2012 Patriots Roster Prediction: Doug Kyed 3.0

Patriots Saints

Could Alex Silvestro make the Patriots roster with his versatility? (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed

Since my last roster projection, the Patriots have played their first preseason game, lost a linebacker for the season and I attended another week of training camp.

So what does that mean? A lot of changes are in order. Once again, I’ve completely blown up my prediction and started all over again.

My roster projection and Sunday training camp notes after the jump.


QB: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett

Mallett has looked shaky thus far in the preseason. He struggled against the Saints behind a depleted and young offensive line, and has been sailing passes all month at practice. It’s good to have Brian Hoyer around as a rock behind Tom Brady. He hasn’t flashed this preseason, but he’ll still be #2 on the depth chart.

RB: Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead, Brandon Bolden, Shane Vereen

We got a bit of a surprise on Thursday night when Bolden showed up against the Saints before Vereen. While Vereen did look quite a bit better, Bolden was still taking second team snaps above Vereen at practice, so it was no fluke.

Vereen will need to continue to impress if he hopes to pass Bolden. At this point, it would be fair to say he’s on the roster bubble. He made a nice leaping catch for a touchdown over Marquice Cole’s head Sunday at practice.

WR: Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Donte Stallworth, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater

It looks like Donte Stallworth is here to work, he was in for extra reps after practice, and he also appears to be getting a lot of time both at practice and in game. I think it would be smart to carry just five WRs since Hernandez can play the position, but I have a feeling the Pats will carry six.

TE: Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Alex Silvestro

In this scenario, I have neither Fells or Shiancoe getting healthy before the season starts. We don’t have any idea how serious either player’s injuries are, so I’ll play it safe and have neither make the team. Silvestro has looked surprisingly effective as a converted tight end, he can contribute on special teams and he has the added layer of versatility as a former defensive end.

Gronkowski was a surprise absentee from practice today. He was on the sidelines in street clothes.

OT: Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Nick McDonald

McDonald has been getting plenty of reps at tackle since Robert Gallery retired, and he was getting first team snaps Sunday at guard in a rotation with Dan Connolly and Donald Thomas in place of Brian Waters. With this scenario, I have Vollmer starting the season on PUP and they’ll need the extra tackle behind Solder and Cannon.

OG: Logan Mankins, Brian Waters, Donald Thomas, Jeremiah Warren

It was great to see Mankins back at practice Sunday, even though he only participated early in practice. I doubt we’ll see him in full contact practices soon, but his quick return is still amazing. Thinking that Vollmer starts the season on the PUP, the Pats will need to carry a 9th offensive lineman and Warren gets the nod. He seems to be getting more reps than the other young linemen, he’s healthy, and I know the Patriots liked him leading up to the draft.

Check out my piece on Mankins’ return at NESN.com.

OC: Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly

The biggest glaring omission here is longtime Patriot Dan Koppen. Koppen was replaced after struggling early against the Saints and was replaced by Wendell, who immediately made the line look better. On Sunday, Wendell got all the first team snaps at center with Koppen playing with the young second team.

With Wendell, Connolly, McDonald and Warren all capable of playing center, it’s time for the least versatile interior lineman to go.

DT: Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, Brandon Deaderick, Jonathan Fanene

The Patriots are going smaller along the defensive line this year with more traditional 7-techs playing the elephant position on both sides of the line. That means less defensive tackles on this team. Fanene is going to need to get back on the practice field to not get passed by Marcus Harrison and Marcus Forston. Both looked impressive on Thursday.

DE/OLB: Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Trevor Scott, Jermaine Cunningham, Jake Bequette, Justin Francis

I have the Patriots carrying six DEs, which may seem like a lot, but we could see guys like Jones, Bequette and Francis getting snaps inside. They all possess the strength and size necessary to play 3-tech in smaller defensive fronts.

Scott may be a player on the roster bubble, even though he looked impressive against the Saints. The fact that he was doing it against the Saints third stringers makes that feat slightly less impressive.

