2015 New England Patriots: Ranking the Roster from 90 to 1

True “Bubble” Players

64. Chris White (26), LB: An almost anonymous member of the Patriots the last two seasons. White is a pure Special Teams Linebacker that offers nothing in terms of defensive ability. The Patriots signed additional bodies as competition this off-season and actively scoured the market for better Linebacker depth. White is a solid ST performer, but it appeared the team made a conscious effort to add faster, more athletic special teamers such as Matt Wells.

63. Tavon Wilson (25), SAF: Looks like we’re arriving at the end of the road in New England for Tavon Wilson. Wilson has never developed into the type of player that’s expected of a 2nd Round draft pick. He’s was dramatically overdrafted back in 2012, which established almost unrealistic expectations for the player. The truth is he’s always been a limited player, especially in coverage. Whether he was drafted in the 2nd Round or 7th Round he was always going to be just a depth Safety and Special Teams contributor. The Patriots used another 2nd Round pick on a Safety this year in Jordan Richards and there simply isn’t room for both of them.

62. Jonathan Freeny (26), LB: A key member of the Dolphins Special Teams units last season and the Patriots wasted no time signing him up after the start of free agency. Freeny posted 10 Special Teams tackles last season including 9 solo tackles and he also blocked a punt. Freeny has experience on multiple units and has a good chance to make the final roster as one of the core Special teams backers.

61. Jake Bequette (26), TE: Part of the 2012 draft and just like Tavon Wilson, time is running out. He never appeared close to developing into a consistent NFL pass rusher. The Patriots are throwing a hail Mary by converting him to Tight End four years into his NFL journey. Early returns have been encouraging, but the depth ahead of him on the roster is daunting. Unless Bequette shows he can make some kind of impact this season his football career in New England is likely coming to an end. **If he was only playing Defensive End he’d be about 20 spots lower on this list**

60. Matthew Wells (24), LB: Wells is a hybrid defender gifted with elite speed for 90% of the positions on the football field and especially Linebacker. In college Wells excelled in coverage as part of Mississippi State’s Nickel and Dime packages. During college he displayed the ability to flex out to cover Wide Receivers, man cover Running Backs releasing, and line up over Tight Ends. As he transitions to the NFL his speed will serve him well. The immediate future will be focused on Special Teams and using his 4.44 speed to get down field as fast as he can to cover kicks. If he makes the roster as a core special teamer, then the coaching staff can begin to work him into certain coverage packages. Since the Linebacker depth chart is so jumbled, he’s got a very good chance to stick and his blazing speed is likely to be the defining factor.

59. Darius Fleming (26), LB: Made the practice squad with strong Pre-Season performances in 2014 and needs to follow it up with another strong summer. Now in his fourth season and second in the Patriots system, Fleming needs to show that he can add something to the base defense. There is a prime opportunity ahead of him because when LB depth chart consists of star talent and then a huge drop-off to fringe roster talent, nothing in between. Fleming should try to be that guy in between.

58. Daryl Roberts (24), CB: A 7th Round pick out of Marshall who possesses exceptional athletic ability. He instantly became one of the best athletes in the organization the minute he was drafted. Roberts showcased exciting potential and playmaking ability during mini-camp, elevating the expectations for himself during the summer. Roberts needs to translate his athleticism to coverage and prove to coaches he’s not just an athlete. Cornerbacks get picked apart and criticized every single day in camp because they’re always on an island and their mistakes are so visible during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. As long as Roberts limits the mental mistakes, consistently competes hard, and shows tangible improvements he has a chance. His path to the 53-man roster is well-defined — beat out one of the three veteran CBs ahead of him.

57. Brian Tyms (26), WR: Tyms’ stock skyrocketed after his Week 6 performance against Buffalo and then it crashed like it was 1929. He earned his playing time last year after a solid pre-season and because of injuries to Aaron Dobson. The way I see it right now there are three receivers (Dobson, Gibson, Tyms) fighting for one.. maybe two roster spots. If Dobson has a strong camp he’s on the roster no matter what and Gibson is a proven veteran who Belichick has had his eyes on for awhile. That means Tyms needs to have a tremendous pre-season to earn any playing time. Consistency has been an issue for him at times, as has the variety of routes he’s able to get open on. If he fails to crack the roster, he’s still practice squad eligible, which will keep him in the organization.

