New England Patriots: 2012 Roster Reset

Dont'a Hightower Patriots NFL Draft

Where will this versatile rookie fit into the Patriots hybrid defense?

NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed

With the 2012 NFL Draft over, it’s time to focus on where the Patriots stand with all their new parts.

New England is nearing their 90 player limit with 86 players and only a few more needs to fill. It’s safe to say that the offense has only improved over the offseason and the defense is certainly getting there as well.

Some added youth from the draft, young players progressing and key free agent acquisitions will only help this Super Bowl losing team regain their 2011 form.

QUARTERBACK (4) Tom Brady, Mike Hartline, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett

It would be hard to find a single criticism to make about the Patriots quarterback depth. So I won’t. They have an elite starter, a dependable backup, and one of the most promising young QBs in the league wearing sweats and cheering on his team from the sidelines.

Wait, I think it’s actually discrediting Brady to merely call him elite. Correction: one of the best QBs ever starting. That’s better.

The Patriots also have two WRs on their roster that played QB in college in Julian Edelman and Matt Roark. It’s nice to be six deep on the roster.

Last we saw the Patriots in the Super Bowl, the Patriots had three QBs on their roster.

Overall grade: A+

Roster prediction: Brady, Hoyer, Mallett

RUNNING BACK (3) Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead

The Pats aren’t quite as deep at the RB position. Ridley looked great in preseason, showed promise during the season and then showed some fumbling issues down the stretch. An injury during training camp essentially gave Vereen a glorified redshirt freshman season only seeing extensive action in two games. Woodhead is a great third down back, and plays in New England more than he would in other offenses due to his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and split out wide.

I’d like to see the Patriots add a veteran. There’s still some good players out there and they’ve shown interest in Joseph Addai, Tim Hightower and Ryan Grant. All three of those players would be classic Patriots RB pickups, Belichick loves his vet RBs.

The Patriots carried five running backs in the Super Bowl.

Overall grade: C-

Roster prediction: Ridley, Vereen, Woodhead, Vet RB TBA (prediction: Grant)

FULLBACK (3) Tony Fiammetta, Eric Kettani, Spencer Larsen

The Patriots are deep at fullback. Yeah, a little too deep (TMNT II reference).

Josh McDaniels loves his fullbacks, and even he might think this is a little absurd in today’s game. Fiammetta and Larsen are both quality player, and Kettani is nothing short of a terrific story. No matter how badly you want to pound the rock, it would be a little silly to carry three fullbacks during the regular season.

The Patriots carried one fullback in the Super Bowl.

Overall grade: B+

Roster prediction: Spencer Larsen

WIDE RECEIVER (12) Deion Branch, Britt Davis, Jeremy Ebert, Julian Edelman, Anthony Gonzalez, Brandon Lloyd, Chad Ochocinco, Matt Roark, Donte Stallworth, Matthew Slater, Tiquan Underwood, Wes Welker

The Patriots went a little crazy this offseason signing quality veteran wide receivers, but it was also much needed. The only two WRs Brady looked comfortable throwing to were Branch and Welker.

Adding Gonzalez, Lloyd and Stallworth will create great competition in training camp and should lead all twelve player to go into camp only wanting to show off their best skills. This will be one of the toughest positions to cut down, and it may lead the Patriots to carry a couple extra players, especially if they can provide versatility elsewhere.

The Patriots added some youth in the draft with Ebert, but I don’t expect him to make the final roster with so much depth. I think Ebert is a player the Pats should be able to slip through to the practice squad however.

The Patriots carried five wide receivers in the Super Bowl.

Overall grade: B+

Roster prediction: Branch, Edelman, Gonzalez, Lloyd, Slater, Welker

TIGHT END (4) Daniel Fells, Rob Gronkowski, Brad Herman, Aaron Hernandez

This is another area of strength for this Patriots team. Gronkowski and Hernandez are both elite tight ends. Gronkowski is the best combination of receiving and blocking in the league, while Hernandez has the best YAC moves I’ve ever seen from a tight end. Both add so much to this offense. Hernandez is also one of the most versatile players in the league, able to line up at TE, WR, FB and HB. He’s not the best blocking tight end by a long shot, but in a pinch he can do it.

Fells was an interesting signing to the Patriots, but if anything, it shows how much the Patriots value TEs who can catch. I expected another blocking TE to come into the offense, but to give Fells credit, he is a better blocker than Hernandez, especially in the passing game.

