Post-Draft 53-Man Roster Projection (Matthew Jones)

Duron Harmon will be one of New England’s final 53 this fall. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones

Here’s a early look at how New England’s roster may present itself at the end of preseason.


QB: Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett

RB: Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, Leon Washington, LeGarrette Blount

WR: Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, Donald Jones, Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater

TE: Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui

OT: Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon

OG: Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Markus Zusevics

OC: Ryan Wendell, Matt Stankiewitch


DT: Tommy Kelly, Armond Armstead

NT: Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love

DE: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jake Bequette, Michael Buchanan

OB: Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins

IB: Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher, Steve Beauharnais

CB: Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Ras-I Dowling, Marquice Cole

FS: Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon

SS: Adrian Wilson, Nate Ebner


K: Stephen Gostkowski

P: Zoltan Mesko

LS: Danny Aiken

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62 Responses to “Post-Draft 53-Man Roster Projection (Matthew Jones)”

  1. ghenghis says:

    Hoomanawanui gets bumped by UDFA Bartholomew. He runs a 4.68, did 30 reps, is a punishing blocker, and played TE/FB/H-Back in Tennessee’s complex pro set. Nobody is going to outwork this guy, the Pats will figure out a way to keep him around.

  2. J H TARBORO says:

    Kenbrell Thompkins and TJ Moe (WR) are going shake up the receiver position.

  3. George says:

    (2) QB – Brady, Mallett
    (4) RB – Ridley, Vereen, Washington, Bolden/Blount
    (5) WR – Amendola, Jones, Dobson, Edelman, Boyce
    (4) TE – Gronkowski, Hernandez, Hoomanawanui, Ballard
    (4) OG – Mankins, Connolly, Cannon, McDonald
    (4) OT – Solder, Vollmer, Zusevics, Svitek
    (1) C – Wendell

    Offense – 24 Players

    (5) DE – Jones, Ninkovich, Francis, Cunningham, Bequette
    (5) DT – Wilfork, Kelly, Armstead, Love, Deadrick
    (3) OLB – Mayo, Hightower, Collins
    (2) ILB – Spikes, Rivera
    (5) CB – Talib, Dennard, Arrington, Ryan, Dowling
    (2) FS – McCourty, Gregory
    (3) SS – A. Wilson, T. Wilson, Harmon

    Defense – 25 players

    (4) Special Teams: Gostkowski, Mesko, Aiken, Slater

    I have Cole, Fletcher, Beauharnais, Buchanan, and either Blount or Bolden not making the final 53 and I have Cunningham, Rivera, Deadrick, Zusevics, and Bequette making the final 53. Of those that you list not making the final 53 but making the practice squad are Beauharnais and Buchanan.

    I really don’t think that Cunningham and Bequette are going to be cut for a number of reasons unless they show up and didn’t do their off-season work. I can see your point about Deadrick not making it. Mount Zus is going to make it and I predict that he is the teams’ 3rd OT ahead of Zvitek. In my view Zvitek could be a casualty of training camp if he doesn’t perform because of the investment that the Pats have made in Zusevics.

    With that said – it is going to be tough to BB to cut Cole but that is all reliant on Dowling and his health. If Dowling is not healthy, then Cole will likely make the team.

    Beauharnais and Buchanan could easily push out a number of guys on the defensive side of the ball, particularly Fletcher and any of the marginal linebackers that the Pats have. Additionally, the versatility of Ninkovich to play OLB and DE opens up a wide array of possibilities for the Pats to lose “all of the dead weight” that BB was referring to during the draft.

    Finally – TJ Moe, along with Ebner, are wildcards and will be around until the final cut. There is going to be some very stiff competition in camp this year and whomever is not ready to compete for a job will be behind camp competition because of it thus putting them at risk of not making this squad.

  4. patsfan says:

    I am hoping that Bequette makes a second year jump. He was a double digit sack guy in the SEC so he has some skills. I also dont think there is anyway Ebner gets cut or is put on the practice squad. He was a ST stud last year and will take more time to develop. There is a pretty big learning curve and speed change from college to the nfl. It is unrealistic to think that every draft pick can come in on day 1 and be a rock star.

