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

Firmly Entrenched on the 53-Man Roster

40. Joe Cardona (23), LS:  Cardona isn’t one of the 40 best players in the organization, but his position is one of the most secure. He’s the only long snapper on the roster, the Patriots just used a 5th round pick on him, and he’s from Navy. He’s not going anywhere.

39. Geneo Grissom (23), LB: Rookie third round picks are guaranteed roster spots, so Grissom will be on the team in 2015. Whether he sees the field is another story. Like Jordan Richards, I felt like Grissom was an overdraft in the 3rd round. His versatility and smarts are what likely sold Bill Belichick. It’s been a quiet start to his Patriots career as he hasn’t generated much buzz coming out of training camp or OTAs. The pre-season games will be huge for him and unlike some other rookies I think the learning curve will be a bit steeper because he never settled into one position at Oklahoma. It will take the coaching staff some time to figure out the best way to utilize him as well.

38. Alan Branch (30), DT: Signed midway through last season and played an important role on the way to the Super Bowl. The Patriots re-upped him to a 2 year contract (2nd year is an option) for a good chunk of change. Branch showed up to camp and has been unable to pass the conditioning test, which is a bad look. The Patriots really need Branch’s size and power in the middle of the defensive line after parting ways with Vince Wilfork. Branch can play in both 3-man and 4-man fronts, which is basically a necessity for all Patriots DL at this point. While there are still questions about his weight and conditioning, he’ll be on the roster if he’s in shape and motivated.

37. James White (23), RB: White has a huge opportunity ahead of him and a chance to earn significant playing time this season. The team is giving him every chance to become the lead “pass catching back” and step into Shane Vereen’s shoes. From the minute he was drafted in 2014 the succession plan became clear. White is not nearly as explosive or dynamic as Vereen, but he should be able to handle all the check down/swing pass/screen opportunities that the Patriots offense relies on. If White fails to capture the job this summer and looks marginal, the team will probably be forced to go outside the organization to find another a RB solution.

36. Duron Harmon (24), SAF: Harmon looks penciled in as the backup Free Safety to Devin McCourty and should see his fair share of playing time in different coverage schemes. He came on strong last season and made some big plays in the playoffs. Harmon’s interception to seal the Divisional Round playoff game vs. the Ravens will live on for a long time. The coaching staff trusted him in big situations last season (playing on the final drive of the Super Bowl) and it’ll be interesting to see if he can improve his performance any further this season. He will be on the 53 man roster.

35. Trey Flowers (21), DE: Flowers is a very good football player that slipped to the 4th round of the draft for some unknown reason. He’s always been a better player than 3rd Round pick Geneo Grissom and he will be a better NFL player in my opinion. Flowers is a lock to make the roster and will earn playing time as a rotational defensive end. Flowers is tremendous at the point of attack, can set the edge, and use his long arms to disrupt blockers. Flowers’ presence may force someone like Zach Moore to become expendable.

34. Shaq Mason (21), OG: Running with the first team during the early parts of camp while Ryan Wendell is out. Mason has a great opportunity to not necessarily pass Wendell on the depth chart, but prove he can make a contribution in some capacity this season. There is no doubting his run blocking ability, but if he shows he can be consistent in pass protection, it’ll be only a matter of time before he’s starting. Between Mason, Jackson, and Kline the depth at Interior OL heading into the 2015 seasons is much, much better than it was last September.

33. Cameron Fleming (22), OT: The Patriots found a niche role for Cameron Fleming during his rookie season and he excelled in it (extra Tight End). Fleming is still one of the youngest players on the team, but his future looks bright. He should see more time at Guard this season, some Right Tackle and he will definitely be utilized as an extra Tight End in goal line packages yet again. Over the next 12 months it’ll be interesting to see if he can develop to a point that could Sebastian Vollmer tradable. With one season under his belt the Patriots are counting on him to make more contributions this year.

32. Brandon Bolden (25), RB: Became a vital part of the team last season with his special teams exploits and earned himself a multiyear contract extension. Bolden’s spot on the roster is very secure. Behind Matthew Slater he might be the best Special Teams player on the roster and we know how much value those players have in the eyes on Bill Belichick. Bolden should see some added reps at tailback this year, where he has shown flashes, but never any type of consistency in the NFL.

31. Tre’ Jackson (22), OG: Appears to be the front runner to start at Right Guard and which is an encouraging indication of how he’s looked so far. Jackson has a lengthy track record playing next to Center Bryan Stork and the duo look to solidify the Patriots interior line for years to come. Jackson is NFL ready and proved that with a dominating performance at the Senior Bowl. Both Dante Scarnecchia and Rich Trickett vouch for Tre Jackson and that’s good enough for me. Even if he doesn’t start, Jackson will see significant playing time this season.