The Patriots carried just two tight ends in the Super Bowl.

Overall grade: A+

Roster prediction: Fells, Gronkowski, Hernandez

OFFENSIVE LINE (15) Marcus Cannon, Dan Connolly, Robert Gallery, Kyle Hix, Matt Kopa, Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins, Nick McDonald, Nate Solder, Donald Thomas, Sebastian Vollmer, Jeremiah Warren, Brian Waters, Ryan Wendell, Markus Zusevics

This is getting slightly redundant, but once again, offensive line certainly has some top talent. The problem with the offensive line is a point I’ve highlighted a couple times, there are question marks abound. Fortunately, the position is fairly deep and every player who was on the team last year proved they could play in the NFL.

The Pats added the versatile Gallery in free agency and Warren and Zusevics in UDFA to further beef up the position. If any coach can get the most out of these players, it’s Dante Scarnecchia, one of the best position coaches in the league.

The Patriots carried ten offensive linemen in the Super Bowl.

Overall grade: B+

Roster prediction: Cannon, Connolly, Gallery, Mankins, Solder, Thomas, Vollmer, Waters, Wendell

CLICK PAGE TWO FOR DEFENSE

Continue to Page: 1 2

Tags: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 NFL Season, Free Agency, Roster

38 Responses to “New England Patriots: 2012 Roster Reset”

  1. kdog says:

    Here’s my list, FWIW. Slash indicates comp for final spot. Parentheses indicates off-roster back-up (either practice squad or speed dial)

    Special Teams (4): Ghost, Mesko, Aiken, Slater
    QB (2): Brady, Hoyer/Mallet (loser to be traded)
    RB/FB: (5) Woodhead, Ridley, Vereen, Grant (to be signed), Fiammetta/Larsen (Faulk)
    TE (3): Gronk, Hernandez, Fells (Herman)
    WR (5): Welker, Lloyd, Gaffney, Edelman, Branch/Ocho (Ebert)
    OL (9): Solder, Vollmer, Cannon, Zusevics, Mankins, Waters, Connolly, Gallery, McDonald/Wendell (Koppen)

    DT (5): Wilfork, Love, Deaderick, Fanene, Pryor/Brace (Warren, Forston)
    DE (5): ACarter (must sign), Jones, Bequette, Ninkovich, Cunningham/Scott (MCarter)
    LB (6): Mayo, Hightower, Spikes, Fletcher, White, Tarpinian/Koutovides
    S (4): Chung, Wilson, Gregory, Barret/MWilliams (Ebner)
    CB (5); McCourty, Arrington, Dowling, Moore, Allen/Dennard (Cole)

  2. Tony D says:

    Spencer Larson is a lot more than just a fullback. He played linebacker all through college and has played a lot of special teams I the NFL. He spent time with Josh in Denver, he is a lock for the roster. No chance Don Thomas makes the roster. There is too much depth and he will lose his job to one of his competitors.

    • Tony D says:

      If Marquice Cole and Jeff Tarpinian make the roster over Bobby Carpenter and Nate Ebner I would shit on the floor.

  3. Smog says:

    But if healthy, Koppen is better than Mike Brewster, that’s why they signed him.

  4. Andrew says:

    I hope M. Carter or Cunningham (comeback year to prove himself) can beat out Ninko for that 4th rush linebacker spot. Ninko only showed flashes to me, and only looks like a 5 Mississippi kind of pass rusher to me. I really think that we can do a lot better than him, because he is far from being a Mike Vrabel type of guy that people said he was.

  5. Bruce says:

    I will use your scenario as a base. I believe they will sign Carter. I also see them keeping one more S especially if one of your safties is McCourty ho could move back to corner. Stallworth has more speed then Gonzalez so I think he sticks over Gonzalez. I think they keep McDonald over Thomas. Since Tarpinian is going to make it as a special teams player let’s drop him and keep Ebner as a special Teams player (just a hunch and that adds another safety). So who do you cut to keep Carter? I say Allen goes.

    • Dan says:

      I think Ebner is going to have to show something at safety, or somewhere to make the team. But, he’s the type of guy who BB will give the time…practice squad. We already are carrying Slater who can’t really play safety, adding another will make the depth dangerously thin. That’s if you want to call Slater a WR or safety…doesn’t really matter he is a specialist 99%.

  6. Dan says:

    Can’t argue with this at all…

    I still don’t think they’ll carry 3 QB’s though, but at this point you have to put them in there. That roster spot is just too valuable, and Mallet should be ready to back-up.

