Checking the locks: Patriots' CBs


As part of this slow time on the NFL calendar, when we'll be taking a break to recharge for the 2014 season, we introduce the pre-produced "checking the locks" series in which we analyze the players on the Patriots' roster who are "locks" to stick. Today, it's cornerbacks.

Sure-fire locks: Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan

Trying to get in the door: Justin Green, Dax Swanson, Malcolm Butler, Travis Hawkins

Analysis: This is one of the most clear-cut positions on the Patriots' roster, in part because of the team's aggressive free-agent approach with Revis and Browner. They are the projected starters and their ability to play effective press coverage at the line of scrimmage could be a major factor in improving the team's third-down defense (26th in the NFL last year). With Arrington the top option in the slot and Dennard and Ryan with 23 regular-season starts between them, that's some quality depth. One factor to consider: Browner is suspended for the first four games of the regular season and won't count against the initial 53-man roster. That could potentially create an early-season opening for one of the younger corners to sneak onto the initial roster. Of that group, Green showed he was competitive in limited action in 2013, and Swanson, Butler and Hawkins all had notable pass-breakups in spring camps. This position looks to be in good shape, assuming Dennard comes back from reported offseason shoulder surgery.