Checking the locks: New England Patriots' safeties add infusion of youth

Devin McCourty signed a lucrative five-year deal with the Patriots in the offseason. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

As part of a preview for New England Patriots training camp (first practice July 30) and to re-familiarize ourselves with the roster, it's time to bring back the "checking the locks" series. Today, we continue with safeties.

Sure-fire locks: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards, Duron Harmon

On the bubble: Nate Ebner, Tavon Wilson

Trying to get in the door: Brandon King

Analysis: McCourty is the definition of a "sure-fire lock" after signing a five-year, $47.5 million contract in the offseason, while Richards -- the second-round pick out of Stanford who was a surprise to some clubs who had him rated lower -- also falls into that category based on his draft status. There was a temptation to put Ebner in that spot as well based on his special-teams contributions, but because both he and Wilson have base salaries that are rising in the final year of their deals, it landed them closer to the bubble. Wilson, in particular, could be most affected by the drafting of Richards. One of the things I'm interested in watching this year is how Chung's play looks different, if at all, without two press-man corners in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner at cornerback. Chung seemed to play more freely knowing he had those two solid corners on the outside last year.

Checking the locks 2015

Cornerbacks in transition

Running backs closely bunched in competition