonathan Jones could also be in the mix here at times, as the defense boasts a number of skilled players that can be deployed in different ways. Marcus Jones' cover skills were one of his strengths in college, but he had some growing pains when thrust into action late in 2022 due to injury.

Jalen Mills' ability to play safety should also help expand the size of his role in the secondary, while he provides valuable insurance should Jack Jones' offseason legal issues cause him to miss time. Jones looked like an easy starting rotational fit on the outside and was a standout making plays on the ball during OTAs, but now his future could be murky depending on how his situation plays out this summer. It's an unfortunate area of uncertainty at what looked like a position of strength following offseason team activities.

Veterans Quandre Moseley, Shaun Wade and Rodney Randle provide training camp depth, while Day 3 draft selections Ameer Speed and Isaiah Bolden both had standout special teams careers in college. There should be a roster spot or two to be won by these under-the-radar players.

Jonathan Jones and Gonzalez are an intriguing top-two, while Marcus Jones' strides in his second season will be fun to watch for. But uncertainty with Jack Jones, how things come together with Myles Bryant and Jalen Mills, and any untapped potential at the lower end of the depth chart remain the big question marks for the cornerback group as the team enters training camp.

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