As we look toward how the Pats will use FA & Draft to get better in 2018 and fill upcoming holes for 2019+, this is always the time when I wonder what the Pats coaching staff knows about its depth players that we fans don't know because of lack of access. There are players who may be under the radar due to injury or simply being buried behind reliable/productive vets. Guys like Edelman, Dion Lewis, and Malcolm Butler weren't counted on as quality depth by fans in the year of their breakout, but the coaches probably knew what happened was possible. On the flip side, there are guys like Rufus Johnson that appear very interesting, but don't materialize into anything. For sure there are more Rufus Johnsons than Julian Edelmans, but here are a few players I am interested to see if they become more than what they are today, and based on what the coaching staff thinks it has, could affect the way they approach the draft: Damarius Travis / David Jones My hope is that one of these 2 can provide the ST contribution on the 53 that Jordan Richards currently provides, but then provide more ceiling as a rotational contributor in the defense. Long term bonus would be if one of them can blossom into one of the starting S roles, as that group is aging and will need to be turned over in the not too distant future. But I'll happily settle for a short term upgrade to Richards. Ted Karras / Cole Croston I thought Karras played well (aside from the poor snap leading to a turnover) in his brief time replacing an injured Andrews. Whether he is purely depth or starter material, I don't know. But I bet the coaches know. This could simply be a case of being stuck behind 3 good players who mostly stayed healthy. Or he could be just a low ceiling reliable backup. Ditto for Croston who we know they like enough to protect on the 53 because he wouldn't likely get to the PS. We know from his college days that he is versatile, but can he play RT in the pros? Previously thought he was too small for T, but now up to 315, we may have a G/T who can backup Cannon and allow Waddle and Fleming to contribute to the comp pick formula next yr (both played well enough at a position of need around the league to get good offers and net good picks IMO). Solder either re-signs or retires IMO as I just don't see him leaving his son's medical team over money. I imagine he might be a year to year succession of 1 yr contracts from here. I imagine they will have vet T's in camp, but it would be really nice to have Solder/Cannon backed up by Garcia (thought I read somewhere he is gaining weight back, can't find a link) and Croston. If Croston isn't a fit at T, then hopefully 1 of these 2 becomes a startable option at RG if Mason proves too costly to extend. Riley McCarron We know important the slot position has been, and continues to be. McCarron tested better than Edelman in a couple categories (vertical, 3cone, 40), comparable in others (shuttle, broad jump), and falls short in size which may be an issue at a position that takes a pounding. WR is loaded on paper, depending on what happens with DA, but Britt is just a lottery ticket and I worry if Mitchell will see the end of his rookie contract with that knee. Brady doesn't seem to trust Dorsett even tho he gets open. There may or may not be room for McCarron... unless he can returns kickoffs and punts to save wear and tear from Edeldola. He is athletic youth at an aging skill set ... one that will be turning over sooner rather than later. I wouldn't mind another dart or 2 from this draft/UDFA to throw at the slot position. Harvey Langhi / Keionta Davis / Eric Lee I wish we were talking about Langhi taking the all important 2nd year jump, but instead he'll have to have another rookie year. I am hoping one of these guys can earn at least a rotational role. Getting a startable guy from this group would be a bonus. It will be interesting to see what Lee does with a full offseason in the system. I guess we'll find out if he was next-man-up worthy last year or simply last-man-up desperation. Jake Hollister Really impressed with his hands and ability to catch in traffic. Seems to be trusted on ST so he may have bought himself another year to get stronger and see if he can develop as a blocker. If he can be trusted to just adequately block in the 2-TE offense, there may be another personnel group for Josh to play with that we haven't had in a while. Otherwise he will just be the next David Thomas or AJ Derby but with ST value. As for injured players who could be on the rise... Jonathan Jones impressed, gaining more defensive snaps as the year progressed. Might he be in line for a 2015-2016 jump we saw with Butler? I'll take anything coming relatively close to that. Physically, a Ryan/Butler pairing looks similar to Gilmore/Jones. Unless Jones is miscast outside due to size and slot only, tho he isn't only half inch shorter than Butler... would have Rowe outside if the 2nd WR is a physical mismatch. I would welcome commentary from the more scout types on the board who have broken him down. Speaking of slot, REALLY curious what personnel packages might have looked like in SB if JJ didn't get hurt. Maybe it wouldn't have been any different if they were truly committed to big nickel and big dime, but I can't help but wonder. Rivers is still an unknown and chances to be impactful are probably best aimed at 2019 coming off ACL, but he should be able to rotate in and get valuable experience in the system in an "intern" yr coming off injury. VV is an interesting case because it seems he was best suited to rotate with Branch, and I was looking forward to seeing if a 2nd year leap was made. But his injury coupled with Branch's decline was a tough 1-2 punch to the chin on the interior. I wonder if the trickle down effect caused them to have to use Brown and Guy differently than they originally intended. Anyone else out there that intrigues you?