NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
After all the projecting and prognosticating the Patriots cut their roster down to the league mandate of 53. Actually the Patriots took it a step further and cut the roster to 51. As is always the case there were a few surprises and this year an unprecedented number of rookies on the roster.
Here is how the Patriots roster breaks down and what could be in store over the weekend as the Patriots try to finalize their team.
Here is how the current roster breaksdown:
Quarterbacks (2): Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett
Running Backs (5): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Leon Washington, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden
Fullback (1): James Develin
Receivers (6) Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater
Tight Ends (3): Rob Gronkowski, Zach Sudfeld, Michael Hoomanawanui
Offensive Tackles (3): Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Will Svitek
Interior OL (5): Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, Marcus Cannon, Josh Kline
Defensive Ends (4): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Michael Buchanan, Jake Bequette
Defensive Tackles (3): Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Joe Vellano
Linebackers (6): Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Dane Fletcher, Steve Beauharnais
Cornerbacks (5): Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, Marquice Cole
Safties (5): Devin McCourty, Steve Gregory, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner
Specialists (3): Ryan Allen, Stephen Gostkowski, Danny Aiken
Open Roster Spots (2)
1) The Patriots chose to cut their roster to 51, two below the league limit. This means it’ll be a busy few days for the team as they attempt to put the finishing touches on their 2013 roster. Last season the Patriots claimed Matt Tennant off waivers and traded for WR Greg Salas the day after cutdowns. With two open roster spots and a few tenuous players still left, I expect the Patriots to be one of the more active teams tomorrow.
2) The first thing that stands out when looking at the roster is the lack of depth on the defensive line. By cutting Jermaine Cunningham, Marcus Benard, Marcus Forston and Justin Francis the Patriots have left themselves exposed if an injury comes up. It’s a near certainty that the Patriots add at least one player to the mix and possibly one at both DE and DT. While on the topic of the DL, Joe Vellano an undrafted All-American from Maryland makes his way onto the roster. Vellano was one of my favorite prospects during the draft process, mainly for his unmatched work ethic and effort on the field. We’ll see how long Vellano sticks around.
3) Last year the Patriots offense was built around the tight end position. This year after one off-season murder and a back injury the Patriots choose to keep only three TEs and two healthy ones on the active roster. This is another position where I expect the Patriots to be active. Daniel Fells had fallen out of favor and carried a big cap hit, Jake Ballard couldn’t get healthy and as a result the front office has been burning up the phones looking for another tight end. Keep an eye on this position tomorrow.
4) Ryan Allen beats out fan favorite Zoltan Mesko for the punting job. As I stated after the draft, the fact that the Patriots brought in a legitimate punter for competition wasn’t a good sign for Mesko. Mesko had a sizable cap hit and was a free agent at season’s end, which meant he could be replaced. Allen is a two-time Ray Guy award winner and was considered one of the top punting prospects in the 2013 draft. While Mesko is the better punter right now, Ryan Allen has a stronger leg and offers a higher ceiling. It’s Allen’s stronger leg combined with a minimum salary and team control that tipped the scales in his favor.
5) As of now the Patriots 51 man roster consists of 12 rookies, seven of which were drafted and an unprecedented five priority free agents. The entire 2013 Patriots draft class made the roster and look pretty secure in their standing. Five undrafted free agents is a large number for one season, but Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld aren’t typical free agents. Both players secured starting roles with standout performances in training camp. Ryan Allen won the punter’s job, which means he is essentially a starter and Joe Vellano is the lone backup at defensive tackle. The only UDFA that maybe in trouble if other roster moves are made is OG Josh Kline. Personally I thought Kline struggled this preseason and was surprised to see him on the roster. It’s likely if the Patriots find an interior OL they like on the waiver wire then Kline will be the odd man out. With that being said, having 11-12 rookies on the team reflects nicely on the job the scouting staff did to identify talent. It also means the Patriots have a large chunk of their roster made up of cheap, team friendly contracts.
6) Besides Josh Kline, there are a few more guys that probably shouldn’t celebrate too hard tonight. Nate Ebner, Leon Washington, James Develin and Joe Vellano are all players that could be cut if the Patriots find veterans they like better on waivers.
7) It rare to see the Patriots carry more than 4-5 running backs. This year they kept 6 running backs on the active roster, making it a position of strength and depth. Leon Washington and Brandon Bolden, both found their way onto the roster despite being on the bubble. Washington and Bolden are both special teams contributors and it likely helped their case to make the team. James Develin had a solid training camp, but I was still surprised to see him make the team. He’s basically a traditional fullback that doesn’t offer much in terms of run production. With 6 RBs expect the Patriots to utilize more two back formations and get their offensive weapons on the field together.
8) Adrian Wilson has to be the biggest disappointment of camp. When he was signed in March everyone had huge expectations and started dreaming of what he could do on this defense. Today he was placed on IR with a (cough, cough) with a hamstring injury, ending his season. Quite simply, Wilson isn’t the player he once was and lost more than one step in coverage. It’s a shame because I really don’t like their alternatives at safety. Although I do think Steve Gregory gets unfairly criticized at times.
9) The wide receiver spot was the most unsettled heading into the summer. As it turns out the position was actually one of the best in camp and the easiest to cut down.
10) Tim Tebow will be missed. It didn’t work out and it might be time to put the QB dream on the back burner. I’m sure Tim Tebow is going to do great things and touch many lives once he leaves football.