30. James Develin (27), FB: Has developed himself into a core member of his roster and the only real fullback option on the 90 man depth chart. Develin has shown steady improvement each of the last two seasons and will be on this roster, unless the Patriots decided to eliminate the position all together.

29. Ryan Allen (25), P: Fresh off a long term extension, Allen faces no competition in training camp and simply has to focus on getting better. Allen had some clutch punts last season, including one in the Super Bowl. Along with Joe Cardona and Stephen Gostkowski, the Patriots now have their specialists locked up for the foreseeable future. It’s one less headache for the front office and coaching staff to worry about.

28. Jordan Richards (22), SAF: I’m on record stating that Jordan Richards was a big reach in the draft and I’ll stand by that. However, the buzz coming out of training camp and the things I hear from people close to the Patriots are all very positive about Richards. The Patriots knew he was smart and possessed sparkling leadership traits. But, they’ve been equally impressed with his anticipation and vision in the defensive backfield thus far. He has a long way to go, but he’ll force his way into the defensive rotation this year and could overtake Patrick Chung by seasons end.

27. Logan Ryan (24), CB: It’s time for Ryan to take the next step in his development and there is a lot riding on him. If everything goes to plan he’ll start alongside Malcolm Butler for most of the season. He showed signs of brilliance as a rookie, but took a backseat to the stars in last year’s secondary. He’s a bit of a wildcard heading into this season and no one is certain how good he is/isn’t just yet. Ryan will be one of the five cornerbacks on the 53-man roster, but the Patriots need him to be more than just a depth guy.

26. Patrick Chung (27), SAF: Rejuvenated his career last season as the Patriots were in a position to allow Chung to play to his strengths. As long as he’s allowed to continue to do that this year he’ll be fine. If he forced back into Cover-2 and playing in the deep third he’ll struggle. The Patriots signed him to a multiyear extension before free agency even started, so he’s definitely in the plans.

25. Scott Chandler (30), TE: Another under the radar signing from the off-season that should really help the offense, especially in the Red Zone. Chandler adds another massive target that can work the seam and occupy coverage in tight spaces. He also gives Tom Brady another reliable “check down” or “Safety valve” on 3rd Down. He’ll help take pressure off of Rob Gronkowski, which was desperately needed and the Patriots won’t have to face him twice a year in Buffalo. Chandler will catch his share of touchdown passes this year, that much looks apparent.

24. Marcus Cannon (27), OL: By resigning Cannon to a market level extension prior to the start of free agency, the Patriots made it clear he’s in the plans. While Sebastian Vollmer recovers from shoulder surgery Cannon will run with the ones at Right Tackle. As the swing tackle and someone that can play Offensive Guard if needed, he’s a valuable roster piece. Whether the contract was warranted and whether he can be trusted to play extended snaps each game is another conversation. I still think the Patriots have more plans for Cannon than “meet the eye” this eye.

23. Danny Amendola (29), WR: It appears everything finally came together for Amendola in the playoffs last year. There is no way the Patriots win the Super Bowl without him last season and he’ll look to build on that momentum heading into this season. He’s penciled in as the #3 WR behind Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell, but also adds value as a kick returner. Amendola’s value to the roster is probably even greater than some realize because if Edelman were to go down, he could step into that role and probably fill the void comfortably. He redid his deal to stay with the team this season and with a contract that is easily “cuttable” at the end of the year, he needs to have a big season to be on the roster in 2016.

Core Roster Players 

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (23), QB: Will play a crucial role this season regardless of how many games he starts for Tom Brady. Garoppolo hasn’t done much on the field to earn this high of a ranking, but his roster spot is as secure as any other player on the 53-man roster. When I do this article again next year, Garoppolo is either going to be a lot higher on the list or a lot lower. For the Patriots sake, let’s hope a lot higher.

21. Sealver Siliga (25), DT: This ranking might be a little optimistic, but I believe Siliga has emerged as a core member of the defense. He appears to be the next “Rob Ninkovich” or “Kyle Arrington”, meaning the player who is picked up off the streets after being cut and is slowly transformed into an impact player. Siliga continued to improve each week last season and with another good year, he could play himself into a nice contract. Siliga along with Malcom Brown and Dominique Easley should give the Patriots a young, talented, and disruptive DT trio for years to come.