LB: Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Bobby Carpenter, Jeff Tarpinian, Tracy White

Dane Fletcher’s injury hurts, but he was likely going to be the team’s fifth linebacker anyway this season. That role gets filled by both Tarpinian and White, who can also contribute in place of Fletcher on special teams. Fletcher’s injury clearly weakens the linebacker depth, but that makes the Carpenter signing all the more necessary.

CB: Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling, Sterling Moore, Alfonzo Dennard

I wrote a piece on who I think the Patriots fifth cornerback will be on NESN. Below is an excerpt.

The Patriots played nine cornerbacks altogether last season, which is why that backup roster spot is so important. The obvious choice would be 2012 seventh-round pick Alfonzo Dennard, but he still hasn’t returned to action since injuring his hamstring in practice July 27. When Dennard does return, he’ll be behind the curve, having to catch up both in coverage and special teams. If he struggles, Will Allen, Marquice Cole, Ross Ventrone, Malcolm Williams and Derrick Martin will battle for the fifth spot behind Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling and Sterling Moore.

Check out the whole article on NESN.com.

S: Patrick Chung, Steve Gregory, Tavon Wilson, James Ihedigbo

It was a tough decision for me between Ihedigbo and Will Allen. Ihedigbo not only has experience in the Patriots defense, but he’s also running with the first team special teams. Allen would have provided better coverage ability and versatility.

ST: Stephen Gostkowski, Zoltan Mesko, Danny Aiken

These guys aren’t going anywhere.

Sidenote: Mesko was lined up with the kickoff team on Sunday, not kicking, in coverage and Chandler Jones was laughing at him on the sideline. Mesko pointed at him and made the “throat slice” motion and Jones started cracking up.

Last three cuts: Dan Koppen, Gerard Warren, Deion Branch

Warren and Branch may not sign on with other teams at this point, and could be asked to come back to the Patriots if they were needed later in the season after injuries.

PUP List: Sebastian Vollmer, Daniel Fells, Myron Pryor, Jake Ballard, Markus Zusevics

We may not see this many guys on the PUP list, but I’m sure we’ll see at least a few of them. The PUP list immediately makes the Patriots depth better midway through the season.

Injured Reserve: Brad Herman, Jamey Richard

Practice Squad: Eric Kettani, Jeremy Ebert, Tyler Urban, Matt Kopa, Derek Dennis, Marcus Forston, Nate Ebner, Ross Ventrone

23 Responses to “2012 Patriots Roster Prediction: Doug Kyed 3.0”

  1. MaineMan says:

    Seems to me that Cunningham did pretty well setting the edge and in run-D generally as a stand-up ROLB in 3-4 sets his rookie season (2010). His coverage wasn’t great and he struggled to get home with his rush (though he did get some pressures), but he seemed to be developing well and had probably the most important part of 3-4 LB (run fits) very well in hand.

    Last season, he was hampered by the lockout, injuries (hammy, IIRC) and scheme change (at 6033/266, I might not have played him much in the predominant 4-3 sets, either). But the most critical thing is that he apparently didn’t handle all the adversity very well and maybe lost some commitment. Still doesn’t alter the fact that he does have solid experience playing standup OLB.

    The point being that, if he can continue to improve his rush from a 3-point DE position AND resume his run-D development from both a 2-pt and 3-pt stance, in a defense that projects to be doing a lot of morphing between 4-3 and 3-4 on the fly, cumulatively that provides significant value that a basic rush-end rookie like Francis may not.

  2. MaineMan says:

    RB: Vereen isn’t even close to being on the bubble.

    WR: Stallworth was unimpressive vs the Saints and Branch hasn’t really practiced yet, so that’s still wide open, IMO.

    TE: Silvestro hasn’t really shown enough overall value to make the cut over an extra OL or other positional reserve/special-teamer, even if Fells and Shiancoe aren’t ready for Week-1.

