Although the New England Patriots didn't advance in this year's playoffs, they are still considered a viable contender heading into next season. With that said, there's some work to do to improve the roster.

Regardless of whether Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady returns for his 21st season in New England or decides to go elsewhere, the defense will also be an area of concern. Head coach Bill Belichick knows how to build a championship-level unit. The Patriots' safety position is one that could see some change over the next few months.

Patrick Chung is a mainstay in the secondary, but his recent legal troubles bring his reliability into question. Devin McCourty's impending free agency could lead to an out-of-house replacement. Could that change come in the form of a safety-by-committee? If so, Clemson's Tanner Muse is an intriguing option to chip in.

Serving as a safety in Brent Venables' defensive scheme, Muse is a big-bodied player for his position. Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 230 pounds, he likely won't be able to keep up with NFL wideouts and running backs. Tight ends could be the best option for him to cover, as his physicality and understanding of route concepts will translate well.

Muse's lack of elite speed and athleticism, combined with his “tweener” size between a safety and a linebacker, both serve as serious question marks. He will likely be stuck playing as either a box safety or a linebacker when it comes to nickel packages. Other than that, he's likely a mismatch in favor of the offense.

If there's any team (and system) that can maximize Muse's strengths and mask his weaknesses the best, it's New England. Belichick and his staff are geniuses — there's a reason the franchise has won six Super Bowls over the past two decades. Additionally, Belichick and Co. would ease Muse into the scheme and not throw him into the fire as some other NFL teams may.

The need is there. The fit is there. In an ideal world, Muse would start as a special teams player and gradually progress over time. Once he's settled in, he can become a more important part of the game plan. A first-team All-ACC selection and a third-team AP All-American, Muse was a great college player. He's a jack-of-all-trades, hard-nosed safety. He fits right into what the New England Patriots' culture is.

Tanner Muse should still be available in the last couple of rounds of the NFL Draft. His athletic shortcomings alone could ensure it. If he is available late, the Patriots organization would be wise to take a flyer on him.