By Gian D'Ambra @TheRealG289 on April 3, 2014
The New England Patriots have veteran leaders surrounded by young, talented playmakers. For the team to make another run at multiple championships before Tom Brady retires, those young players need to step up and quickly become veterans. Here are five guys who can break out and help the team win more in 2014.
This fourth-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft was not expected to be great right away, if at all. Josh Boyce had only nine catches on 19 targets for 121 yards in his rookie campaign. Six of those nine catches were for first downs, but those numbers will need to improve greatly for him to make an impact in 2014.
Looking to get more carries with the departure of LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden still sits behind Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen on the depth chart. However, the Patriots haven't made any moves with running backs in free agency, so it looks like Bolden will get a chance to fill the void left by Blount.
Aaron Dobson was the Patriots' second-round pick in 2013 out of Marshall. He played well early in the season, but tailed off after that. He needs to be consistent during the entire 2014 season.
The Patriots' backup tight end Michael Hoomanawanui will be 26 years old and in his fifth season when the 2014 season starts. He has never had more than 146 receiving yards ... in a season! If Gronk gets hurt, he needs to step in and be better. Even if Gronk stays healthy, the two-TE set is a key to success for most teams in the NFL nowadays.
Kenbrell Thompkins only played in 12 games in 2013. All of his four touchdowns were caught by the middle of October. The undrafted 25-year-old second-year player should show more maturity and improvement than most second-year players in 2014. If he consistently plays well, this offense will greatly improve this season.
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