20. LeGarrette Blount (28), RB: The best running back on the roster and clear cut lead back once week two rolls around. He brings physicality, toughness, and some sizzle to the Patriots running game. Bill Belichick clearly loves him and regretted not resigning him last season. A lot of people are worried about the RB position, but with Blount in place the running game should be just fine. If he stays healthy for all 15 games he’ll pile up the touchdowns and could break the 1,000 yard barrier.

19. Dominique Easley (23), DT: The ultimate wildcard heading into the season. When fully healthy he’s one of the most explosive and disruptive Defensive Tackles on the planet, so it’s about time he shows that. It’s very encouraging to see him back on the practice field and operating at full strength. It’s clear the Patriots have high high hopes for him and that’s why they’ve taken baby steps with his recovery. All Patriots fans should be excited to think about what the future could hold if both Easley and Brown reach their ceilings.

18. Jabaal Sheard (26), DE/LB: One of the biggest front seven signings of Bill Belichick’s tenure. The signing went well under the radar because it happened right around the time Darrelle Revis bolted for those perpetual losers in New York. Sheard is a good player who fits exceptionally well in the scheme. The Patriots liked him a lot coming out of Pittsburgh, Michael Lombardi has a long history with him in Cleveland, and he should be able to hit the ground running. Sheard gives the Patriots a third pass rusher, which takes the load off of Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones. Both players have worn down over the course of the last two seasons, so adding another pass rusher was critical. He’ll make an impact this season.

17. Brandon LaFell (28), WR: Beside Randy Moss, he’s the best WR signing of the Bill Belichick era. LaFell came up just shy of 1,o00 yards receiving despite posting goose eggs the first two games. He simply got better with each passing week and developed into someone Tom Brady trusted in big situations. Now in his second year with the Patriots, he’s a core member of the offense and someone a lot will be expected of. He’s currently on PUP as he recovers from foot surgery and his number one priority should be getting him ready for week one.

16. Malcom Brown (21), DT: Ryan Grigson’s latest and maybe greatest blunder was allowing Brown to slip right into the Patriots laps. Brown was a top 20 prospect and is already running with the starters. Brown can play both 1-Gap and 2-Gap techniques. He can occupy space or discard blockers to penetrate upfield. The Patriots got a gift when Vince Wilfork slipped to them in 2004 and they get another one in 2015. Brown will play as part of a rotation early on, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s a starter and anchor of the DL.

15. Malcolm Butler (25), CB: I’m really bullish on Malcolm Butler and so is the coaching staff. Forget his Super Bowl play for a second, from the minute Butler showed up as an UDFA it was clear he belonged on the field. The club is banking on Butler taking a massive jump from a depth contributor to starting cornerback. If the first few days of camp are any indication, it certainly sounds like Butler is taking the challenge in stride. He’s another player that could be a lot higher on this list next season.

Potential Pro-Bowl Players 

14. Matthew Slater (29), ST: Perennial Pro Bowl player and one of the unquestioned leaders of the team. Slater means more to the team than most people realize. He’s one of Bill Belichick’s all-time favorite players and is likely to be a part of the team as long as he wants to be.

13. Bryan Stork (24), OC: Stork has quickly emerged as a core member of the team and a future stalwart on the Offensive Line. Stork added stability and consistency to the offensive line when it was in shambles last season. He returned from injury to play in the Super Bowl and really help hold that group together against a great defensive front. Stork is gifted with a tremendous work ethic, the toughness, and mental capacity to be the leader of the offensive line for the next few seasons.

12. Sebastian Vollmer (31), OT: He was the most consistent Patriots Lineman from start to finish last season. Vollmer is now 31 years old and with the way his contract is structured he could be entering his final season as a Patriot. When fully healthy he’s one of the best Right Tackles in football and someone the Patriots can’t afford to play without right now. Even with Marcus Cannon resigned and able to play Right Tackle the Patriots really need Vollmer on the roster. If Nate Solder were to go down there isn’t anyone on this team outside of Vollmer that the coaching staff could trust on the Left Side. So, while a trade is always possible when we’re talking about Bill Belichick, it’d be a very risky move.

11. Jerod Mayo (29), LB: After injuries ended his last two seasons after six weeks his standing on the roster has changed. He was forced to take a sizable pay-cut and no longer finds himself as the most talented LB on the roster. Adding Mayo to a LB corps that consists of Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower is a tantalizing proposition for the Patriots. Mayo is a very good run defender and an exceptional leader in the huddle. It remains to be seen just how much the injuries slowed him down or if he can regain his previously level of play. What is clear is that Mayo is one of Belichick’s favorite players and compares his intangibles to those of Tedy Bruschi. His return will only help an already deep front seven.