    We should have a nice practice squad…hope we don’t lose too many players this year.

    I think the biggest surprises could come at WR. I think Gonzalez is a long-shot.

    • MilitStrat54 says:

      I believe you are half right. Big surprises at wide receiver, yes, but if Welker doesn’t sign his tender, it will be Gonzales and company that will be getting the fame (sorry, no fortune with the Pats). Brady will make whoever catches his passes a household name and it won’t be Welker. Welker will become the next Randy Moss, outcastwise. Even if he does sign his tender, if he becomes difficult to deal with, and not understand its about the team, he will get a boatload of passes to show the league how great he is, only to be traded for max compensation, because the league may not be bright enough to figure out that any good receiver appears great when he’s catching a Brady ball. Consider Branch, a SB MVP with Brady, and an invisible act in Seattle. Like Indiana Jones in the Search for the Holy Grail…choose wisely Wes, choose wisely. Lastly, looking at the cap space available, if he plans to play this year, hint, hint, the teams with QBs that won’t make him look like a second stringer or get him hurt, all have less money available than the Pats are offering, and they still need to pay their draft picks. If he hooks up with someone who can pay him but won’t get value out of him, they will soon figure it out and kill the contract, either that or get him injured over the middle with a poorly thought out throw. Best move is to take the security afforded with a long term deal with guaranteed money, otherwise you risk your security with an injury as well as an end to what is becoming a potential HOF career with the Pats. Note…$8M a year for catching a football over the middle, although dangerous, is more than decent pay and the security of guaranteed money, and knowing Brady’s skills help keeping him safe, should be paramount with a new bride. to summarize…(1) financial security for wife and self with guaranteed money, (2) health security with Brady, (3) extended career due to previous reason, (4) which leads to chance at the HOF, SBs, and greater earnings due to longevity. If Wes needs more money, he could always keep the 10% his agent gets by negotiating his own contract. It shouldn’t be too tough to say, yeh, $8M a year for 3/4 years, with half of it guaranteed is acceptable? Like the tiger in the gum commercial, do I really need to …go on?

      • Liam says:

        That’s assuming the Pats are offering that…

        • MilitStat54 says:

          You are right, assuming the Pats are STILL offering that. Word was they were but may no longer be. What’s the phrase, you snooze, you lose. Wes may have waited too long. Current makeup of the team can move forward without him. What limited leverage he may have had has been slowly disintegrating with each new receiver they bring into camp. Wondering if a trade is imminent (for David, for Barron, for Amendola and a draft pick next year..who would you accept in trade?).

    • MilitStrat54 says:

      I believe you are half right. Big surprises at wide receiver, yes, but if Welker doesn’t sign his tender, it will be Gonzales and company that will be getting the fame (sorry, no fortune with the Pats). Brady will make whoever catches his passes a household name and it won’t be Welker. Welker will become the next Randy Moss, outcastwise. Even if he does sign his tender, if he becomes difficult to deal with, and not understand its about the team, he will get a boatload of passes to show the league how great he is, only to be traded for max compensation, because the league may not be bright enough to figure out that any good receiver appears great when he’s catching a Brady ball. Consider Branch, a SB MVP with Brady, and an invisible act in Seattle. Like Indiana Jones in the Search for the Holy Grail…choose wisely Wes, choose wisely. Lastly, looking at the cap space available, if he plans to play this year, hint, hint, the teams with QBs that won’t make him look like a second stringer or get him hurt, all have less money available than the Pats are offering, and they still need to pay their draft picks. If he hooks up with someone who can pay him but won’t get value out of him, they will soon figure it out and kill the contract, either that or get him injured over the middle with a poorly thought out throw. Best move is to take the security afforded with a long term deal with guaranteed money, otherwise you risk your security with an injury as well as an end to what is becoming a potential HOF career with the Pats. Note…$8M a year for catching a football over the middle, although dangerous, is more than decent pay and the security of guaranteed money, and knowing Brady’s skills help keeping him safe, should be paramount with a new bride. to summarize…(1) financial security for wife and self with guaranteed money, (2) health security with Brady, (3) extended career due to previous reason, (4) which leads to chance at the HOF, SBs, and greater earnings due to longevity. Like the tiger in the gum commercial, do I really need to …go on?

  7. McTash says:

    Very reasonable projection at this time of year. Competition in camp and injuries will play a huge roll in the final 53 which most certainly will differ from this nice projection.