56. Tyler Gaffney (24), RB: He’s a complete mystery heading into training camp. No one really knows what to expect out of the 2nd year Running Back from Stanford. After stealing him off waivers from Carolina July, he was like an extra draft pick for the 2015 season. Gaffney will compete with Jonas Gray for playing time alongside LeGarrette Blount. If everything goes to plan he’ll make the roster and provide much needed depth at Running Back. But, let’s be honest, no one knows if that’s going to happen.. not even the coaching staff. There is definitely an open roster spot to be won. It won’t surprise me if he easily makes the final roster, at the same time it won’t surprise me if he’s cut by September 1st. Gaffney is definitely one to watch closely.

55. Brandon Gibson (27), WR: Gibson’s signing went completely unnoticed back in March, but if healthy he has a legitimate shot to make the 53-man roster. He has experience in Josh McDaniels’ offense and the Patriots have long been admirers of his game. Gibson appeared to be rounding back into form towards the middle of last season and caught at least one pass in 10 straight games. There are definite concerns about his explosiveness and speed after the knee injury. If the Patriots carry 5 WR, all he needs to do is beat out Brian Tyms (as of right now) to make the team.

54. Dane Fletcher (28), LB: It was reported on Friday that Dane Fletcher will begin the season on PUP as he recovers from another Torn ACL. If that’s the case his roster spot isn’t in doubt until after Week 6 of the season. By that time the team may have their LB depth sorted out, making Fletcher expendable. Another ACL tear and an extended absence is rough news for a player battling to keep a roster spot.

53. James Morris (23), LB: Might be a little high on this list, but I believe the organization really likes this player. They had lengthy discussions about keeping him on 53-man roster last season before he got banged up in the final pre-season game, which opened the door for the convenient I.R. placement. Morris can add depth to the base defense and also contribute on Special Teams. He needs to stay on the field all of training camp to make up ground he lost last year and beat out some more experienced veterans. Fletcher’s injury probably increases his chances of making the team.

Veterans Not Guaranteed to Make the Final Roster

52. Jonas Gray (25), RB: He’s likely to be on the team for Week One while LeGarrette Blount serves his one game suspension. After that Gray has both a clear path onto the roster and a clear path off the roster. He’s competing with Tyler Gaffney for what looks like one roster spot. He found himself in Bill Belichick’s doghouse late last season and must dig himself out with a consistent summer. If the Patriots sign a veteran Running Back before the season begins, his spot could be in trouble.

51. Zach Moore (24), DL: Moore showed up to camp with at least 10 pounds of added muscles and bulk to his already sizable frame. The additional size will help him become more a more versatile defender and in turn more valuable to the coaching staff. He showed some promise as a “depth” end of the line defender as a rookie and the hope is he can now  kick inside on some downs to provide teams with different looks. At a position group where roster spots are limited, the more positions you can play the better. Personally, I’m still not convinced he’ll be on the roster, especially if rookies Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom have strong pre-seasons.

50. Michael Hoomanawanui (27), TE: Hooman is a favorite whipping boy of Patriots fans and quite frankly the Patriots should be able to do better. The problem is Hooman is the best blocking TE on the roster (behind Gronk) and that’s something AJ Derby, Jake Bequette have little experience with. Hooman will be on the roster unless the Patriots decide to keep only two tight ends or they sign another veteran. The fact he’s already received a 300K roster bonus only increases his chances.

49. Chris Jones (25), DT: Jones has been a productive player since the Patriots claimed him off waivers from the Houston Texans prior to the 2013 season. In less than two full seasons Jones has tallied 9.0 sacks, an impressive number for any interior defensive lineman. Heading into his third season, Jones faces tougher competition for a roster spot. There is certain to be a numbers crunch on the defensive line this year after investing draft picks and free agent money on the position. The position battle is likely to come down to Zach Moore or Jones for the final defensive line spot. As a fifth defensive tackle, Jones is great value.

48. Josh Kline (25), OG: Kline has developed into a valuable depth piece on the offensive line. Kline was called on to start crucial games the last two seasons (vs. Baltimore in 2013 and the AFC Championship Game in 2014) and both times he’s performed admirably. It’s clear the coaching staff really likes him and envision him as another Dan Connolly type player. This organization is the very best at finding undrafted Offensive Lineman and developing them into reliable contributors, Kline looks like the latest one. He has the inside track on the final interior offensive line job and if he’s able to fend off guys like Chris Barker he’ll be on the team.

47. Aaron Dobson (24), WR: It’s do or die time for Aaron Dobson who is now in his third NFL season. Last year was basically a wash due to a foot injury, which halted all the positive momentum he created as a rookie. When healthy and fully engaged, there’s no doubt he’s the most talented of the receivers vying for that final spot. He adds size and a much needed vertical ability to the Patriots passing attack. The early whispers coming out of camp are all positive, but he can’t relent whatsoever. Not only does Dobson have to have strong practices, he needs to show up in games, and really rebuild his rapport with both QBs. Consistency has been an issue for Dobson in the past and if he shows complacency after a few good weeks, he’ll be gone. There is definitely a roster spot and game time available for him on this football team, now it’s all up to him.