    OL: The 10 total OL is probably the correct count, but I think Waters is done (he doesn’t really fit a renewed emphasis on the ground game, anyway) and I’d guess that Warren would go to the PS, replaced by a veteran OT. Koppen, I think, was re-signed for his run-blocking, but even that seems to be in decline, so it wouldn’t be a surprising cut to me (also likely replaced by an OT-type). McDonald seems to be the new Russ Hochstein, so I’m guessing that he’ll be around awhile.

    DT: I doubt that Fanene is in much danger unless his injury is long-term, but I’d guess that one of Harrison/Forston would be ADDED to the unit to bring the total to five.

    DE: The fifth DT would replace one of Cunningham, Scott, Francis. Francis’ practice performances may have been overhyped based on his showing vs the Saints. Scott and Cunningham both have experience standing up at OLB. Scott, though, seems to have only shown up really well in 1-1s in practice and freelancing against Saints scrubs in a scheme-free defensive game, but he may be having trouble with scheme assignments, so I’m not entirely sure about him yet.

    LB: White is an “LB-in-name-only” in the same way that Slater is a “WR” and I’m not sure that White makes it over a 10th DB/special-teamer. OTOH, maybe he (or Koutouvides) sticks for his ST leadership.

    CB: Moore has been kinda sucking so far and Dennard’s injury could make him redshirt-IR material, leaving the door open for Allen and possibly Cole or Malcolm Williams.

    Agree with the PS candidates, though I doubt Ebert makes it through waivers and I suspect Rexy will snag Ebner out of sheer spite.

  3. Mickaline says:

    Patriots need to give Nate Ebner a deeper look! This kid is tough and has better speed, vision and durability than Ihedigbo (respectfully), as well as a few others you’ve chosen for the roster. Sure he’s a bit of a project, but his tough raw talent is what the Patriots need.

    • qwerty says:

      I think he is raw enough to make practice squad

    • Doug Kyed says:

      Ugh, Pats fans seriously need to chill on the Ebner love. How has he shown better vision than Ihedigbo? And durability? Based on what, his rugby career?

      • td says:

        Doug, I think people are dillusional after watching some of his rugby tapes. It would be like putting Chris Johnson in at RB at a JUCO game. Funny how there are no tapes like that of Ebner during a football game.

  4. Aaron says:

    Do you really think Vereen is on the bubble?

    • qwerty says:

      i think he meant that if the patriots were to carry only 3 RBs and carry a FB instead. I don’t see that happening.

    • Dan says:

      Yes, he said that, and it’s the stupidest comment yet on this site in several years.

      • Doug Kyed says:

        Currently fourth on the depth chart at RB, and if the Pats carry a FB, its not a guarantee that they carry four RBs. Getting passed by a rookie UDFA in the matter of a couple weeks of practice is a really BAD sign for Vereen. He’s also a very similar player to Woodhead and its not unheard of for Belichick to cut a highly drafted second year player than can’t get on the same page with the offense (hi Taylor Price!).

        Did I say Vereen is gonna get cut? No. Did I say there’s a chance he does? Sure. I’ll just say that it wouldn’t be a giant surprise. I’m a huge fan of Vereen, so I’m hoping he doesn’t. I think he’s the most explosive of the Pats RBs, he’s solid catching the ball out of the backfield and he’s decent in blitz pickup. Obviously there’s something there that Belichick doesn’t like though, he’s fourth on the depth chart. And if you’re placing all of the RBs on one level, Kettani is getting a lot more snaps than Vereen in practice as well.

        I’m not wearing my analyst hat here, merely my reporting hat and I’m saying what I’ve seen at practice and in the Pats lone preseason game. Vereen looked great against the Saints, but it was against their third string defense. Let’s hope he moves up the depth chart, but for now, he could be on the roster bubble since he’s slid so far down the depth chart.

        • td says:

          Sometimes BB will give lessor players more snaps as he knows what the other guy(s) already can do. I would say he wants to see more of what Bolden can do, regulating a previously injured players snaps and if Ridley is done leaving the ball on the ground.