  5. JT Strife says:

    I just want to list how I feel strictly about some random positions projections:


    TE: Gronkowski; Hernandez; Ballard; (Hommawanui/Rookie UDFA)*

    RB: Ridley; Vereen (3rd Down); Bolden; Washington; {Blount}

    WR: Dobson; Amendola; Boyce; Jones; Edelman; (Moe); Slater


    CB: Talib; Dennard; Arrington; Ryan; Dowling; (Cole?)

    S: Mccourty (FS); Adrian Wilson (SS); Tavon Wilson; Duron Harmon

    Basically I think Adrian is still great in coverage. Especially with a change of scenery and to a winning organization from pitiful Arizona, he is a special athlete and a passionate player. I think he could play 3 downs, and mark my words I predict he will be a stud this season.

    But Tavon will probably come in on 3rd down passing situations at SS/other cover safety whatever. I can see Duron being a back up to SS and a sub-hybrid coverage LB type player like David L mentioned above.

  6. JP87 says:

    T.J. Moe & Justin Francis will make it.. Marquice Cole, Dane Fletcher, and Jake Bequette will battle for final roster spot.

    • JP87 says:

      Also, Blount or one of the TE’s could lose a spot to Svitek.

      • Trevor M. says:

        It is really hard to imagine Blount making the team.

        • munchkin says:

          I would agree with that. Barring injury I don’t see him on the roster. I like the idea of Cunningham off the roster. He hasn’t shown much. His time has come and gone.
          I don’t know that Ebner stays on the roster over Gregory. As disappointing as Gregory was Ebner would have to come a long way on defense to see the field. Gregory could be too much of a cap hit also.
          Ras-I-Dowling, man I want that guy to step it up this year. Stay healthy; a lot of potential coming out of college.

  7. Phil says:

    I want TJ Moe on that roster. Rather have him than Legarette Blount.

  8. Rich says:

    Doesnt matter who they draft at corner, as long as Josh Boyer is coaching there will be issues

  9. MaineMan says:

    Aside from Amendola, I don’t see anybody being a “lock” or “out”. The WRs are wide open (and, I hope, not for the last time in 2013).

    Anyway, Slater is NOT a WR. He’s listed as one only because he has to be listed as *something* and “ST Captain” is not an official NFL positional designation. IOW, the could end up with as many as seven WRs, including Slater.

    Similarly, Washington is unlikely to be a real part of the RB corps, except in “name only.” His total rushing/receiving stats for the past three season are roughly equivalent to ONE year of Danny Woodhead. Washington is nearly a pure KR and is going to need to be outstanding at that just to make the squad over one of the faster “new” WRs (who may be able to return kicks well enough).

    The only RBs I’d project at this point are Ridley and Vereen. Bolden, Blount and maybe Hines are likely competing for two spots. Blount may also be competing for a FB-type role with Hoomanwanui, Develin and Bartholomew. Whichever one of those shows the best versatility and ST chops is likely the one who sticks, but, as a group, they’re also competing against a potential 4th TE. IOW, among RB, FB and TE, there may be only 8 spots total available.

    For OL, I’d say that only Solder, Mankins, Wendell, Connolly, Vollmer and Cannon have virtually guaranteed roster spots. Zusevics (also no lock), the McDonald brothers and the rest are competing for maybe 1-2 spots. Svitek is no lock, either, I don’t think. He’d be a solid veteran reserve for this OL, but could be surpassed by any of the rookies or 2nd-year guys.

    At TE, only Gronk and Hernandez are locks. Ballard had only the one good season before his injury and still has to prove himself in the Pats offense, so he’s no lock. Hoomanawanui developed into a pretty decent blocker in 2012 from the FB spot (though not so much as an in-line TE, he didn’t catch much and didn’t run the ball at all). Fells was a disappointment all around. Anyway, it’s not impossible that one of the UDFAs ands up as TE #3 (or #4).

