NFL New England Patriots

10 New England Patriots Players to Watch in 2014

10 New England Patriots Players to Watch in 2014

New England Patriots
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The New England Patriots are the kings of the AFC East and looking to continue their dominance within the division this season behind an improved roster loaded with young talent. The Patriots need their young players to step up this season if the team wishes to fight their way through the AFC Playoffs and into the Super Bowl.

Here are the the top ten players to watch this season in New England.

10. WR Kenbrell Thompkins

Kenbrell Thompkins New England Patriots
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10. WR Kenbrell Thompkins

Kenbrell Thompkins New England Patriots
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Thompkins was a key contributor during his 2013 rookie season where he collected 32 receptions for 466 yards (14.6 avg) and four touchdowns in 12 games (eight starts). Thompkins is by no means a No. 1 receiver, but he does possess the type of body and ability that New England values in their receivers. He could be in line for a sneaky good season in 2014.

9. FS Devin McCourty

Devin McCourty
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9. FS Devin McCourty

Devin McCourty
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McCourty is one of the NFL's most underrated free safeties and is a key contributor to the success of the New England defense. He is coming off a decent 2013 seasons where he collected 69 total tackles (48 solo), nine passes defensed, one interception and two forced fumbles. With two new corners in town, who have the ability to lock down their respective assignments, look for McCourty to be freed up to roam the field and play off the quarterback.

8. WR Aaron Dobson

Aaron Dobson
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8. WR Aaron Dobson

Aaron Dobson
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Dobson was another key contributor in 2013 as a rookie, collecting 37 receptions for 519 yards (14.0 avg) and four touchdowns in 12 games (nine starts). Dobson has a huge body and was one of the key red zone targets used by QB Tom Brady in 2013. He was quite inconsistent during his rookie season and struggled catching the football. If he can improve that facet of his game, Dobson could be a nice receiver for New England in 2014.

7. OLB Jamie Collins

Jamie Collins
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7. OLB Jamie Collins

Jamie Collins
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Collins is perhaps the most athletic player on the New England defense and will likely be featured this season as not only a pass rusher, but also as a coverage specialist. He played well during his rookie campaign in 2013, collecting 43 total tackles (24 solo) and four passes defensed in 16 games (eight starts). With LB Brandon Spikes now out of town, Collins' role within the defense will increase, meaning his stats will shoot through the roof.

6. WR Brandon LaFell

Brandon LaFell
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6. WR Brandon LaFell

Brandon LaFell
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LaFell had quite a nice season in 2013 working as the Carolina Panthers' No. 2 receiver for QB Cam Newton, collecting 49 receptions for 627 yards (12.8 avg) and five touchdowns in 16 starts. LaFell has been a consistent 600-yard receiver over the past three seasons, but that number could increase this season working with his new QB, Tom Brady. LaFell should be featured as New England's No. 1 receiver in 2014.

5. DT Dominique Easley

Dominique Easley
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5. DT Dominique Easley

Dominique Easley
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Easley will work in as the team's No. 3 defensive tackle this season after being selected with the 29th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft out of the University of Florida. He is coming off an ACL tear but should be ready to go at some point during his rookie season. Easley provides an intriguing pass rushing defensive tackle to pair with DE Chandler Jones.

4. RB Stevan Ridley

Stevan Ridley
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4. RB Stevan Ridley

Stevan Ridley
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Ridley is going to understand how to hold onto the football eventually, right? Sure he will. He put together a solid 2013 campaign rushing for 773 yards and seven touchdowns on 178 carries (4.3 avg) in 14 games (six starts). Ridley has been in New England's dog house as of late due to his inability to hold onto the football, but it's likely that the former LSU star will finally get it and become the back New England desperately needs.

3. DE Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones
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3. DE Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones
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Jones has been one of the league's top young pass rushers during his short tenure in the league. In his sophomore season, Jones collected an astounding 79 total tackles (40 solo), 11.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 16 starts. Now entering his third season, Jones will look to break out in a big way for New England. He surely has the ability to do so, and I believe we will see him cross the 15-sack barrier in 2014.

2. RB Shane Vereen

Shane Vereen
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2. RB Shane Vereen

Shane Vereen
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Everyone in New England loves their versatile back in Vereen. Unfortunately, Vereen missed the majority of the 2013 season, only playing in eight games and only collecting one start with 44 carries for 208 yards (4.7 avg) and one touchdown, but his effectiveness as a receiver is what has him this high on the list after collecting 47 receptions for 427 yards (9.1 avg) and three touchdowns. Vereen is similar to Darren Sproles versatility-wise.

1. CB Darrelle Revis

Darrelle Revis
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1. CB Darrelle Revis

Darrelle Revis
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Revis-Island now resides in New England, and he could very well make the lives of Ryan Tannehill, EJ Manuel and Geno Smith much more difficult than they were in 2013. Revis is coming off a nice season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which he collected 50 tackles (43 solo), a sack, 11 passes defensed, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Revis instantly boosts New England's defense and takes them to the next level.