NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The Patriots pre-season roster is deep – really deep. Just how deep are they? Well, I decided to take an in depth look at the current roster and rank the players from top to bottom based on a combination of talent and the likelihood they will make the team.
It really paints a picture of how deep the roster is and how many tough decisions the coaching staff will be faced with as training camp moves forward.
Before, I delve into the rankings let me explain exactly what I am ranking. As of right now the Patriots roster stands at 89 with Visanthe Shiancoe just signing on, with one player on injured reserve. The roster limit for anytime during the off-season is 90, so a player could be added to the roster by the time training camp starts on Thursday. (UPDATE: The Patriots have signed DT Tim Bulman who last played for the Houston Texans and played his college ball at Boston College)
The way I did the rankings, I didn’t simply list the players who I thought were most likely to make the team, although I did take that into account. I also took into account how talented the player was. For example, Danny Aiken is ranked #67, but he will be on the final roster since he is the lone long snapper on the team. But, in my opinion there are 66 players on the current roster who are better football players than Aiken. I didn’t pay any attention to position. This isn’t a roster projection. I am simply ranking the Patriots players based on who I believe are the most talented players and their chances to make the final roster. As it turns out it reveals just how deep and talented across the board the roster is.
2012 New England Patriots Pre-Training Camp Roster Ranking:
#90) Chris Koepplin, K – It’s not easy to make the team as a back-up kicker, especially since most NFL teams don’t carry two kickers.
#89) Tyler Urban, TE – UDFA out of West Virginia, not overly talented and little shot of making the roster.
#88) Kyle Hix, OT – Spent all of last season on IR instead of being cut. Low level UDFA out of Texas, struggled throughout college career and unlikely to stick unless injuries really crop up.
#87) Eric Kettani, FB - Two fullbacks ahead of him on the depth chart, hard working Navy grad, but little shot of making it.
#86) Malcolm Williams, DB – Spent time playing Special teams on active roster last year, offers nothing else, better options on roster.
#85) Jesse Holley, WR – Signed late in the off-season, #5 WR and special teams guy at best, hard working kid who has overcome a lot, but no chance making this team.
#84) Jeremiah Warren, OG – Rookie UDFA from USF, failed entry physical and faces up hill climb. Possible Practice squad player.
#83) Aaron Lavarias, OLB – Limited physically and athletically, seemed to be passed by Silvestro late last season and that was before the Patriots used two high draft picks on defensive ends.
#82) Jamey Richard, OG – Has played both OG and OC, will have to beat out long time Patriots Koppen, Connolly and Wendell to make the roster and that’s not likely. Can play in the NFL, but it won’t be with the Patriots.
#81) Britt Davis, WR – The biggest WR on the Patriots roster. Definitely has potential to play in the league, but with so much talent at the position ahead of him it will likely be practice squad or elsewhere.
#80) Marcus Forston, DT – Once was a highly touted NFL prospect, but went undrafted due to injuries and two lack luster seasons at Miami. Still has talent and upside to play in the league. If he doesn’t make the roster, he’s a likely practice squad candidate.
#79) Mike Rivera, LB – NFL build, but has spent the last three seasons on various practice squads. Limited ceiling and injuries will have to occur for him to make the 53 man roster.
#78) Sergio Brown, S – I’m going to be quite blunt, Sergio Brown was awful last year. His late game pass interference calls cost the Patriots 2 games. Struggled so much so, that Devin McCourty had to move to safety late in the year. He won’t be around this year.
#77) Donald Thomas, OG – Spent time on the active roster last season and played in 10 games, starting one. Won’t make the team, but he is a capable injury replacement, if needed.
#76) Ross Ventrone, S – We all know Ventrone’s, but in reality he is an undersized and isn’t gifted athletically. Ventrone doesn’t offer anything besides a special teams player and that hampers his chances. Last year the Patriots were forced to keep players like Ventrone around due to injuries and lack of depth, but that shouldn’t be the case this year.
#75) Marcus Zusevics, OT – Zusevics would have been a mid round draft pick if not for pectoral injury. Typical Iowa OT, there’s a chance he could make the roster if Vollmer is out and there is also a chance he could be placed on IR if he’s not healthy.
#74) Alex Silvestro, DE – Silvestro worked his way onto the roster late last season, but he will never be an impact player. Silvestro was being used at TE in mini-camp due to injuries, he is likely headed to the practice squad.