    The Pats liked Kafka a lot before he was drafted by Philly. If he still shows them what they were interested in back then, it’s possible he could be a surprise roster inclusion. He is still PS-eligible, so they could risk him on waivers, though there are other ways to stash him. Mallett only goes if he’s traded, probably for a 2014 2nd. That would mean, though, that the Pats are pretty confident in Kafka as Brady’s backup.

  10. David L says:

    I like the good articles here, but also enjoy seeing fans knowledgeable of their team making comments.

    The way things stand now Gronk and Hernandez may not be ready for the start of the season. I’ve been watching football for decades and have to say I don’t know if they stay on the active roster if injured? Either way, I think they need to keep Fells as insurance.

    I don’t see Stankiewitch as more than a practice squad guy at this point, and may not be kept at all. I am confident McDonald will be on the roster as he played well last year. Any thoughts on if he beats out Danny Aiken as the long snapper? Stank. seems too slow for punt coverage but likely better on blocking for FG and extra points.

    Look for the punter Mesko to get traded or cut. The free agent punter Ryan Allen has a good shot to make the squad in a salary cap move. It would free up money to pursue John Abraham at DE or push that money to next year’s cap to sign our own free agents.
    I believe you can push a couple million to the next year’s cap.

    You have Zusevics over Svitek. Looks like a good camp battle.

    I predict a battle royal to make the defensive line. Do we really keep Bequette over Francis? I think Buchanan is a practice squad candidate while he adds weight/muscle.

    • td says:

      Mesko will be beaten out only if the new punter can nail it inside the 20 and make directional kicks.

      Whatever cap space is left at end of year is pushed to next year in full. BB always leaves 5-10mil to sign guys during the year. Sometimes uses some of the leftover cap to extend and give out bonuses.

      • Duuude says:

        I read that new punter had a three-step motion in college. If so then he’s a long shot to stick, as he has to change his routine in order to play in the NFL. Besides, Zoltan had 23/60 punts downed inside the 20 — a great percentage.

    • David L says:

      A left-footed punter puts a different spin on the ball which can cause problems for returners. I did read Ryan Allen does not hold for kicks. I don’t recall if Mesko does or not. If this guy is close to Mesko I think the Pats save $900K and move on.

      From I shortened this a little about the punter Ryan Allen:

      In 2012, Allen finished off his career by winning the Ray Guy Award again. Allen led the nation with a 48.04 punting average. 21 of his 45 punts went longer than 50 yards, with a long of 85. Twenty of his kicks were downed inside the 20, and none of his punts blocked.

      STRENGTHS Left-footed kicker, gives returners fits with the spin. Adequate size for the position. Solid three-step delivery with a get-off in the 1.25-1.35 second range. Very good hang time and nice touch within the 10 yard line, gets 5.0 seconds on shorter punts to force fair catches or have it land with a soft bounce to help coverage units.

      WEAKNESSES Possesses a good, but not elite leg, most 50-yard kicks don’t have superior hang time to prevent returns. Hang time decreases when rushing his delivery due to perceived pressure, though he still gets solid leg on the ball.

      BOTTOM LINE Allen excels at placing the ball inside the 10-yard line and has enough leg strength to stick around the NFL for many years if able to put more consistent height on longer kicks to prevent long returns from pro returners.

      • Liam says:

        Isn’t Mesko left footed?

        • Duuude says:

          Yes: Mesko is left-footed (and he holds for PKs). WIll be tough to beat out. There’s a reasons other guys were drafted and the two-time Ray Guy award winner wasn’t: Three step delivery is hard to change.

        • David L says:

          You are right. Shows I didn’t pay much attention. Thank you.

  11. Eric says:

    I could see Moe, Hines, Stank, Ebner, and Chris McDonald going to the practice squad. Cunningham gets cut, Francis stays. I think Gregory will stay at Ebner’s expense.

