Top 5 Underrated Patriots Players From 2019 Season
Outside of players like Stephon Gilmore, Julian Edelman, and Tom Brady, there are players on the New England Patriots' roster that fly under the radar while playing a significant role for the reigning Super Bowl champions. Each of these players have a big impact on games, but go unnoticed many times because of the position they play.
At PatriotMaven, we don't let those players go unnoticed, because we understand how important their roles are with the team.
New England's historic defense this season was peppered with talent, all of which got brushed over in conversations because of players like Gilmore, Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins Sr., all of whom made flashy plays on that side of the ball and thus drew the attention of fans watching. For the offense, the absence of one player played a big part in the team taking a step back in their run game this season, while another player on that unit was top 3 at his position.
With that being said - let's take a look at the top 5 most underrated players on the Patriots roster for the 2019 season.
5. Lawrence Guy
Lawrence Guy is a powerful, disruptive force on the defensive line. He has quietly developed into the Patriots' top run stopper. Much like defensive tackles of the past, he can play several positions on the defensive line.
He is a key cog of New England's front-seven that has started to more respected throughout the league. As a former seventh-round draft selection by the Packers, Guy has carved out the perfect role for himself with the Patriots. Because of the position he plays, he may be hard to find at times during the game, especially on run plays when the TV camera can't see into the congestion within the trenches. But don't let that fool you - Guy is shining bright between the tackles.
4. James Develin
Another guy who played a big role in the Patriots' 2018 playoff run was the fullback, James Develin. While Butler was opening lanes for others in the pass rush game, Develin was opening holes for Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel.
Unfortunately, Develin was placed on IR this season after a neck injury. New England struggled to find much in the run game after that. Michel struggled in his second year. While the loss of Develin is not the only reason the run game could not get going, it was certainly a big factor. So, even though Develin didn't play for much of this season, he is added to this list because his absence had a much bigger than many think.
Develin will, in all likelihood, be ready for training camp, as there were talks of him potentially coming back this season. Instead, the Patriots decided to bring Isaiah Wynn and N'Keal Harry off IR. That made Develin ineligible to return, as only two players can be activated off the IR in a given year.
Develin should be ready for action in 2020, which should help New England's run game bounce back and be closer to their 2018 form.
3. Joe Thuney
If this list was made last year, the Patriots left guard, Joe Thuney would have been no. 1 on it for sure. He is a top guard in the league have his effort during the 2019 season. One has to think New England is really regretting not coming to terms on a contract extension before the season started. Thuney, when he hits free agency this March, which likely be offered a contract from another team for around $15 million/year.
After this season, a lot more people have started to appreciate Thuney more and know his name. Yet, he still does not receive the kind of recognition other top guards receive in the league.
There is a very real chance that Thuney does not return next season. With limited cap space and his likely high asking price, it would take some money maneuvering to see him back in Foxboro. This would be the second season in a row that a key part of the Patriots' offensive line left New England (left tackle Trent Brown signed with the Raiders last offseason).
Just like Guy, you probably did not see Thuney's excellence this season because of him battling it out in the trenches. But Thuney was not only the best offensive lineman New England had this season, he was also one of the best players at his position in the NFL. Because of that, New England will likely have to draft a player early in the 2020 draft to make up for the loss of him. But whoever plays left guard for them likely won't play up to the level Thuney did this season.
2. Adam Butler
Adam Butler has quietly been a huge force on the Patriots' defensive line dating back to last season. However, he continues to progress and has become a pivotal rotational player for New England's defense.
What Butler does for the Patriots frequently does not show up on the stat sheet. Yet, he is a key piece to getting pressure on the quarterback. He is almost always in the face of opposing QBs. Anytime a defensive lineman can apply pressure on offenses like Butler does - they are worth keeping around.
Butler is a restricted free agent this offseason. We will see what round tender New England places on him this offseason.
1. John Simon
The most under-appreciated Patriot has to be edge rusher, John Simon. Although he almost never shows up on the stat sheet, he does some amazing work for this team. Most notably, his ability to set the edge is top notch. All season he did a great job of trying to force runs back inside.
Despite all this work, Simon is rarely talked about. He was picked up before the playoffs last season, impressed then, earned himself a contact extension last offseason, and had a tremendous 2019 season. Everything Simon has done on this team has been earned and there is something to admire about that.
Simon also did very well in a difficult spot during the game against the Baltimore Ravens back in November. He found himself on an island, in man to man situations against presumed MVP Lamar Jackson. Jackson made edge players pay in similar situations all season. However, Simon, with great angling and pursuit, mitigated several runs by the quarterback.
It is time to start giving Simon a little more credit on defense. It is also potentially time to sit down and talk about another extension with him as his contract expires next year. New England already waited too long to sign Thuney, and will now pay the price when he hits free agency this offseason. Simon is a guy who could explode next season and merit more money than what he would get right now.