Jermaine Cunningham suddenly looking like a great pick

When Jermaine Cunningham was drafted in the second round by the Patriots back in 2010, it didn't generate a whole lot of excitement for Patriots fans. Especially not with bigger names like Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Spikes also being selected in that round.

The former Gator's contributions in that year were pretty minimal, but he did play in 15 games and register a sack. The next year was a huge disappointment as Cunningham barely saw the field. Heading into this season, he was seen as on the roster bubble just two years into his career. Another wasted defensive pick by the Patriots in the vein of Darius Butler and so many other recent examples.

However, Cunningham bulked up (currently listed at 255 lbs) and he was quickly being noticed by reporters during training camp. That production has translated in the preseason games.

"Overall he’s been at a higher level," said Bill Belichick today. "He came to camp in great condition, worked hard offseason ... he came to training camp and that work, those improvements showed up. They showed up in practice, from early in camp to all four preseason games. It wasn't just one thing ... He has more position flexibility than in the past."

In the three preseason games that Cunningham played, he had five tackles, two sacks and six hits on the quarterback. Last night was was easily his most impressive game as he racked up those two sacks, one reminiscent of a Chandler Jones sack in the Tampa Bay game in which he was held by an offensive linemen but still managed to sack the quarterback. (Watch that here) Cunningham was also the one to knock Michael Vick out of the game against the Eagles.

Heading into last night, many viewed undrafted rookie Justin Francis and Cunningham to be battling for a spot on the roster. Both played very well but Cunningham made an obvious case for a spot. If Francis is cut he has a possibility of landing on the team's practice squad.

Depth at that defensive end spot will be invaluable, so Cunningham's improvement is going to be an asset for this team. We saw last year that when Andre Carter went down, Mark Anderson was able to step in and fill that void. It's good to know the team will have a a talented player like Cunningham behind Rob Ninkovich and Jones on the depth chart.

Things look to finally have turned around for him, and while nothing is certain, he's likely earned himself a roster spot.