Mike Gillislee's opportunity puts him in position for potential big impact

For July 4, here's a projection of which New England Patriots free-agent signee might produce the most fireworks in 2017.

Anthony, with trade acquisitions such as Brandin Cooks not eligible because he wasn't acquired as a free agent, I narrowed my choices to Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead because both project to be significant parts of the team's running back corps. I'll go with Gillislee.

Spring practices weren't the best showcase for Gillislee, whose forte isn't necessarily catching the football. So his role on the team, and his potential impact, will be better assessed when the pads come on and there is hitting and the running game can develop with few restrictions.

This is one of the areas I'm most interested to watch in training camp: Will Gillislee be an upgrade over LeGarrette Blount?

The Patriots will still have James White, Dion Lewis, Burkhead and possibly D.J. Foster at running back, so it won't all fall on Gillislee. But Gillislee projects as the most likely running back to fill the void left by Blount, who is now with the Eagles. It's a big opportunity for him.