    • Samer Ismail says:

      Ebner’s not eligible for the PS. In any case, he was second in tackles on STs, and second in snaps, AND he has insane athleticism for a safety.

      I’d put it this way: at worst, Nate Ebner is Larry Izzo 2.0, which is worth a roster spot. If he can learn to actually play safety, he could be Rodney Harrison 2.0.

      • Jeff M says:

        Sorry but Ebner got beat like a drum all last year when actually playing safety…dude will never be Harrison.

        Also Harmon will be taking his STs spot also so yeah Gregory will be on the roster and Ebner will get cut just for roster casualties sake if nothing less. McCourty, Wilson, Wilson, Harmon and Gregory are locks because of either money or draft status. Ebner is toast.

        • td says:

          Unfortunately, Ebner & Wilson were pressed into safety play versus Seatle, with Wilson biting on double move by Sydney Rice for game winning TD. McCourty moved to S shortly after that.

        • Duuude says:

          Gregory’s ceiling is way lower than Ebner’s. He just doesn’t have the physical attributes to be an average starting NFL safety. He’s also overpaid. Not his fault, but it’s hard to justify his roster spot when he doesn’t play STs either.

          It’s too quick to give up on Ebner based on his play at safety. He wasn’t even a normal rookie, should never have been playing meaningful minutes. Really a failed coaching gamble having Chung/Gregory and no one who’d played an NFL down at S last year (before McCourty move).

      • David L says:

        I am hesitant for youth to be served here and it is a tough decision. Ebner a good special teams guy with athleticism. Gregory looks like a second stringer right now with a maybe too big salary.

        The problem I see is we are young in the defensive backfield if Gregory goes. Also, if a corner gets hurt does McCourty go back to CB and Gregory at safety?

        Gregory doesn’t seem to be highly regarded. Perhaps the Pats will look to bring in a veteran. Kerry Rhodes played well last year for Arizona. Would he be welcome with off-field rumors?

  12. Duuude says:

    Best position battles in camp:

    WR: Jones vs Moe vs keep them both and cut elsewhere (4 RBs instead of 5?). Think others on thread are seriously underrating Edelman who had a great camp last year and has lots of value on ST as well. Is he injury prone or just unlucky? Either way he makes the roster if healthy.

    OL: Svitek vs Zusevics vs McDonald. Stankiewitch backup OC or plan on moving to OC if Wendell gets hurt? I bet Cannon plays as much guard as tackle this year.

    Really most of the offensive roster spots are set. The battles are for spots that probably won’t be game-day active except for injuries.

    Defense is where it gets interesting.

    Freeney just came down in asking price, according to PFT. Will Abraham follow? That’s the missing puzzle piece, IMO: a proven 3rd down pass rusher.

    Related: How many DEs are kept? Francis vs Bequette vs Buchanan vs Cunningham. If no Abraham, maybe it’s only 4 — but if we sign a vet, then I bet we make an extra spot for a youngster. My guess: Francis and Buchanan. Hope Bequette surprises, but it’s a bad omen that he couldn’t make a single game-day roster last year.

    CB: Keep 5? 6 seems high. The big question here is whether Ras-I can play.

    S: Think they’d like to keep Ebner given how much run he got on specials last year, and how little football he’s played to date. But hard to see 5 roster spots for S. BB doesn’t chase sunk costs though — I’m not sure Harman makes the squad. And I bet Gregory is gone. He’s got a surprisingly high cap number and he’s just too small to tackle. I expect to see McCourty and Adrian Wilson starting, think you’re right about that. T WIlson gets another year to develop and play in the dime package.

    Other sleepers: Forston, the UDFA from South Florida at DT. Also Love vs Deaderick (vs those two youngsters).

    It’ll be interesting on defense especially.

    • Jeff M says:

      Buchanan will replace Cunningham. Other than that DE stays the same. Armstead replaces Pryor/Wright role. Forston may pass Love and Kelly takes Deadericks starting spot.

