Second-year Patriots in spotlight

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
10:45
AM ET
Gil Brandt's piece on NFL.com highlighting Aaron Dobson among second-year players in the NFL he projects will make a big jump got us thinking about the rest of the Patriots' sophomore class.

In the best-case scenario for the Patriots, here's a snapshot look at a reasonable role that some of those players might be able to fill.

LB Jamie Collins (second round, 52nd overall) -- After playing 25 percent of the defensive snaps during the regular season as a rookie, he emerges as a three-down linebacker, seldom leaving the field.

WR Aaron Dobson (second round, 59th overall) -- Top outside receiver, providing a down-the-field threat.

CB Logan Ryan (third round, 83rd overall) -- Vying for a starting role opposite Darrelle Revis, while possibly expanding his duties to include some safety work alongside Devin McCourty if depth becomes an issue there. He played 51.7 percent of the defensive snaps during the 2013 regular season.

S Duron Harmon (third round, 90th overall) -- Starter alongside McCourty, adding size (6-0, 205) and smarts to the back end. He played 36.9 percent of the defensive snaps last year and the game wasn't too big for him.

WR Josh Boyce (fourth round, 102nd overall) -- Primary kickoff returner and part of the top-five receiving mix after playing 14 percent of the offensive snaps last year.

DE Michael Buchanan (seventh round, 226th overall) -- Nickel pass-rusher with better discipline in his rush lanes.

LB Steve Beauharnais (seventh round, 235th overall) -- Top reserve linebacker and core special-teamer to fill the void created by Dane Fletcher's free-agent defection to Tampa.

WR Kenbrell Thompkins (undrafted) -- Competes for top outside receiver role after playing 46.3 percent of the offensive snaps during the 2013 regular season.

DT Chris Jones (claimed on waivers; sixth round, Texans) -- Top interior sub rusher after a 2013 rookie season in which he exceeded expectations (68 percent of the defensive snaps in the regular season).

DT Joe Vellano (undrafted) -- Bulks up and competes for backup role after playing 57.7 percent of the defensive snaps in 2013.

P Ryan Allen (undrafted) -- Builds on strong rookie season by gaining more control and cutting down on touchbacks.

WR/TE Mark Harrison (undrafted) -- After spending last year on injured reserve (foot), he competes for a roster spot, possibly as a "move" tight end.

G Josh Kline (undrafted) -- Competes for a starting role at guard after emerging late last season.

C/G Chris Barker (undrafted/claimed on waivers, Dolphins) -- Competes for roster spot after spending a full season in a reserve role on the 53-man roster.

C Braxston Cave (undrafted/claimed on waivers, Browns) -- After a year of grooming on the practice squad, the Notre Dame alum competes with Ryan Wendell for the center job.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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