New England Patriots: 2012 Roster Reset

LINEBACKER (9) Bobby Carpenter, Dane Fletcher, Dont’a Hightower, Niko Koutouvides, Jerod Mayo, Mike Rivera, Brandon Spikes, Jeff Tarpinian, Tracy White

The inclusion of Hightower immediately improves this unit, which had some of the weaker depth last season leading to players like Koutouvides and White playing valuable snaps during real, live games. Parcells-favorite Carpenter was an interesting FA pickup, and will certainly add some competition in camp.

Mayo is the best of the bunch, Hightower should be a quality starter, Spikes is a great two down player, Fletcher adds versatile depth, White is a great special teamer, and well, Koutouvides is friends with Gronk.

The Patriots carried six linebackers in the Super Bowl.

Overall grade: B

Roster prediction: Fletcher, Hightower, Mayo, Spikes, Tarpinian, White

DEFENSIVE END/OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (8) Jake Bequette, Markell Carter, Jermaine Cunningham, Chandler Jones, Trevor Scott, Alex Silvestro, Aaron Lavarias, Rob Ninkovich

With Mark Anderson gone and Andre Carter still recovering from injury/unsigned, this position needed serious depth in the draft. Fortunately, that was provided in Jones and Bequette. Suddenly, a previous weak position now turns into a major battle in training camp.

Cunningham may find himself on the outside unless he seriously impresses. The 2010 2nd round pick showed promise his rookie season, then pretty much disappeared last season. Cunningham played just nine games last season and piled up a single tackle all year.

Trevor Scott could be this year’s Mark Anderson. He was another player that showed promise early in his career before having a couple down seasons playing out of position.

The Patriots carried just four “pass rushers” last season, and that includes the pass rushing deficient Shaun Ellis. The addition of Hightower as a situational pass rusher probably limits the number the Patriots carry here.

Overall grade: C+

Roster prediction: Bequette, Jones, Scott, Ninkovich

DEFENSIVE TACKLE/DEFENSIVE END (9) Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick, Jonathan Fanene, Marcus Forston, Marcus Harrison, Kyle Love, Myron Pryor, Gerard Warren, Vince Wilfork

I was really hoping the Patriots might improve this position in the draft. I view Deaderick and Love both as “replaceable starters” and there’s not a lot of upside at this position either.

I really liked the UDFA pickup in Marcus Forston. I thought it was a poor decision on his part to leave for the draft early, since he missed most of the season with a knee injury. He could be a Myron Pryor-type interior pass rush threat though. FA pickup Fanene can provide similar ability inside, especially when he’s playing the 3-tech.

Brace is a serious roster cut casualty. He made it through last season as a PUP-list guy who could bring depth after injuries hurt the Patriots DL. I’ve never seen a major spark out of Brace worthy of a roster spot.

The Patriots carried five interior defensive linemen last season.

Overall grade: B-

Roster prediction: Deaderick, Fanene, Love, Pryor, Wilfork

CORNERBACK (6) Will Allen, Kyle Arrington, Marquice Cole, Alfonzo Dennard, Ras-I Dowling, Sterling Moore

You may notice a notable name missing here in Devin McCourty, and that’s because Boston Globe beat writer Greg Bedard said he was told by a league source that McCourty was playing safety this upcoming season. You may choose to believe that report or not, and given the Patriots FA signings and drafting, it could go either way. Until further notice though, I trust the respected Bedard.

I don’t think this is the deepest group of players, but they do have a great deal of upside. Dowling looked like a potential shut down corner last year to start the season, Dennard is a perfect fit for the slot, Moore showed quality and clutch play down the stretch, and Arrington looked very good last season before he got injured. If McCourty does indeed slide back to safety, or more predictably, he plays both, it will be pretty easy to guess who will be on the roster after training camp.

The Patriots carried five cornerbacks in the Super Bowl.

Overall grade: B-

Roster prediction: Allen, Arrington, Dennard, Dowling, Moore

SAFETY (9) Josh Barrett, Sergio Brown, Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner, Steve Gregory, Devin McCourty, Ross Ventrone, Malcolm Williams, Tavon Wilson

This is the position that needed the most work after last season, and Belichick and Caserio have gone to town on it. McCourty is, for now, switching over to FS to help out deep, Gregory was brought in as FS depth and Tavon Wilson was drafted in the second round to provide further depth/become a future starter. If Wilson or Gregory can flash starter-quality skills in training camp, I wouldn’t be surprised to see McCourty playing corner again.

I didn’t love taking Ebner in round six, and I can’t see him making the final roster, but I do think he’ll be able to slip through to the practice squad. Markell Carter and Malcolm Williams slipped through last year, I won’t be surprised if Ebert and Ebner do this year.

The Patriots carried four players in last year’s Super Bowl.

Overall grade: B

Roster prediction: Chung, Gregory, McCourty, Wilson

SPECIAL TEAMS (4) Danny Aiken, Stephen Gostkowski, Chris Koepplin, Zoltan Mesko

Overall grade: B+

Not much time needed to be spent here. It’s obvious as the roster currently stands that Aiken, Gostkowski and Mesko will be making the final roster.

Currently, the Patriots have 86 players on their roster. I expect them to pick up at least one running back in free agency, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them sign a linebacker or defensive back as well.

Tarpinian and Gonzalez were my “last players” to make the roster and the fullback position is a bit of a crapshoot. I could see that going to Larsen, Fiammetta or both.

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. 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