Update: With two changes to our prediction three days ago, we’re making this our final roster prediction.
Our fifth roster prediction wasn’t nearly as grueling as the first four, but the last few spots are still certainly up for grabs.
Let us know how you would change things if you were GM.
Changes from the last prediction appear in Italics.
Quarterbacks - Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett (3)
Running Backs - Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, (4)
Wide Receivers - Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Taylor Price, Matthew Slater(6)
Tight Ends - Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Will Yeatman (3)
Offensive Line - Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Matt Light, Nate Solder, Steve Maneri, Ryan Wendell(8)
Defensive Line - Albert Haynesworth, Vince Wilfork, Shaun Ellis, Kyle Love, Myron Pryor, Mike Wright (6)
Defensive Line / Linebackers - Jermaine Cunningham, Eric Moore, Andre Carter, Rob Ninkovich, Mark Anderson (5)
Linebackers - Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher, Gary Guyton, Tracy White (5)
Cornerbacks - Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler (4)
Cornerback / Safety - Ras-I Dowling (1)
Safeties - Pat Chung, Brandon Meriweather, Sergio Brown, James Ihedigbo, Josh Barrett (5)
Specialists - Stephen Gostkowski, Zoltan Mesko, James Dearth (3)
PUP/NFI: Kevin Faulk, Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick, Marcus Cannon
Practice Squad Possibilities: Jeff Tarpinian, Lee Smith, Malcolm Williams, Markell Carter, Buddy Farnham, Kade Weston, Jeremy Ross, Ross Ventrone
IR Possibilities: Jeff Tarpinian, Lee Smith
Last five in: Matthew Slater, Tracy White, Will Yeatman, James Ihedigbo, Josh Barrett
Last five out: Brandon Tate, Jeff Tarpinian, Lee Smith, Gerard Warren, Rich Ohrnberger
With Brandon Tate looking like he has made little to no progression since last year, keeping special teams standout was much easier this time than last. That said, it still is hard to cut ties with Tate’s potential.
Another difficult decision came when looking at the tight end position. Smith was drafted in the 5th round while Yeatman was an undrafted free agent, but the way they have looked on the field that could easily be reversed.
Smith would be an ideal guy to stash on the practice squad – perhaps even bulking up to play offensive line like Steve Maneri.
The right guard position is easily the weak spot on offense. Rich Ohrnberger has been up and down, Ryan Wendell has a low ceiling and injury problems, and Marcus Cannon is still recovering. Matt Light and Nate Solder might start getting some reps here.
On the defensive side of the ball, safety is the wildcard position. With the release of James Sanders and $12.5m in the bank, the Patriots might be trying to upgrade the slot we have saved for James Ihedigbo.
We’d much rather see Ihedigbo used as a safety in blitz situations and on special teams than seeing him covering half of the field. Same with Barrett.
If/when Darren Sharper is healthy, he certainly would be a good addition to the team.
Injuries and performance have really dictated what the front seven will look like. The battle between Tracy White and Jeff Tarpinian fizzled due to the rookie’s injuries, while Mike Wright just hasn’t been able to find the field.
Mark Anderson and Myron Pryor have stated their case pretty convincingly in the pre-season, making it easier to cut or trade guys like Landon Cohen and Darryl Richard.
The decision to keep Wright over Warren is a tough one – hopefully Wright can stay healthy.
Matt Katula being cut was a bit surprising considering his solid play in 2010, but James Dearth-or some other free agent-will do a fine job.