#73) Marcus Harrison, DT – Had his best year as a rookie in 2008, but has done little since then. Signed and immediately released last season, although he could beat out Brace and Pryor to make the roster.
#72) Tim Bulman, DT – Hard-working, blue collar guy. A rotational defensive tackle, who may just be a camp body. Has played for the Texans the last five seasons. Had carved out a nice career for himself after going undrafted out of Boston College. A Mass. native.
#71) Justin Francis, DE – Could be much higher if I re-do the list at the end of training camp. Word was he was a stand out in mini-camp. Is a pretty good pass rusher and has the size the Patriots require from an edge player. Much more upside than Silverstro.
#70) Brandon Bolden, RB – With the RB mix so wide open, Bolden has a chance to grab a roster spot. Talented and inconsistent in college, he will really have to shine if he is going to beat out the one of the top four RBs on the roster.
#69) Nick McDonald, OG/OC – Started two games last season and played in four. The Patriots are good at developing linemen off the practice squad and McDonald is on that track.
#68) Matt Kopa, OT – Despite not seeing any game action last year, Kopa was consistently voted as one of the top “practice players of the week”. Word has it the team is high on the former Stanford and Miami Dolphins OT. Kopa has a chance to make the final roster as a reserve offensive tackle.
#67) Danny Aiken, LS – Aiken is virtually guaranteed a roster spot since he is the only LS on the team. He played really well last year after being cut by Buffalo. Aiken was barely seen or heard from throughout the season and that’s a great thing if you a long snapper.
#66) Niko Koutivides, LB – Actually started the Super Bowl at LB, which shouldn’t happen on a team with this much talent. Koutivides is a solid special teams player, but there are some younger options that could push him off the roster.
#65) Tony Fiammeta, FB – Emerged as one of the best blocking fullbacks in the NFL last season. Dallas’ rushing attack wasn’t the same when he went down. The team will probably only keep one FB and Larsen might offer more versatility.
#64) Nate Ebner, S – Ebner is another “special teams” only player who was a late round draft pick. Ebner is more physically and athletically gifted than Ross Ventrone. Ebner could take his spot on the practice squad to 53 man roster taxi.
#63) Jeff Tarpinian, LB – Made the team out of camp last year as a special teams linebacker. His big moment came when he started on Monday Night Football against the Jets, but immediately got hurt. The practice squad is more likely this year.
#62) Myron Pryor, DT – Oft-injured defensive tackle, has played well when he has been on the field. Was just placed on Active/PUP meaning he’s not going to be ready to go at the start of training camp. It’s make or break time for Pryor as his time is running out.
#61) Ron Brace, DT – It’s no coincidence he is ranked right next to Pryor. Brace has been a huge disappointment since being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft. Has battled injuries and hasn’t shown much when he has played. This is likely his last shot.
#60) Jeremy Ebert, WR – A 7th round pick out of Northwestern, Ebert has the potential to make the team as the back up at slot WR. Not highly rated or flashy, Ebert is a smart and effective player who could sneak on the roster. If not he’s headed to the practice squad.
#59) Josh Barrett, S – Started the first four games in 2011 and his play was average at best. Coach Belichick seems to like Barrett a lot, but he’s going to have to beat out some players to make the team in my opinion. Injuries are also a concern when it comes to Barrett.
#58) Marquice Cole, CB – Slot CB and special teamer who was signed from the Jets in the off-season. Will be given a shot in camp to emerge as the #5 CB. I have a feeling that the team is high on him. He has a legit chance at making the 53.
#57) Jake Ballard, TE – Athletically limited TE, did nothing but produce last season. He would be higher on the list if it wasn’t a foregone conclusion he is headed to IR with a knee injury. Stashing him for 2013 is a shrewd move by the Patriots front office.
#56) Donte’ Stallworth, WR – Back for his second tour with the Patriots. Has struggled to regain form since his suspension. Has good chemistry with Tom Brady and will likely be battling Deion Branch for one roster spot.
#55) Tracy White, LB – One of the top special teams players on the team the past two seasons. The team is deeper than they have been at linebacker and White can’t really be relied on to play on defense. White will be one of the tougher decisions when it comes down to cutting the roster down to 53.
#54) Bobby Carpenter, LB – Looked like he was finished a few years ago, but revived his career playing on passing downs in Detroit. Belichick has long been a fan and got plenty of reps during mini-camp. Will get a chance to play on passing downs, an area where Patriot linebackers were brutal last year.