New England Patriots linebacker Josh Uche had a productive rookie season in 2020, and there are reasons to be optimistic about an even better sophomore campaign.
Pro Football Focus actually graded Uche as the second-best rookie edge rusher in the NFL last season, just below Washington Football Team star and No. 2 overall draft pick Chase Young.
Uche played in only nine games and was on the field for much fewer snaps than Young, but the progress the Alabama product showed was impressive nonetheless.
The Patriots were aggressive in the offseason bolstering their defense with veteran talent in free agency. They signed players such as defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Matthew Judon, as well as defensive back Jalen Mills, among others.
Developing recent draft picks should be a priority for the Patriots, too, especially with players like Uche. Most of the Patriots' best defensive players are older veterans in their prime or outside of it. They need younger players to eventually step into that group and be leaders on that side of the ball. Uche has the potential to be that kind of player, and it's one of the reasons why Year 2 is so important for him.