      Gronk may start the season on PUP also. Cole and Ebner are gone with Ryan and Harmon in and Steve takes Whites spot while Collins takes Scott’s backup role for now.

      Stankweitch will go PS and McDonald will make the roster along with Cannon, Svitek and Vusevich.

    • JT Strife says:

      DUUUUUUDE. I really liked all of your points, but Harmon is obviously! going to make the squad. Belichick flexed his three quarter sleeved arms to select Duron in the 3rd round, he and we are pot committed to developing him at the expense of Gregory or Ebner.

      I hope it is Gregory (saves more money, Ebner is younger could develop and plays ST where as STevgreg does not).

      • Duuude says:

        Yeah, on reflection I think you’re right. Still think Gregory is the odd man out, but you don’t cut a 3rd rounder out of camp. (Maybe it’s just that I think of him as a 6-7th round pick, to make myself feel better?)

  13. the truth says:

    Quentin Hines instead of bolden plz

    • JT Strife says:

      Not trying to be abrasive, but did you not watch the games in which Bolden played last year?

      We already have a semi-feature back in Ridley, he is honestly a top 15- top-10 back on the rise. Vereen was drafted before him, has explosive quickness and receiving ability, in a mold similar to Woodhead but with more size I believe. Bolden fills out the rotation with a power running style, deceiving speed, steroids as well for good measure.

      • David L says:

        I have to agree in that I don’t think Hines wins a spot at RB. I suppose he could beat out Blount in a cost cutting move, but then that would raise the question why did we trade for him?

  14. Matt says:

    No McDonald? Have to think he makes it over the Penn State kid.

    Svitek too, unless he’s hurt, doesn’t he make it?

    Also wouldn’t be shocked if Jenkins made it.

  15. Trev says:

    I agree that Gregory may be the odd-man out at Safety. I think Bequette could miss the cut (insert Fortson or Francis) and I’d take TJ Moe over Bolden and keep only 4 RBs. I could also see Ebner being gone to make room for Svitek.

    • Jeff M says:

      Bolden will make before Blount does. Much more potential than the others except Ridley and Vereen but those 3 and Washington are for sure making it.

  16. AT says:

    Doubt Bequette or Blount make the cut over high-motor guys like Francis or Deadrick.

  17. jahnelss says:

    Edelman has been injured every year, I say you cut him anduse him as a medial guy incase of injury. Francis & vega have to make the team. I want to know what the practice sqaud will look like. I think almost all the rutgers guys will make it, not because he loves the school, but they all have high football iq, atleast most of them from what I can see. Harmon is the best kept secret. If you see the arkansa game, he was never fooled.

    • David L says:

      Remember Edelman started over Welker at the beginning of last season. I assume that means the coaching staff likes him a lot.

    • JT Strife says:


      – I completely disagree with you about Edelman. Sure he is injury prone, but so is Amendola, which is why you want Edelman around. (it’s an oxymoron don’t worry about it) But Edelman in my humble opinion can be a slot receiver at just a notch below Welker’s previous production in this system (watch the film last year to see the potential) and he returns punts very well, can return kickoffs, can play special teams and defensive back in emergency situations. No we are not cutting him, but I like your other points about Vega, francis, and Harmon.

      Basically I like this projection, but I feel like we will sign Abraham or someone random before the season begins.

  18. Larry says:

    Svitec is a lock so eliminate either Cole or Dowling…………Blount or Bolden will not make the team a FA signing Cory Grissom def lineman could make it………..FA Sudfeid will battle Hoomanawanui at TE…. TJ Moe will battle Edelman…………….

  19. DanMcG82 says:

    I see people talking about how the Patriots are going to use their safeties and maybe it’s just me but I’d probably throw McCourty down to corner and put Harmon and Adrian Wilson out in base/run defense situation then put Adrian Wilson as a money backer and move McCourty to safety to play with Tavon Wilson in nickel/dime defense.

    • td says:

      I was thinking along those lines also. If one or two of the young safeties and Wilson step up, the plan could change to line McCourty back up at cornerback and really solidify that position.

