Ja'Whaun Bentley
Jerod Mayo believes Ja’Whaun Bentley is ready to lead the Patriots defense. Can Bentley fill the hole that Dont’a Hightower left behind? (Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The New England Patriots suffered more significant opt outs this year than any other team. The biggest being Dont’a Hightower who is the biggest piece in the middle of this defense. Not to mention that Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts left via free agency. Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo believes that Ja’Whaun Bentley is ready to lead the Patriots defense.

“You lose guys like Hightower and Kyle … Elandon … now Bentley is really the guy as far as mentoring the younger players,” Mayo said, via Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. “I think he’s done a great job up until this point as far as his leadership ability, taking control of the huddle and all those things. I look forward to continue seeing that growth going forward. Obviously, we don’t have on pads right now. It’s not 100 degrees out there on a summer day, you’re out there tired and all that stuff. But I look forward to seeing that development continue under strenuous situations. But just his role as far as the communicator at the second level and also just his mentorship role with the younger guys (is important).”

“Physically, he’s bigger than some of those guys last year,” Mayo said. “He’s faster than some of those guys last year. It’s more now (about) making the game slow down for him, getting more reps in practice. That’s why this time right now is so important. But physically, this guy is gifted. He’s a big, fast, strong linebacker, and he’s a smart guy as well. I’m excited. I’m excited to give him an opportunity to be out there for a while.”

Bentley checks in at 6-foot-2, 255-pound. He has a similar frame and skill set to Hightower. He’s just not nearly as proven or talented. Bentley has one glaring issue. He’s SLOW. Bentley ran a 4.75 at the combine coming into the draft. In fairness, he fits in well because as the Patriots proved last year. Their entire defense is SLOW.

As of right now, we honestly don’t know who’s going to start at linebacker for this team. Ja’Whaun Bentley is the only name set in stone. De’Jon Harris and Terez hall are options for the other inside linebacker spot. Exactly… WHO? This Patriots team isn’t very talented.