New England Patriots 53-man Roster Projection
by Brian Umbaugh, @NFLRosters
In the NFL, the rookies are getting their first taste of life in the NFL and the players who will eventually be on the roster bubble try to make the grade. It’s about time to set the stage for a plethora of camp battles and try to determine which of the 90 or so rostered players might be playing on Sundays this fall. Here’s an early look at how I think the 53 will shake out.
Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett (R)
As a 3rd round pick, Brissett will likely be on the 53-man roster. The Patriots seem content with the prospect of Garoppolo starting in case of an upheld Brady suspension, but it is possible that a veteran QB is signed to back him up. Otherwise, the first four games of the year might require Patriots fans to hold their breath, praying nothing happens to Jimmy.
Running Backs (5)
LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, Donald Brown, D.J. Foster (R), James Develin (FB)
Outside Looking In: James White, Brandon Bolden, Tyler Gaffney, Joey Iosefa (FB)
Blount and Lewis are fairly set, as is Develin. It stands to reason that the Pats would need a backup two down guy and a backup pass catcher. Brown has a $300K guarantee and has experience in that spot over someone like Bolden. White would be challenged by Foster for the pass catching spot, and Foster has looked smooth in camp. Due to their complicated and secret playing time distributions, each of these 9 players (except perhaps Gaffney) have been able to show what they can do and allow proper evaluation. It should be a good battle.
Tight Ends (3)
Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Clay Harbor
Outside Looking In: Steven Scheu (R), A.J. Derby, Bryce Williams (R)
Behind the two main guys, the battle for the #3 TE will be between experience and potential. Scheu has greater upside, but might get put on the practice squad due to the Patriots’ love of experience.
Wide Receivers (6)
Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Nate Washington, Malcolm Mitchell (R), Matthew Slater
Outside Looking In: Aaron Dobson, Devin Lucien (R), Keshawn Martin, Chris Harper, DeAndre Carter
As the Patriots love their TE combo and RB pass catchers, the wideouts for New England are certainly less prioritized. Production will be everything to making this team, so Dobson is probably out. Lucien will probably hit the practice squad while waiting for an injury. Slater makes it over Martin due to his special teams prowess.
Offensive Line (9)
Nate Solder, LT; Shaq Mason, LG; Bryan Stork, C; Josh Kline, RG; Sebastian Vollmer, RT
Marcus Cannon, Joe Thuney (R), Jonathan Cooper, Tre’ Jackson
Outside Looking In: LaAdrian Waddle, David Andrews, Cameron Fleming, Ted Karras (R), Keavon Milton, Chris Barker
New England’s offensive line last year was a sorry lot, with only the centers Andrews and Stork and G Josh Kline grading anywhere near starter material, according to Pro Football Focus. Thuney and Karras were added in the offseason, along with the draft trade for Cooper. Thuney will probably be coached as a backup center, which may mean the loser of the battle for starting center may not have a roster spot. Cooper’s option for 2017 was declined, but the Pats will want to see what he has to offer and isn’t likely to eat his prorated cap charge. Cannon did poorly last year when pressed into action, but so did Waddle. It’s a tough call on which of these guys will make the team, so it will be a good camp battle.
Defensive Line (9)
Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine (R), Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom
Outside Looking In: Markus Kuhn, Joe Vellano, Frank Kearse, Woodrow Hamilton (R), Anthony Johnson
I’m fairly confident that if the Pats kept nine, they would keep this bunch. However, if they only keep eight, either Flowers or Grissom might have trouble holding a spot.
Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Jonathan Freeny, Shea McClellin, Kamu Grugier-Hill (R)
Outside Looking In: Elandon Roberts (R), Rufus Johnson, C.J. Johnson (R), Kevin Snyder, Ramon Humber
Mayo was shown the door and subsequently retired, but the LB corps isn’t bad. McClellin was brought in to help rush the passer, and Ninkovich has been taking some snaps at LB. Roberts might make the practice squad.
Defensive Backs (10)
Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones (R), Justin Coleman, E.J. Biggers, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Brandon King
Outside Looking In: Cre’von Leblanc (R), V’Angelo Bentley (R), Jonathan Jones (R), Darryl Roberts, Brock Vereen
Stephen Gostkowski, K; Ryan Allen, P; Christian Yount, LS
Outside Looking In: Joe Cardona, LS (Navy commitment, should be reserved)
The Patriots have a long-standing history of establishing depth with a decent mix of veterans and rookies. This year’s crop will have some trouble making the 53, but some of them might latch on to the practice squad, waiting for their opportunity. I like their roster even more than usual, although they could use a WR upgrade.
Have an opinion? Send me a tweet at @NFLRosters! Thanks for reading!