10. Rob Ninkovich (31), DE: Steady, reliable, and consistent. Ninkovich’s spot on the roster is etched in stone and the Patriots know they can rely on him each week. After playing over 1,000 snaps again last year, his workload will be lightened with the addition of Jabaal Sheard. The ability to play in a three man rotation should help keep his legs fresh and make him a more consistent pass rusher over the last part of the season.

9. Nate Solder (27), OT: This is a massive year for Nate Solder who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He took his fair share of shit last season, but when the games got bigger his play got better. Left Tackles like Solder don’t grow on trees, so it’d behoove the Patriots to lock him up to a long term contract sooner rather than later. If the Patriots were serious about letting Solder go or replacing him they would have drafted another tackle early in the draft (like they did with Solder in 2011 to replace Matt Light in 2012). The fact there is no replacement anywhere in sight tells me he’s in their plans for a long time. He’s one of the most important players on the team because there is simply no replacement for him on the roster.

8. Stephen Gostkowski (31), K: The best kicker in the league over the last two seasons. Gostkowski just got locked up with a long term deal and could hold several league scoring records when that contract is up. Gostkowski has shown himself to be one of the most accurate kickers in league history, while also controlling field position with an elite kickoff leg. He’s simply one of the best players on the entire team, much the same way Adam Vinatieri was from 2001-2004.

7. Julian Edelman (29), WR: Developed into a #1 WR and has earned all of Tom Brady’s trust. One of the best punt returners of all time, Edelman is also fearless on the football field. His quickness and change of direction is nearly unmatched, making him incredibly tough to cover. If the Patriots are going to get back to the Super Bowl, they’ll need Edelman to replicate his performances of the past few seasons.

6. Chandler Jones (25), DE: The best pass rusher on the team and he’s still just scratching the surface of his potential. Chandler Jones is an integral member both in the long and short term. Pass rushers that can consistently post double digit sacks are tough to come by and usually very expensive. I’d like to see Jones be a little more consistent off the edge and his ability to finish more sacks this season. The Patriots have already picked up his 5th year option for 2016 and they’ll likely be working out a long term extension between now and then.

5. Dont’a Hightower (25), LB: The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft changed the trajectory of the Patriots defense and transformed the way that unit played. Adding two Pro Bowl caliber talents in the span of six picks is not only lucky, but was necessary. Hightower was by far the most improved player last season and still hasn’t reached his full potential. I remember listening to some media analysts talk about how they were disappointed with his training camp last summer. Fast forward 12 months and he’s now considered one of the best Linebackers in the NFL. It’s all a testament to Hightower who played through injury most of the year and ended up preserving the Super Bowl victory with his play on Marshawn Lynch at the goal line. Hightower, like Jones is in line for a big money extension after the season, and there is absolutely nothing that makes me think that won’t happen.

4. Jamie Collins (25), LB: Collins is the most exciting defender on the Patriots roster and a true freak of nature. Collins hasn’t even come close to maxing out his potential and should only get better the next few years as he fully transitions to Linebacker. His combination of speed, explosiveness, and range is highly uncommon in today’s game. He’s the type of “piece” you want to build your defense around for the next few seasons. Since Collins was drafted in the 2nd round, he’s not eligible for a 5th year on his rookie deal. That means the Patriots have a little more urgency to extend him after the conclusion of the season. As I said with Hightower and Jones, there is absolutely no reason not to get an extension done. The Patriots cap is structured in a manner that left money available for these three — and they’re going to get it. Teams don’t let players like Jamie Collins walk out the door.

3. Devin McCourty (27), SAF: After signing a lucrative, long-term contract Devin McCourty is now the unquestioned leader of the secondary. The transition to Free Safety is complete and it looks like a brilliant move, as McCourty has turned himself into an All-Pro caliber defender. There is no replacement for his skill-set on the roster and the drop-off from him to the next defender in line is massive. This season I expect him to play an even more prominent role in the defense and put himself in position to create more turnovers.

Franchise Players 

2. Rob Gronkowski (26), TE: The most dominating offensive weapon in the NFL today and the most dominate Tight End in the history of organized football. The last two seasons where Gronkowski was healthy through the AFC Championship Game the Patriots made the Super Bowl. In the one Super Bowl that Gronkowski was healthy, the Patriots won it. He truly is the difference between being a contender and a champion. Keeping him upright until the first week of February is undoubtedly the primary focus. In the meantime he’ll end up breaking the team touchdown record and obliterate the NFL record books.

1. Tom Brady (38), QB: Four Super Bowl Championships, Three Super Bowl MVPs, what else is there to say… F*** Goodell.

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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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