NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
On Saturday and Sunday I was among the 14,000 attendees at Patriots training camp carefully watching all 89 players on the current Patriots roster.
After watching each drill and trying to gauge all of the new talent on the Patriots roster, I thought it was time for my first roster prediction of the 2012 preseason.
If you wanted to look over all of my thoughts this past weekend, feel free to go through my twitter timeline.
Here’s how I think the Patriots roster will shake out for week 1:
QB: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett
No surprises here. Hoyer still appears to have a strong grasp on the backup job in Foxboro. All three players looked impressive this weekend. New England is in good shape at QB with a hall of famer, a dependable backup and a third stringer with high upside. That’s the perfect way to build your quarterback position.
Sidebar: I overheard someone on Sunday see a Drew Bledsoe jersey and say, “Now that was a real quarterback. Before dip**** took over. ”
Now, first, I thought he was just an angry Washington State Cougars fan that didn’t fully appreciate the Ryan Leaf era. But then I heard:
“I love the Patriots, but I hate our quarterback.”
WOW. Imagine hating Tom Brady. How exactly does one love the Patriots, but hate the best player the team will ever see? I guess some people just prefer their quarterbacks stage diving to cliff diving.
RB: Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden
I was among those that were impressed with Bolden this weekend. He showed surprising speed and quickness and looked comfortable in an NFL camp. The Patriots have had success with undrafted Ole Miss RBs in the past, so why not another one?
Ridley looks to be sitting pretty at the top of the Patriots depth chart at RB and as long as he keeps his fumbling at bay this season, he could have a big season. Woodhead and Vereen looked impressive in blitz pickup drills, but Vereen will have to showcase his skill in training camp to avoid becoming Taylor Price 2.0.
FB: Spencer Larsen
Spencer looked a little better in Foxboro, and with Fiametta’s injury concerns, he’s also the safer bet. Spencer adds an extra element of versatility as well with his past special teams and defensive contributions.
WR: Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater
Maybe excluding Deion Branch is just wishful thinking, but here’s my reasoning: he clearly lost a step last season and all of the above players are either better, younger or more versatile than Brady’s old dependable.
Edelman looked especially impressive at camp with assertive route running and a strong burst off the line. Gaffney made a couple nice grabs and seems to be getting better as he gets older.
Aaron Hernandez also players a role in this decision because of his ability to play multiple positions. He’s essentially a wide receiver in a tight end’s body and his skills should allow the Patriots to carry another player at a position other than WR.
It’s not unheard of for the Patriots to only carry five wide receivers, they went into the Super Bowl last year with just five.
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Daniel Fells
Fells may be getting off to a slow start due to injury, but there’s a million and a half reasons (dollars) to include him here over Visanthe Shiancoe. Fells has a three year contract with $2 million guaranteed while Shiancoe has a one year deal with just $400,000 guaranteed.
All of the Patriots tight ends looked good this weekend including Tyler Urban and converted DE Alex Silvestro.
OL: Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Brian Waters, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Dan Connolly, Robert Gallery, Ryan Wendell
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see 3/5ths of my projected starting offensive line this weekend, but how impressive does that above list look?
Koppen was playing with the first team at center in training camp with Cannon playing RT. On Saturday Gallery was at LG with the first team with Connolly at RT, while on Sunday it was switched up with Connolly at LG and Wendell at RG. Any way you shake up that offensive line it looks like the Patriots will be strong in protecting Brady and getting a push for the Pats young RB stable.
Since Cannon, Gallery, Connolly and Wendell can all play multiple positions the depth is strong here.
ROSTER PREDICITION CONTINUES ON PAGE 2 WITH DEFENSE.