Ranking the Patriots 15 Best Players ahead of the 2023 Season

The Patriots kick off training camp on July 26th. Before rookies report next week, I will rank the Patriots fifteen best players in the order heading into this season. The list is

1. Matthew Judon, EDGE: Judon is not only the heart and soul of the defense, he is the heart and soul of the team. Signed as a free agent in 2021, Judon has been worth every penny of his four year, $54.5 million dollar contract. Judon has 28 sacks in two seasons with the Patriots and is one of the premier pass rushers in the game. He is their best player.

2. Rhamondre Stevenson, RB: Stevenson is a top ten running back in the NFL. He is the Patriots best offensive player and the numbers prove it. Last season was his first as the full time starter. Stevenson didn’t disappoint rushing for 1,040 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also caught 69 passes for 421 yards and a touchdown. Stevenson has developed into a three down back and one of the most complete running backs in the NFL.

3. Michael Onwenu, OG: Onwenu is one of the best interior offensive lineman in the league. Don’t think so? Come talk to me next spring when he ends up one of the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL. He is smart, tough and versatile. Onwenu can play both guard and tackle. He is pivotal to the Patriots offensive fortunes this season.

4. Kyle Dugger, S: Classic 3X3 safety who can do it all in the Patriots defense. Consistency has been an issue but when Dugger is playing at the level he is capable, he is an all-pro talent. With this being the last season of his contract, look for Dugger to step up and have a big season. He is a vital part of what the Patriots are going to do defensively in the back end this season. Look for him to step up as a leader as well.

5. Josh Uche, EDGE: Uche finally broke through last season finishing with 11.5 sacks. It took him awhile but Uche has finally turned into the player the Patriots thought they were getting when they drafted him in the second round in 2020. Now it will be interesting to see if he can replicate or build on last season. Uche will be plenty motivated headed into a contract year.

6. JaWhaun Bentley, ILB: Some people may not rank Bentley this high but in many ways, he has been one of the Patriots best defensive players the last two seasons and is one of the leaders of the defense. He is a key cog in terms of what the Patriots do defensively and a player that Bill Belichick leans on heavily to make all the front calls and adjustments.

7. Christian Barmore, DT: Barmore is one of the most talented players on the roster and while his first two seasons have been marred by injuries and inconsistency, he still has a ton of upside and is poised for a breakout season similar to what we saw from Josh Uche last season. He won’t finish with 11.5 sacks but he will make a lot of impact plays and should finish with five plus sacks on the season.

8. Jonathan Jones, CB: There is a reason Bill Belichick re-signed Jonathan Jones this off-season. He sees him as a valuable piece to the Patriots secondary who can play both cornerback or free safety if needed. Jones played boundary corner last season and was terrific despite some late season struggles. He will move back inside to nickel corner this season but don’t be surprised if he play outside again or even plays some free safety.

9. Marcus Jones, CB/KR: Jones proved to be a dynamic kick returner and playmaker last season. The rookie not only made plays in the return game but was also used as an offensive weapon in situational packages. Jones got better as the season went on defensively as well. He is projected to move inside as a dime corner and be the team’s primary kick returner. Do not be surprised to see Bill O’Brien use him on offense as well. Jones skill set and speed is just to good to not use on offense.

10. Adrian Phillips, S: The veteran safety is a 3X3 player who can play in any situation. Phillips has not only been a productive player on the field, he has also developed into one of the key leaders in the locker room as well. The Patriots rely on him a bunch to play around the box and support the run, a role he will fill once again this season. Phillips is an essential piece in the Patriots defense and one of the team’s ten best players.

11. Hunter Henry, TE: Henry could not replicate his 9 touchdown reception season of two years ago, last season. The entire offense struggled most notably quarterback Mac Jones. Jones struggles impacted Henry as his production dipped. Despite that, he is still one of the Patriots best offensive weapons and is a player primed for a bounce back season in Bill O’Brien’s offense. An offense that will rely heavily on 12 personnel. Henry is going into a contract season so if nothing else, his production will go up.

12. Ju-Ju Smith Schuster, WR: The newly signed free agent wide receiver instantly becomes the Patriots best receiver. The receiving corp is deep and Smith-Schuster is the best of the bunch. He has good hands, is strong after the catch and has enough elusiveness and speed to make plays and move the chains. Smith-Schuster should be a good fit in the Patriots offense, especially underneath in the three step and quick five step passing game.

13. David Andrews, C: Despite being 31 years old and battling injuries in recent seasons, Andrews is still one of the best centers in the game. He is fundamentally sound, tough and smart. He doesn’t lose many one on one battles often and plays his best football against some of the best interior defensive lineman in the league. Andrews will once again be the linchpin to the Patriots offensive line.

14. Mac Jones, QB: Mac could find himself in the top five of this list next summer if he bounces back after last season. Jones regressed mightily after a strong rookie season. Now with O’Brien back as offensive coordinator and a talented skill group, Jones has to be better. Everything is in place for him to prove that he can be the guy to lead this franchise in the coming years. In many ways, it is a make or break season for Jones.

15. Matthew Slater, WR: Slater is returning for his eighteen season. He is still one of the top special teams players in the NFL and the unquestioned leader of the team. Slater sets the tone on special teams and his impact resonates throughout the team. Let’s enjoy his greatness while he is still playing.

Added Bonus:
Christian Gonzalez, CB: I am high on Gonzalez. I do not care that he is a rookie. He is one of the most talented players on this team and he will prove that by playing well as a rookie. The length, ball skills and athleticism are off the charts. Gonzalez has a chance to be one of the best rookies in the NFL on either side of the ball. I expect him to make an instant impact on the backside as the Patriots starting boundary corner.