  8. Jim R says:

    Nate better make the team!!!!!!!

  9. Prefectly Smart says:

    I can’t remember too many times last year when the comment was made that the Pats needed a better running game in order to be more consistent on offense. I think they go with the three running backs currently on the roster and both Larsen (due to his LB and special teams experience) and Fiammetta. They probably could pull a vet off the street, like Dallas did with Sammy Morris last year, or go with Hernandez out of the backfield in a pinch if injuries set in.

    • MilitStrat54 says:

      Only 53 roster spots. Has anybody ever carried 5 running backs? That is almost ten percent of the roster, and the Pats aren’t even a ground and pound team.

      • Liam says:

        We carried 5 into the super bowl. Other teams have gone with 6 or even 7 at times.

  10. Ryan says:

    This is a website I use quite often. But here is why I think we should keep Fiammetta:

    http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2012/03/28/fantasy-can-tony-fiammetta-spark-the-new-england-patriots-run-game/

    I think the OL will be shaken up: Thomas, Wendell wont make it, McDonald makes it over them while Markus Z. goes to practice squad or IR. We also aren’t sure if Waters retires.

    DE/OLB: Carter and Cunningham both make it.

    WR: LLoyd, Welker, Branch, Stallworth, Ocho, Edelman

    Also, what about Slater? Didn’t he just sign a 3 year deal?

    • MilitStrat54 says:

      Waters doesn’t retire with the prospect of another SB run. It’s what these guys live for. Only inability to perform will have him calling it quits/or family concerns. Waters is a quality individual, physically, mentally, emotionally, you name it.

  11. AM says:

    There is almost always one UDFA or other long-shot who makes the opening day roster, and my money is on Markus Zusevics to take the title this year. He has versatility at guard and tackle, which the team still needs with a large but aging group.

    • Doug Kyed says:

      Yeah, I like Zusevics as the 54th player. Someone always gets hurt in training camp or IR’d or PUP’d. I just didn’t want to predict injuries.

      • AM says:

        Fair enough. Even without the injuries, though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make it over one of the more established backups (Thomas, Wendell). And I’m not entirely sold on Gallery, I have to say–I know he’s a Belichick favorite, but I wonder if he has the chops to play in this system.

        • kdog says:

          I agree (generally) with your projections. . . but I would have liked to see an additional, “next man up” or “bubble” feature for each position as well. . . There does seem to be a lot of quality depth on the team.

  12. Mike Farrell says:

    How does your projected roster look in respect to The Cap?

  13. Vick says:

    Ironically, I was breaking down the roster last night and after a fair amount of debate, came up with the exact line-up. Also, thought Grant would slide in as the final RB. Lots of special teams coverage skill as well. Thoughtful analysis

  14. T.S. says:

    Until further notice though, I trust the respected Bedard.
    >>>
    Not me, Mike Reiss all day, baby!

  15. TD says:

    I think it’s time to say goodbye to: Koppen, Brace & Cunningham.

    I also think Ebner will be given a big shot at kick/punt returner. There is a youtube video going around showing his ability on the rugby field, although I doubt Ohio St rugby strikes fear into the rugby arena. We need to get better starting field position/returns out of our special teams than last year.

    I’m excited to see what BB can dial up on Def. this year with all the additions.

  16. Noah says:

    I think Warren makes the team for sure as well as Koppen.

    I could also see Carpenter slipping on over Tarp

  17. James says:

    No Koppen!?! and I really believe Markell Carter will make the team too. They payed him so much for a practice player last season to not pick him

  18. Eric says:

    You don’t think Koppen will make the roster, or was that an accident?

    • Doug Kyed says:

      It was no accident. There was a reason he was brought in so late in the FA process. I think there’s a distinct chance he doesn’t make the team.

      • Lundahl says:

        Then why sign him back on the team ?

        • Doug Kyed says:

          Why have 90 roster spots in training camp when only 53 are going to make the team? Roster competition.

          Koppen didn’t have any other offers, he had visited with other teams.

        • TD says:

          Very low cost/risk to see if he has anything left in the tank. Hard to see him sticking with all the youth on that OLine.

        • Lundahl says:

          But they could of drafted a rookie instead of signing him back, that’s my point. I think Mike Brewster is an UFA right.

        • Doug Kyed says:

          The Pats did sign an UDFA center, Jeremiah Warren.






  • Categories

  • Search NEPD Archives

  • Archives