Future Focus: Cornerbacks

Eleventh in a series of positional "look-aheads" for the Patriots:

Cornerback: Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, Jonathan Wilhite, Darius Butler, Tony Carter, Thad Turner

Stat check: McCourty, the team’s first-round draft choice, started all 16 games and finished with seven interceptions, the second highest total ever by a Patriots rookie. He earned a Pro Bowl berth.

First instinct: If Bodden returns to health after missing the 2010 season, the Patriots have a chance for one of the NFL’s better 1-2 combinations.

Storyline not to be overlooked: Butler at a crossroads of sorts. The 2009 second-round draft choice didn’t make the 1st-to-2nd year jump that the team had hoped. Can he turn it around in the other direction?

Future: McCourty is signed through 2014, while Bodden is locked up through 2013. Arrington is an exclusive rights free agent, which ensures he’ll be back, while Butler is inked thorugh 2012. Wilhite’s deal expires after the 2011 season, in which he’s scheduled to earn $1.2 million.

Final thought: The top of the depth chart looks strong, assuming Bodden returns to full health and his 2009 level of play. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Patriots add to the position in the draft, creating more competition deeper down the depth chart.

Your thoughts: How do you think the Patriots should approach the situation at cornerback? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog.