2010 Starters Projection: Pre-Training Camp

We’ve already given you our first prediction for the final 53-man roster, but by reader request we’re going to get a bit more specific and take a crack at projecting the starting offense and defense.

QB – Tom Brady
RB – Laurence Maroney
TE – Rob Gronkowski
WR – Randy Moss, Torry Holt
SWR- Julian Edelman
OL – Matt Light, Nick Kaczur, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Sebastian Vollmer

Notes: We eventually see Wes Welker taking his slot position back once he is healthy, and Taylor Price snatching the #2 WR spot from Torry Holt after the bye-week. If Logan Mankins is still around, that could shake up our offensive-line makeup. We see all three TE’s and four/five RB’s getting playing time, depending on the gameplan and situation, so who is “starting” will obviously change from week to week.

DL – Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Gerard Warren
OLB – Tully Banta-Cain, Derrick Burgess
ILB – Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo
CB – Leigh Bodden, Devin McCourty
S – Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung

Notes: In today’s NFL, your slot CB is basically a starter, so Darius Butler should probably be on this list. We see him as a better slot CB than McCourty. I fully expect Jermaine Cunningham to challenge Burgess for playing time early and often, with Gary Guyton splitting time with Brandon Spikes inside. Ron Brace will hopefully see some time when the Patriots are in four-man fronts, but may get a chance to play the 5-technique. It’s time for Chung to step up, which it sounds like he is prepared to do this season.

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20 Responses to “2010 Starters Projection: Pre-Training Camp”

  1. Ryan Buske says:

    Interesting post that somewhat pertains to what is being talked about with the TE scenario.
    Compliments of ESPN.
    1. Cardinals — 54 trips/38 touchdowns — 70.4 percent
    2. Colts — 53 trips/35 touchdowns — 66 percent
    3. Vikings — 69 trips/43 touchdowns — 62.3 percent
    4. Dolphins — 54 trips/33 touchdowns — 61.1 percent
    5. 49ers — 39 trips/23 touchdowns — 59 percent
    6. Saints — 71 trips/41 touchdowns — 57.7 percent
    7. Redskins — 46 trips/26 touchdowns — 56.5 percent
    8. Titans — 39 trips/22 touchdowns — 56.4 percent
    9. Packers — 62 trips/34 touchdowns — 54.8 percent
    10. Chargers — 63 trips/34 touchdowns — 54 percent
    11. Ravens — 57 trips/30 touchdowns — 52.6 percent
    12. Texans — 63 trips/33 touchdowns — 52.4 percent
    13. Patriots — 65 trips/34 touchdowns — 52.3 percent

    If you notice the Patriots got to the redzone with the third most attempts. However, the conversion ratio was awful. I would attribute that to two things:
    1. Ben Watson being anything but consistent.
    2. No Power RB

    Both Problems I think can be solved this season with the Three Tight Ends we have on the roster, coupled with the return of Fred Taylor. I realize many of you do not put stock in him, but I think he has got some miles left and I think he is perfect for Goal-Line Activities.

    • NEPD says:

      A healthy Sammy Morris and a sure-handed Maroney can also be very good at the goal line.

      I’m very confident going forward with our 3 TE’s this year.

  2. Brent says:

    I think you are a bit optimistic with McCourty and Chung. Butler has been make great progress during OTA’s and McCourty still has too much to learn. He should start in Nickle packages over Wheatley/Wilhite.

    With Chung, Sanders should start and Chung should beat out McGowan for third spot. Chung should be starting by ebnd of year, but not pre-season/opening day.

    Now from DB’s to ILB. The spot is for Guyton to lose. he has the most reps and experience in that role, if anyone replaces him it could be McKenzie as he has better knowledge of the system than Spikes. More will be known for these guys once the pads come on, but so far Spikes has been the 3rd/4th team guy in OTA’s.

    I think McKenzie or Spikes will be starting over Guyton after the break. But not pre-season/opening day.

    • NEPD says:

      So you agree on players, just not on timing – I can see that.

      McKenzie is a big unknown. ILB will be a position battle for sure during training camp.

  3. Jared says:

    Jarvis Green had a bad year last year. But he still leaves a void as a 3rd down rusher. Mike Wright should be first on the list, then Pryor. Although ive heard Brace improved his footwork, I saw too much of him at BC to think hes going to make a serious impact, if he does-i dont think it will be in pass-rushing situations. I could be wrong, but i hated the pick when they took him last year, and I think in a couple years-we’ll look back and Brace will be the only blemish in one of BB’s best drafts ever.
    In a 3-4 lineup-I think the 7 are pretty set in stone, (besides maybe Guyton/Spikes starting, I say Spikes). But if they go 4-3, they could have a number of different looks. On 3rd down, I think it will look something like Wright & Lewis in the middle-with Cunningham and Burgess/Banta-Cain on the outside. Too much talent at MLB now,( I know,crazy to say that)- but there IS too much- to have them sitting on 3rd down, I think we could see Spikes or Guyton ( Ninkovich too) play some OLB in the 4-3.


  4. Ryan says:

    My thoughts are this:
    ILB – Guyton starts the season, Spikes takes over.
    OLB – Cain/Burgess – Cunningham/Nink play sparingly no considerable amount of time. Position is to tough to learn in a year. I think Burgess will look ALOT better this year. Just my opinion. Might be good enough to stay a couple years.
    Safety – Sanders starts – Chung takes over
    DB – Butler/Bodden – but McCourty takes away a couple starts
    DL – Pry Warren-Warren-Wilfork (who knows, Ron Brace has made strides on footwork. Pryor in there. Deadrick some say he has the size to play.)

    QB – Duh Hoyer of course haha JK
    WR – Moss-Edelman-Holt – Price and Tate will play and most likely make Holt a back seat driver by the end of the season
    RB – I hope we get a new one, in a trade for Mankins. Taylor Maroney all day. But still behind Faulk
    OL – Mankins can disappear. Everyone who wants to play will play, including Ted Larsen
    TE – All three will play, they all three have different things to offer. I see Gronk getting the shaft maybe due to the fact Crumpler as SOME similar traits.

    • NEPD says:

      Pryor really flashed in 2009, but I like him more if the Patriots go with a 4-man front. More of a penetrating d-lineman than a space eater to me. Warren, Deaderick and Brace have a better chance of starting at the 5-tech to me.

      • Ryan says:

        I agree, but on Second year player I love to “believe” they will or could make a jump. More or less I was just not trying to forget about possible sleepers.

      • NEPD says:

        I’m hoping that Pryor can make a living on 3rd down. Much better rusher than Brace and probably both Warrens.

  5. Jared says:

    Agreed, Butlers freak athleticism fits better as a nickel. I just don’t remember a rookie DB ever starting here right away.

    • NEPD says:

      You raise a good point and Butler might be the guy. As long as Wilhite (who is a marginally decent slot CB) and Wheatley (ugh) aren’t trotted out there, I’ll be fine

  6. Jared says:

    NEPD….meant to ask you. Why McCourty over Butler?? First year corners usually struggle in Bill’s system, but more-so- because from what ive heard…nobody on either side of the ball has flashed more than Butler thus far in camp.

    • NEPD says:

      I think Butler is going to be GREAT and would be a starter if we had a better option at slot/nickel CB — I feel that McCourty outside and Butler inside is better than vice versa.

      That said, Butler may start outside and move in when the Patriots go nickel.

  7. Jared says:

    PS- wrote all three TE’s would play. Sounds like Hernandez has made a better splash in camp-(with no pads)- than Gronkowski. Right now, I would say Crumpler starts on a running play-3 wr set, Hernandez in a lot of shotgun-passing sets.Gronkowski hopefully takes over the main TE duty during the season.

    • NEPD says:

      I imagine that Gronkowski is still a bit rusty from a year off, while Hernandez is still locked in from a great Florida season.

      All three of them have such a unique skill-set – they will all see plenty of playing time.

      Crumpler – 3rd OT
      Gronk – Versatile
      Hernandez – H-Back, Receiver

  8. Jared says:

    Sulmaan…where are you and your other Crable groupies hangin out these days man?? The Crable stuff is rediculous, people around here will keep thinking hes going to start until the day he gets cut. I just dont understand it, are you people Michigan fans?- I dont watch a lot of Wolverine games, but I feel like im missing something…someone is. Maybe hes just another 3rd round pick who isnt going to make it, or maybe he’ll get another injury this year…and you guys will get to say how great hes going to be in 2011.

    As far as the lineups…
    Brady – Maroney
    Moss – Holt – Edelman
    Light – Kazcur – Koppen – Neal – Vollmer…in that order.
    TE’s-I think Crumpler,Gronkowski,& Hernandez will all see the field right away.
    And I think Brandon Tate and Taylor Price will be fighting Holt for that 3rd reciever spot all year.
    If everyone stays healthy, offensive skill positions should be a revolving door this season-besides Moss , and Edelman until Welker comes back.
    5 positions will be filled by a mixed variety of 12 players(not including 5th running back- BJGE). Pick your combination…Besides Brady and Moss, how many different personnel sets could they have with those 12??? I wish i could do the math, but I bet its a pretty big number-and thats a definately a good thing.
    Still had to go with the old-no TE-single back-shotgun Pats look to start…

    G.Warren – Wilfork – T.Warren
    Burgess – Mayo – Spikes – Banta-Cain
    Butler – Meriweather – Sanders – Bodden

    Toughest position to pick was strong safety, my heart says Chung. Becausei I hope hes made the improvements to be a starter, beeing almost a first rounder a year ago. But my gut says Bill will go with consistency to start, I think Sanders is the first of the three to see time opposite Meriweather.
    McCourty should be the 3rd DB, and the first man in on a nickel package.
    With the addition to the front seven (Cunningham, Spikes, G.Warren, Lewis), Pats clearly have more depth in both areas.
    Guyton should see a lot of time, especially on 3rd down. And hopefully Cunningham will make an impact on defense, in some capacity.
    Lewis & Wright add depth to the D-line along with a cast of young guys from the last two drafts.


  9. Sulmaan R. says:

    They is probably just wishful thinking, but I see Crable starting in front of Burgess. I also love the depth in the secondary. Butler is the most athletic player on defense, Chung seems to be making strides, & Sanders is against the run.

    • NEPD says:

      You are right, Butler is a stud and the depth in the secondary should finally be an asset after drafting so many.

      Crable is getting a lot of love here for some reason… I just don’t see it – I think he may get cut.

    • AP says:

      Chung making strides? Geez, I hope so. He was horrible last year… he has a long way to go to start IMO.

      • NEPD says:

        If the game slows down for him, he brings a physicality to the position that the Patriots desperately need.

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