A few leftovers from the weekly Patriots chat:
Bill (Hawaii): Mike, the linebacker position seems thin. Any pick-ups on the horizon?
Bill, I don't think there are any sure-fire upgrades on the open market compared to what is already on the roster. The top three of the depth chart is solid and set with Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins and then I think there is a competition for a few spots with the likes of Steve Beauharnais, James Anderson, Chris White, Josh Hull, Cameron Gordon, Ja'Gared Davis and others. As it often is at linebacker, especially with reserves, special teams will be a primary consideration when it comes to roster spots.
Cody (Illinois): Mike, I found Kenbrell Thompkins' story to be the most intriguing through OTAs this year. It sounds like he's playing better and with Aaron Dobson missing, could Thompkins be the starting wideout? Or will Dobson come back and take that spot?
Cody, I still give the edge to Dobson if he's on the field for the first day of training camp (he should be), but if the season was starting today I think it would be Thompkins. He's built some nice momentum in spring camps, and Dobson now has to try to do the same in training camp. Among the many competitions on the roster, that should be a fun one to watch. Dobson was drafted in the second round last year for a reason; they are expecting big things from him.
Dad (Maine): It appears that James Develin is getting some looks in OTAs and in minicamp as an H-back. Has he shown the skill set to pull this off? He's a big dude and seems to have reliable hands and we already know he's a load as a fullback. Do we see him more integrated in the offense this season, or is his activity in these practices more a curiosity?
Yes, I'd say Develin flashed the ability to handle the role and possibly contribute in it; some nice catches down the field and some coming in traffic. One thing to consider is that the team only has 53 roster spots, and if they are going to go with additional numbers at quarterback (3), receiver (6) and maybe offensive line (possibly 9 to 10), something has to give somewhere on offense. Maybe it's at tight end, and if a pure fullback like Develin can expand his duties and chip in at times, it just adds to his value.
Jim G (Nashua, New Hampshire): Do you think Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted because he has a lot of "intangibles" as he is a contrast to a quarterback like Ryan Mallett, who is known more for his strong arm?
Jim, I think it was a combination of intangibles, skills, and the value of the position (if you don't have a QB, or are prepared with a solid backup, the whole team is at risk). It's hard to find quarterbacks who fit what the team is looking for in this challenging system and Garoppolo was viewed as a unique fit. So you put all that together, and consider that Mallett is entering the final year of his contract, and I think those were the main factors in play.
Balarko (Los Angeles): Am I the only one who thinks that Patrick Chung won't make it to the 53-man roster?
I wouldn't call Chung a lock. If everyone is healthy, it looks to me like Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon are the starters, with Nate Ebner, Tavon Wilson, sixth-round pick Jemea Thomas, Chung and Kanorris Davis competing for likely two backup spots. Similar to the reserve linebackers, special teams will be a big consideration.