46. Nate Ebner (26), SAF: Ebner is a core special teams member and will retain his roster spot because of it. He offers almost nothing to the defense, but his ability to cover kicks, tackle, and be in position to make plays on Special Teams is why he was drafted. It’s unlikely the Patriots can carry more than four Safeties this year so the roster battle is simple. It’s Tavon Wilson vs. Nate Ebner for one spot. My money is on Ebner.

45. Robert McClain (27), CB: McClain’s spot on the roster looks fairly secure because of his experience playing slot cornerback. He’s played 47 games the past three seasons with the vast majority of reps coming in the slot. Bill Belichick spoke highly of his smarts, work ethic, and ability when asked about him this week. If rookie Daryl Roberts really shines this summer then McClain’s spot could come under fire.

44. Bradley Fletcher (29), CB: Fletcher, McClain, and Brown can be placed in any order, they’re all in the same boat. At least two and probably all three veterans will make the final roster, with Fletcher the most likely because of the money committed to him. Fletcher is coming off a disappointing season in Philadelphia, but up to that point had been a steady player in the secondary. A 7-year veteran, Fletcher has been battle tested and has ideal size for a perimeter cornerback. The battle between Fletcher, Brown, Butler, and Ryan for the outside CB spots will be fascinating as camp progresses.

43. Tarell Brown (30), CB:  Brown signing right before training camp really filled a hole and solidified the defensive back depth chart in my opinion. There appears to be a significant amount of playing time available for him and really the only question is how he bounces back from his foot injury. Brown’s been a reliable coverman for the last 5 years and has a ton of playoff experience. He’s played a variety of coverages and that experience will come in handy with the Patriots “spin the dial” defenses. Brown’s contract details show that he was signed to make this team and play a lot of snaps. He’s not just a camp veteran looking to latch on.

42. Travaris Cadet (26), RB: A pass catching specialist out of the backfield, the hope is he can alleviate the loss of Shane Vereen. After catching 38 passes in New Orleans last season the Patriots signed the Restricted Free Agent and he’s expected to see a lot of playing time. Cadet doesn’t offer much as a ball-carrier, but he’s extremely versatile and can line up all over the formation. With the way the Patriots manipulate their Running Backs there is no doubt they’ll find creative ways to use him. Cadet’s standing on the roster looks fairly solid, however if both James White and Dion Lewis outperform him, the Patriots can cut ties with no consequences.

41. Ryan Wendell (29), OL: While Wendell’s longterm future with the club looks in doubt, he’s likely going to be given one more season in the organization. Right now Wendell’s on PUP, but the Patriots will need his experience and veteran leadership at the start of the season. It’s not the best idea to start two rookies on the interior offensive line, especially with a young Quarterback, so slotting Wendell into one of the Guard spots will help. As both Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson develop, his playing time will decline and eventually result in a parting of ways. For now the Patriots need his veteran presence in the room and in the huddle to groom the youngsters.

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5 Responses to “2015 New England Patriots: Ranking the Roster from 90 to 1”

  1. J H TARBORO says:

    After watching our game, and other games from around league, i’m still disappointed we didn’t draft an RB or WR. There will be talent available in the next 2wks. and i hope Nick Casario is willing bring in these guys. It’s hard to predict the final 53.

  2. Russell says:

    Here are my surprise cut guy’s for the Patriots;
    WR Dobson (ham string)
    SS Chung
    FB Devlin
    LB Fletcher
    OL Barker
    WR Boyce

  3. Russell says:

    I have my doubts about Chandler Jones, with his injuries, and the cost of keeping him. Where Hightower, and Collins are a lock.

  4. AM says:

    Great listing, though I’m not sure about the plausibility of extending the trio of Hightower, Chandler Jones, and Collins. I wonder if the Sheard signing was not just about a pass rush rotation, but also a hedge against Jones leaving. I love him as a player, but balancing the production and the injuries, I can definitely see the market getting far too expensive for the Patriots when his contract is up.

  5. howie horvath says:

    Well done! I have a feeling S. Chandler is going to make a significant contribution to the team’s success in 2015 and M. Butler will take the next step to establish himself as a talented starter. M.Brown and D. Easley represent the biggest mystery and greatest potential impact given what the team now has around them on D.

    Let the games begin!!

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