NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
Perhaps the biggest roster questions heading into the season for the Patriots has already been answered. Rob Gronkowski is cleared to play and will not begin the season on PUP.
With his status cleared up, the most significant roster questions reside on the offensive and defensive lines. How will those positions shake out as training camp unfolds?
Here is what I project the Patriots 53-man roster to look like at the end of summer.
Quarterbacks (3): Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garappolo
Running Backs (4): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White, Brandon Bolden
Fullback/H-Back (1): James Develin
Tight Ends (2): Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui
Wide Receivers (6): Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson*, Brandon LaFell, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce
Offensive Tackles (4): Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon (OG), Cameron Fleming
Offensive Guards (4): Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly (OC), Jon Halapio, Josh Kline
Centers (1): Bryan Stork
Defensive Ends (4): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Will Smith, Zach Moore
Defensive Tackles (5): Vince Wilfork, Dominique Easley, Tommy Kelly, Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones
Linebackers (6): Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, James Anderson, Cameron Gordon, Chris White
Cornerbacks (5*): Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner (Susp.), Logan Ryan, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Dax Swanson*
Safeties (4): Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner, Jemea Thomas
Specialists (4): Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Matthew Slater, Danny Aiken
Final Cuts: Ryan Wendell, Michael Buchanan, Patrick Chung, Joe Vellano, Justin Green, Steve Beauharnais
Practice Squad: Stephen Houston (RB), Roy Finch (RB), Travis Hawkins (CB), Jeremy Gallon (WR), Asa Watson (TE), Chris Barker (OG), Ja’Gared Davis (LB), Eathyn Malumaleuna (DT)
– Aaron Dobson is a candidate to begin the season on the PUP list, until he practices. If Dobson starts on PUP the Patriots would add another RB.
– Tommy Kelly could potentially be stashed on the PUP list until after week 6.
– Brandon Browner won’t count against the 53 man roster for the first four weeks, allowing Dax Swanson or Justin Green to sneak on the roster.
– There isn’t another Tight End on the current roster that is worthy of a roster spot. In this situation James Develin garners major snaps as the 3rd Tight End and only Fullback on the roster.
– Brandon Bolden is reluctantly on the roster, but there is a very real possibility the team cuts for one of the UDFAs or to use the roster spot at another position.
– The 5th and 6th Linebackers on the roster will be Special Teams players as always. Two from the group of Chris White, Cameron Gordon, Steve Beauharnais, Josh Hull, and Darius Fleming will make it.
– Carrying three Quarterbacks adds another dynamic and essentially takes away a roster spot from a bubble player.
– Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell both won’t make the roster. Connolly has the bigger cap hit, but also adds OG/OC versatility. Unless Josh Kline shows he can play some Center then Connolly’s spot gets more tenuous. But, with a handful of Offensive Linemen that can’t be cut the more versatile player is likely to make it.
– Don’t immediately write Patrick Chung off the roster. The team is thrilled to have him back in a Special Teams and depth capacity. He’s probably the next player on the roster in this scenario.