SAFETIES: Who will line up with McCourty?

SAFETIES: Who will line up with McCourty?
July 11, 2013, 12:00 pm
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Each day until the start of training camp Mary Paoletti will preview a position on the Patriots. Yesterday, she previewed corners. Today it's safeties. Check back in tomorrow for her look at Patriots centers.
 
Returning: 
Devin McCourty - 4th season
Tavon Wilson - 2nd season
Steve Gregory - 8th season
Nate Ebner - 2nd season
 
Incoming:
Adrian Wilson - 13th season
Duron Harmon - Rookie
Kanorris Davis - Rookie
 
News of note: There should be no questions this year as to what position Devin McCourty will play for the Patriots. Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus has noted that, during 2012's regular season, quarterbacks had a 78.2 passer rating when throwing to McCourty at cornerback; the average rating when throwing to McCourty at free safety was 10.1. 
 
That settled, New England has to figure out who will start in tandem with him. 
 
It's tough to make a case for Steve Gregory, considering the subpar tackling he showed in his last campaign. But he was never meant to be the savior of the secondary. He can remain a contributor in sub-packages and on special teams. 
 
It makes more sense for Tavon Wilson or Adrian Wilson to get the nod. Same last name, vastly different experience. The former is just 23 years old but got plenty of snaps last year as a rookie and proved to be a playmaker, finishing tied for 11th in picks and 15th in fumble recoveries. 
 
Adrian Wilson, 33, was New England's big free agency boon. He gives the team some much needed size (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) and experience. Whether he goes into Week 1 as a starter or strictly in sub-packages, he will be a leader in the locker room. The veteran might even regain some old punch to show Arizona that sloughing him off after 12 seasons was unwise.  
 
Duron Harmon is the unknown quantity. The Patriots spent their 91st overall pick on the 6-foot, 196-pound Rutgers safety in the 2013 draft. He started 13 games as a senior and had one interception, seven pass break-ups, and 50 tackles. That was good enough for Harmon's second straight first-team All-Big East honor, sure. Will it translate to the NFL? It will be fun to find out.