Patriots CB Jalen Mills Excited to Sharpen Iron with Iron

New England Patriots

Getty Images Patriots CB Jalen Mills excited for the 2022 season.

The New England Patriots DB room prior to the 2022 NFL Draft was a concern for many. As of now, the DBs have gotten much younger and the Patriots have added more depth. This offseason has been disappointing to many Patriot fans, however, they filled the holes that needed to be filled. While the talent the Patriots filled it with maybe lackluster in most eyes, Patriots HC Bill Belichick has proven more than once to develop players into legends. 

“Starting Patriots CB Jalen Mills said he connected with Malcolm Butler when Butler was taking his physical to join the team and has always had respect for him,” ESPN’s Mike Reiss tweeted a recap of Patriots CB Jalen Mills’ statements regarding Super Bowl XLIX hero and veteran CB Malcolm Butler. “Now we’re in the room, competing against each other, and making each other better.”

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Jalen Mills Expectations Going into 2022

While Mills primarily played safety in Philadelphia during the 2020 season, he was asked to play outside cornerback mostly last season with the Patriots. The heartbreaking departure this offseason had to be the young star, CB J.C. Jackson. However, this may not have been the biggest loss of all. In 2021, the Patriots traded away former DPOY Stephon Gilmore to the Panthers for a 2023 sixth-round pick, reported Jeff Howe for The Athletic. This offseason, they have inquiring veteran CB Butler to play alongside CB Mills.

While Mills is the prohibited favorite to win the position, Butler lets it be known that the competition will be fierce. It seems there’s mutual respect for one another, however, they both know they will be competing at high levels to help one another get better for the upcoming season.

“Competition brings the best out of everybody,” Mills told reporters via video conference on May 12. “Bill [Belichick] is going to demand that the competition level be high. I think that’s just gonna make everybody better in that room.”

Again, Mills is expected to be among one of the main factors in this Patriots’ defense for this upcoming season. However, last season he solely played the role of the second cornerback. This season, he has an opportunity to lead the CB room. One of the advantages he has is simply his versatility. Mills has played free and strong safety while also playing slot and outside cornerback. He’s proven to be a “jack of all trades” throughout his career.

Belichick’s Thoughts on Mills

In 2021, Mills amassed 47 tackles (35 solo tackles), and seven pass deflections, according to ESPN. He played in 913 defensive snaps finishing third on the team behind Patriots star safety Devin McCourty and CB Jackson. While Mills is still becoming acclimated in New England, he understands he’s a veteran and has tried to build relationships with some of the younger DBs on the roster. He’s indicated that he plans to help their development and growth throughout the league as much as possible. Belichick speaks extremely highly of Mills and is excited about what he can bring to the defensive side of the ball.

“… Jalen’s been a really solid addition for us,” Belichick said in a postgame press conference on November 28th, 2021. “I’m glad we have him, and I love his versatility and his overall play style.”

“… High energy, always ready to go, very durable, tough, out there all the time,” Belichick continues. “Has a good, physical style of play. Generally tackles well in the run game, jams receivers, and has good instincts. He’s around the ball. He’s done a nice job for us. It’s a different system than what he played in Philadelphia, but I think he’s adapted to it well and is a good all-around football player.”

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