NEPD Editor: James Christensen
After picking up 16 rookies in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Patriots are going to have some stiff competition to make their 53-man roster.
Here is my initial projection.
Quarterback (2): Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo
That was easy.
Running Back (5*): Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden, James White, Tyler Gaffney, James Develin, LeGarrette Blount* (Suspended Game 1)
With Blount suspended for game one, it remains to be seen who will get the lion’s share of the carries.
Wide Receiver (6): Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Brian Tyms, Matthew Slater
The competition for the fourth and fifth spots between Dobson, Tyms and Josh Boyce will be fierce. Brandon Gibson will have a say as well.
Tight End (4): Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Tim Wright, AJ Derby
The Patriots haven’t kept four tight ends in a while, but I think Derby’s upside makes it palatable. Losing Michael Hoomanawanui is a small blow, but Chandler should make up for it.
Offensive Line (9): Nate Solder, Ryan Wendell, Bryan Stork, Tre Jackson, Sebastian Vollmer, Cameron Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Josh Kline, Shaq Mason
Nine might be one too many, but with all the young players on the roster it makes sense. Dan Connolly could push one player off if he is re-signed.
Defensive Tackle (4): Dominique Easley, Malcom Brown, Sealver Siliga, Alan Branch
Siliga and Branch bring the beef, while Brown and Easley are more disruptors. Chris Jones or Joe Vellano could be additional DL here as well.
Defensive End (4): Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers
That is a stout group of ends against the run, with just enough upside as rushers.
Linebackers (6): Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo, Geneo Grissom, James Morris, Matthew Wells
The top three comprise the best linebacker corps in the league. The next three will find roles to play on special teams and in sub packages.
Cornerbacks (6): Alfonzo Dennard, Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, Bradley Fletcher, Darryl Roberts
High on depth, but low on top-end talent. Will need the front-seven to do some work.
Safeties (4): Devin McCourty, Pat Chung, Jordan Richards, Duron Harmon
With the ability of Logan Ryan to play some safety, Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner get the axe in favor of the younger and cheaper Darryl Richards.
Specialists (3): Ryan Allen, Stephen Gostkowski, Joe Cardona
No surprises here. If Cardona isn’t cleared, then Tyler Ott would be re-signed.