  20. Marc says:

    i like this alot, my only 2 differences was only 4 RB so Bolden gone for Joh Abraham…..and Bequette gone for Jason Vega…….PS for bequette Bolden probally gone PED killed him last year.

  21. Mike B. says:

    I’m interested to see the DE competition in training camp, especially if they add a veteran like John Abraham or Dwight Freeney to the mix. I think it could be a toss up between Jake Bequette or Justin Francis. Francis flashed more last year as an undrafted rookie but they invested a 3rd round pick on Bequette, so we shall see.

  22. Ryan B says:

    1. It is either Blount or Bolden. Blount isn’t a goal line back in fact I think he is somewhat worthless, I think they want to push Bolden.

    2. I think Tavon starts at SS and Adrian comes in on special situations.

    3. I think TJ Moe makes it. Loved him in college. I think he can do things Edelman cant, and with Leon returning Edelmans role decreased. Jones may also not make it his or at least contract says they don’t have much faith in him.

    4. Francis could make the team yet again. Cunningham was serviceable at most, but he could make another leap. Also, Forston or another UDFA DT/NT.

    • David L says:

      I can see why the Pats might want Tavon Wilson to be the starter at SS as that would mean he is playing great. However, Adrian Wilson will not lead the secondary if he is on the bench and I think that is what BB wants. Recall he talked about draft pick Harmon being a good communicator for the secondary at Rutgers, and I think that’s why they got Adrian Wilson. I think he starts and moves to LB in passing situations with Tavon coming in at SS.

      It will be fun to watch what happens.

  23. Justin says:

    If Dowling isn’t healthy I don’t see how he makes it past the final cuts. I think Justin Francis will make the team. And I see Nick McDonald making it over either Stankiewitch or Zusevics.

  24. D.S.T. says:

    Switch in Gregory and stash Ebner on the PS.

    • Ryan B says:

      Shoot forgot all about that one good call.. Gregory definitely needs to be on the team.

      • cc says:

        Gregory…? Yeah, probably a sneaky little reason he was so easy2forget!
        ………uhmm, this might make it easier for you. It’s called FILL IN THE BLANK……….

        GREGORY S_CK’_ !

  25. AM says:

    I’m wondering if Harmon might take Ebner’s place as a special teamer and fourth safety. I think that Tavon Wilson is more likely to pair with McCourty than play behind him (splitting time with Adrian Wilson at SS), leaving Harmon behind McCourty at FS. If so, Ebner might drop off the list, opening a slot up for Justin Francis or Brandon Deaderick.

    I would also expect either Dowling or Cole to be left behind, and Will Svitek to take the swing tackle position. I can see Cannon getting work as a backup on the interior as well, though the team does seem settled on his primary role being at tackle.

    Any idea as to whether Stankiewitch has potential at guard, or is he strictly a center?

    • JT Strife says:

      AM: I completely agree with the Harmon-Ebner swap out in terms of roles. I foresee the PS in the future of Nate Ebner, considering Belichick used a 3rd rounder on Harmon.


      – I completely disagree with you about Edelman. Sure he is injury prone, but so is Amendola, which is why you want Edelman around. (it’s an oxymoron don’t worry about it) But Edelman in my humble opinion can be a slot receiver at just a notch below Welker’s previous production in this system (watch the film last year to see the potential) and he returns punts very well, can return kickoffs, can play special teams and defensive back in emergency situations. No we are not cutting him, but I like your other points about Vega, francis, and Harmon.

      Basically I like this projection, but I feel like we will sign Abraham or someone random before the season begins.

      • Patrik says:

        Ebner isn’t PS-eligible, so your vision of the future might be clouded.

  26. Eric says:

    I’d say take out Blount, add Svitek. Otherwise I agree at this point. If Abraham signs, maybe Dowling or Cole goes.

  27. Patsfan says:

    What if the Pats lock up John Abraham – who do you think goes? Marquise Cole? or would it have to be one of Bequette or Buchanan?


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