- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Tenth in a series of positional reviews of the 2009 Patriots season:
Cornerback: Shawn Springs, Leigh Bodden, Jonathan Wilhite, Darius Butler, Terrence Wheatley, Kyle Arrington
Stat check: Bodden led the team with 17 passes defended and tied for the team high with five interceptions. Springs started and finished the year as the left corner, appearing in 12 games with eight starts.
First instinct: Butler, a 2009 second-round draft choice (41st overall), shows promise to develop into a quality starter. He played in 14 games with five starts and his athleticism was impressive. On the flip side, improving his physicality in run support will help him become more of an all-around corner.
Storyline not to be overlooked: Wilhite’s inconsistencies and Wheatley's inability to break through. Wilhite (2008 fourth-round pick) leapfrogged Wheatley (2008 second-round pick) on the depth chart, appearing in 14 games with eight starts. While he displayed fluid movements and was often competitive in coverage, he still struggled to make plays on the ball. Wheatley played in just five games.
Future: Bodden, the most consistent corner this season, is a free agent. Every other player has multiple years left on their contracts.
Final thought: After a rough 2008 season with Deltha O’Neal and Ellis Hobbs 1-2 on the corner depth chart, there was improvement in 2009, especially considering there wasn’t always help in the form of a consistent pass rush.
POSITIONAL QUICK HITS