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Cameron McGrone Patriots

Why Patriots’ Cameron McGrone Is Poised For Breakout 2022 Season

  • Ryan Fowler
  • June 20, 2022
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For many, the name Cameron McGrone fails to resonate. A fifth-round selection of the New England Patriots back in 2021, the Michigan product spent a ton of time watching during his rookie season. Watching practice, watching film, watching games from the sideline. After suffering a torn ACL late in the Wolverines’ 2020 campaign, his upcoming season at 100% health has introduced a player with an immense amount of youth and upside for an aging Patriots defense.

“I’m very excited,” McGrone said. “There’s no nervous bone in my body… the time is now.”

Entering the summer with a year in the classroom has offered McGrone a unique advantage as he prepares for his first snaps on NFL-branded turf. While the Patriots failed to add any linebacking talent both in the draft and in free agency, opting to re-sign their own in Ja’Whaun Bentley. By not adding fresh bodies adjacent to Bentley and veteran Josh Uche, 2022 could see McGrone progress into a breakout star for Bill Belichick. With Kyle Van Noy and Chase Winovich elsewhere, and a failure—as of yet—to re-sign Jamie Collins or Dont’a Hightower, McGrone has found himself with a clear avenue to a large body of work alongside Anfernee Jennings, Raekwon McMillan, and Mack Wilson.

McGrone is an exceptionally explosive, forceful linebacker who is best at defending the run. He’s an athlete whose diagnosing ability ranked among the best in the 2021 class—McGrone is rarely found out of position and is a talent to trust at the lungs of the defense both in the run and in space. A textbook wrap-up tackler who also displays high-level footwork, while he was looked upon as a prospect that wouldn’t slip out of day two early in the 2020 college season, tearing his ACL consequently moved him down draft boards and into the lap of Belichick. 

After a year on the sidelines, reports out of Foxborough have been overwhelmingly positive about the second-year talent.

“It was really exciting to see him out there… he plays fast,” linebackers coach Steve Belichick said. “One thing that I noticed is that all the other guys on the field had been playing football for months, and then he had been coming off of a year or whatever of not playing football, and he really didn’t look in any sort of way out of place on the field which I thought was impressive.”

While expectations have taken a massive hit in New England since the departure of Tom Brady, a prove-it year of sorts has evolved for the Patriots’ bench boss to showcase he can succeed without the presence of his long-standing quarterback in the second year of Mac Jones’ tenure. While a playoff berth last year initially silenced doubters, a 47-17 wild-card round drubbing by the Buffalo Bills rapidly ushered New England back to reality and further placed the onus on youth-infused talents like McGrone to immediately step up under live fire in an ultra-competitive division.

Although the annual draft hasn’t worked to Belichick’s favor over the last few years, the health of McGrone could see him quickly progress into a future mainstay within the New England defense. A talent that checks off many boxes as a B-level defender, a heavy snap count backed by elite instinctive awareness should allow Cameron McGrone to fly around without limitation this fall.

Written By

Ryan Fowler