        • Doug Kyed says:

          That’s the thing though, Belichick doesn’t know what Vereen can do. Bolden’s been playing in front of him at practice as well. Vereen is fourth on the depth chart, I know it sucks, but right now its true.

  5. Tim says:

    I just dont see The Patriots going into the season with three tackles and Vollmer on the PUP. Especially since one is Nick McDonald. I’d think having Chad Clifton, who apparently is taking a physical with the team, holding down one of the tackle positions while Vollmer heals is probably a solid idea.

  6. td says:

    What gives, I haven’t seen any calls from fans to trade Hoyer for a 1st/2nd rounder yet. If Mallett starts playing well, they will start.

    I’m getting excited to see 2 things:
    1) what the offense does with Lloyd in there,
    2) how the defense does with all the new additions.

    I would add a 3rd in the form of better kickoff returns, but Woodhead, Edelman, Stallworth; come on man!

    • qwerty says:

      There are no trade partners for Hoyer. He’d be gone if someone wanted to give up second rounder. So it is moot at this point toi talk about it. After this year, patriots can’t get anything for him.

      Brady talked about it in the past saying that the first quarter or half of a game allows him to get the rhythm in his arm. Hoyer has said that he needs time to get his arm in rhythm also. Probably Mallet does also. The OL is usually at it’s worst in the preseason so that works against him.

      What is difficult to assess in Hoyer and Mallet is their mental toughness in a game. That’s only something we will find out when they start enough games.

      Mallet’s got three more years to work on things. That’s a big luxury for the Patriots.

  7. Nik says:

    Good effort on early look 53, love the site.

    Darrion Weems has looked good, much better than Jeremiah Warren to this point. Weems also offers more flexibilty as well. Alex Silvestro has struggled as a blocker, way too many stuffed runs both in practices and game. Have to think that either Visanthe Shiancoe or Daniel Fells will get healthy and claim 3rd TE spot or they will go with 2 till that point. If you’re going to project Brian Waters coming back might as well project on one of those two getting healthy. From this point of view it looks like Pats not expecting him back since Connolly has had RG spot locked down and he’s one of the team’s best 5 OL. I also think a Spencer Larsen will find his way on to this roster as well as Marquice Cole, no other CB other than Arrington can play the slot. If Dennard not IR’d think they go with 10 DB’s total. Think they’ll go light at pure LB because Ninkovich, Cunningham and Ihedigbo (sub-looks) can play there in emergency. Also think that either Derrick Martin or Will Allen will find their way on the team as well. Martin can play CB or S and is a very solid ST player, he was GB’s special teams captain in their SB season. Pats left themselves too skinny last year in the defensive backfield, I don’t think they will do that again this yr.

    • Doug Kyed says:

      Arrington, Dennard, Moore, Gregory, Chung can all play the slot. That’s one area they’re very loaded at actually.

      I don’t get why people think Cunningham can play LB, if he could, he would have played there last year, and he barely saw the field at all last season, let alone at SLB.

      I could see Weems making it over Warren, I just know they were big fans going into the draft process of Warren.

      I could also see ten DBs and Cole or Martin would be fine options because of their special teams prowess. I just don’t think you want to see those guys playing defense.

      Allen was a tough cut, he’s very versatile on defense, but Belichick values special teams so much.

      • td says:

        I agree with an army of DB’s. There are going to be some faily high draft picks going bye bye if they continue to get injured or fail to perform: Cunningham, Brace, Pryor, Deadrick.

  8. Shane Vereen says:

    Roster bubble??? Are you serious Clark?? Put me down for 1000+ total yds and 40+ catches.

  9. Mike Farrell says:

    I would think that Allen’s versatility would outweigh Ihedigbo’s experience. Also I have to think twice whenever I see Ihedigbo’s name
    to remember which syllable to accent.

    • Doug Kyed says:

      haha, yeah it’s a tough name. I’m going mostly off how many snaps each are receiving in practice. Ihedigbo was out yesterday, but he’s been getting major special teams snaps and snaps at safety.






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