3 Most Underrated Players on Patriots Roster
While the New England Patriots’ roster is filled with many talented players as the post-Tom Brady era begins in Foxboro, there are a few members of the team that have flown under the radar and have not received their due praise for the value they can provide to the Patriots. That’s likely because their play in New England has been minimal, non-existent, or not noticed by the public prior to this year.
But here’s a chance to put those players in the proper spotlight. Let’s go over the three most underrated players on the Patriots roster ahead of the 2020 season, in no particular order.
1) Adrian Phillips, S
It seems like I am always talking about Adrian Phillips. The signing of Phillips was the first move in a series of signings and draft picks that led me to believe the Patriots are building an RPO-proof defense. While New England is by no stretch of the imagination building a defense centered around Phillips and second-round pick Kyle Dugger, guys like them will be a piece of the puzzle, especially Phillips, as he will be key at stopping the run-pass option, covering tight ends man-to-man, and much more.
The sky is the limit for the different ways to use Phillips. He has endless versatility, lining up all over the field, at almost every position on defense and then on special teams. Phillips' versatility was the biggest reason he was signed by New England and his versatility alone will be a big factor in winning or losing games this season against quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Deshaun Watson.
2) John Simon, EDGE
My prediction for John Simon is that he will start somewhere on the front seven next season and will see a crazy jump in production from Year 2 to Year 3 with the Patriots. He has a strong case to be the starting defensive end opposite of Chase Winovich. However, he also has the skillset to be a starting outside linebacker on New England’s defense. In all likelihood, he could see some snaps at both positions, especially early on in the year as some of the other contenders at the starting outside linebacker positions lack the age, experience, and polish that Simon offers.
Simon is truthfully one of the most underrated players on the team, which is why he earned the distinction of the most underrated player on the 2019 New England squad back in January. Simon made a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2 with the Patriots last year. He now enters a contract year and will find even more playing time.
Simon is poised for a breakout campaign in 2020.
3) Jermaine Eluemunor, OL
This one will probably be a much harder case to present because many either do not know much of Eluemunor or have written him off for some strange reason. He also really hasn’t been too exposed to fans, as he quietly saw snaps in ten games last season. A lot of those snaps were in replacement of injured players and/or him reporting as a tackle-eligible tight end. That’s a nice transition into why he is on this list as a guy who is underrated heading into next season.
Eluemunor was dubbed likely to be the prime candidate to start at left guard after he was tagged this offseason. Later, likely after learning that Tom Brady would not be returning to the team, the Patriots went along and used that extra money to franchise tag Joe Thuney. Those Eluemunor rumors then quickly died. However, that does not mean he is not capable of starting (let’s not forget that the Patriots traded a fourth-round pick for him last August). They have a lot of optimism and a lot invested in Eluemunor, which is what leads me to believe he will make the final 53-man team, and could play a big role for New England in the future if they can’t work things out with Thuney, or if they get hit with the injury bug again next season.
Eluemunor should make the team because he provides versatility to a unit that most certainly needs it. He can play both guard and tackle, as he has made starts at both positions. With that kind of ability, being able to step in on an offensive line that is yet to play a full season together is valuable. New England’s offensive line is constantly bombarded by injuries. In fact, Thuney was the only one of the projected starters (which also includes Isaiah Wynn, David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon) that did not get injured at some point last season.
The Patriots have started to really value versatility on defense, it seems. But keeping Eluemunor around would indicate that versatility is not just a defensive approach this year. While he must get in shape to really make an impact, Eluemunor can be a Swiss-Army knife on the offensive line and ensure the Patriots are never caught empty-handed this season.