Good morning! This Friday marks the second-ever installment of "Around the AFC East", a weekly feature in which each of the lovely AFC East blogs here at SB Nation trades questions about the teams in the toughest division in football. We start off the discussion this morning with Tommasse from Pats Pulpit:
Buffalo Rumbings: What role do you expect your first-round pick, S Brandon Meriweather, to assume? Will he see significant playing time this year, or will he be backing up the veterans in the defensive backfield for a while?
Tommasse, Pats Pulpit: "I think he'll be a valuable second stringer early in the season and could possibly move into a starting role later in the season. I personally don't like to think of a rookie starting in my defensive backfield.
A lot depends on the health of the starters. Meriweather is currently slated at free safety behind Eugene Wilson and Artrell Hawkins. I think he'll have no problem moving past Hawkins, but Wilson, while probably not quite as gifted as Meriweather, has several years experience and he knows the Patriots defensive scheme, which tends to be fairly complex.
I don't anticipate Meriweather will play strong safety behind Rodney Harrison and James Sanders, though he might get mixed in there when he learns the defense well enough. He might also see some time at cornerback, especially if Asante Samuel ends up sitting out or in a different uniform.
In a perfect world, Meriweather will watch and learn and work his way in and, maybe, by season's end be ready to assume a starting role. I still think I'd rather have a veteran starting in the playoffs. But what a player to come off the bench."
Interesting stuff about a player who, in my mind, was one of the most questionable first-round picks this past season. Meriweather certainly has a ton of talent, but he's yet another player the Pats brought in with big-time character issues. If he can stay out of trouble and play football, the Pats have another scary, multi-dimensional athlete in their defensive backfield. The jury's still out on that one, however.