Patriot Roster Prediction Part I

NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler

 

It’s May, the Patriots roster isn’t close to being set but a lot of the pieces are here. Assuming we don’t have any major injuries (Knock on wood, this is New England)  we have a good idea of what it’ll look like. This is my first attempt at constructing a 53 man roster so I expect it’ll be identical to the real one.

Offense – 25

QB Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer (2)

No surprise here. There was some benefit to the Etling pick, I guess, but him being on the team isn’t one of them. He’s a good camp body/arm to have I suppose, but I have a very hard time seeing him on the 53. We’re stuck with Brady, who clearly doesn’t love the game anymore.

RBSony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Brandon Bolden, James Develin (FB) (5)

I wrote about RB’s a few weeks ago & mentioned how they were taking over & as usual Belichick is ahead of the curve. Defense are adjusting to a league going full vertical via Air Raid/Spread by countering with Nickel/Dime defense’s. Bill understands you can pass just as much, be just as diverse & productive out of 2 back sets. Per Sharp’s data The Patriots used 21 personnel (2RB, 2WR, 1TE)  2nd most in the league & on offense last year. And had a 60% success rate, the best out of all our groupings. Also Lewis, Burkhead & White were all top 7 targets last year & I expect that number to rise this year. Expect to see some pairing of Michel, Burkhead & White on the field almost at all times.

WRJulian Edelman, Jordan Matthews, Chris Hogan, Matt Slater, Braxton Berrios , Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson (7)

Mitchell should start the pup list but is in real danger of losing a spot if Dorsett or Britt has a summer to remember imo. Their the wildcards here that will really make this battle fierce. Edelman, Hogan & Slater (special teams) are locks. Patterson isn’t a lock but I don’t see him not making the team. Bill traded for him very recently & wants to upgrade the return game. Patterson has fallen short of expectations as a wr when drafted, hey it’s not his fault NFL GM’s don’t know what their doing part of the time. He’s an elite return man & since entering the league he’s almost 1,800 yards ahead of the #2 man & leading other categories as well. Berrios will handle punts & is also the perfect player to fill in for Edelman if need be or if we want to lighten his workload a bit.

Tight EndRob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen (2)

Not much to say here. Gronk is the goat & hopefully will retire a Patriot. I really looking forward to him doing local Boston T.V. commercials for decades. In all seriousness he’s what the league & Patriots should be celebrating.

TackleMarcus Cannon, Isaiah Wynn, Trent Brown, LaAdrian Waddle (4)

Very happy to hear Scar & co are looking at Wynn for the Tackle spot. Isaiah was the top 6 overall player on my board so I’m still on cloud-9 seeing him in a Patriots uniform. He has everything it takes to a great player in this league at T or G. No surprises except Waddle for some. With the Garcia cut I think the hope is we’ll have Cannon & Brown on the right. And Wynn, Waddle on the left.

GuardShaq Mason, Joe Thuney,  Ted Karras, Cole Croston (4)

Shaq is a top 6-7 G in the league & Thuney has been + player since we drafted him. For the other 2 spots I think the versatility of  Karras  (C/G) & Croston (G/T) win out.

CenterDavid Andrews(1)

Andrews is related to Dan Reeves. Did you know that? Andrews just shows up & gets it done every game. Undersized every snap but bloody tough & more importantly smart. Andrews is always barking out info at the line such as who’s about to blitz & a million other things that help make our system QB look good.

 

It’s easy every year to get excited about the Patriots offense. We’ve seen innovation & versatility stretched to each of their limits & this year is no different. The Patriots will be once again ahead of the league in exploiting defenses, this time with 2 back sets in 21 personnel. Think about defending that & how you would deploy your defenders? The Pats are going to force you to take your best coverage S’s/LB’s out of the box when we spilt Gronk out wide & 1 of Sony/Rex in the slot. We’ll still be able to run the ball & have 1 0n 1’s outside for Brady to exploit (If he’s still even playing football??). The real excitement is this offensive line. We’re bringing back 4 experienced, good-very good starters & adding a stud 1st round pick to the mix. If this team, side of the ball, stays healthy they could be setting records once again.

 

 

Defense – 25

Defensive EndTrey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Adrian Clayborn, Derek Rivers (4)

For those of you that don’t know, I’m a huge Derek Rivers fan (long before he was drafted by us) & think his addition & health can’t be understated. Rivers is that a nuanced pass rusher screaming around the edge some fans have wanted for a long time. He has a great burst & bend. Plays with high/active hands & can finish. Rivers can really run the arc & should help out our pass rush. Last year I had dreams of him & Flowers terrorizing QB’s together. Hopefully that comes into fruition this year. He could also see some time at LB, as he checks the boxes we like there. I’m very happy & excited about this group as a whole, health permitting. If that happens this is a dead issue.

LinebackerDont’a Hightower, Marquis Flowers, Christian Sam, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Kyle Van Noy (5)

This position has caused lot’s of discussions as of late but the Patriots did address the situation. Maybe not to some fans likings but it was it noted in the F.O. We really need 54 healthy, that’s what the “position”comes down to for us. Teams are adding Safety’s & Corners in the game, while taking off LB’s who in some cases are 1 down players nowadays. Truth is if Hightower is right we’re in great shape. I think Bentley & Sam both make the roster & with specific intentions in their roles. Sam, off the ball, replacing Roberts, covering TE’s in the shallow zone, playing clean-up in the run game. Bentley is interesting & obviously more in the Hightower mold. He’s going to be playing closer to the l.o.s. & would give us the ability to rush Hightower & possibly Rivers from the edges if we wanted to (Sorry I can’t help myself). Like Malcolm Mitchell, I’m not putting Langi on the 53 until we see something on the field that warrants it. Really like the player & I know the Pats do, they’ve scouted Langi for years in college. Hopefully he’s healthy enough at some point to see some action.

 

Cornerback – Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Keion Crossen (6)

I’m liking this group a lot. We have Gilmore & Rowe to match-up how we see fit but also added a lot of toughness in McCourty, Dawson & Crossen. Crossen was on my & a few other patriot fans radars before the draft. Tough, both physically & mentally. Noted Tom Brady when asked about being overlooked before the draft. This is a guy you can’t help but root for. Think a more fluid Jon Jones, who I’ve always liked as well. Undersized like JJ, but Crossen, can hold his own against certain receivers outside because of his speed, agility & explosion. He’s a tough corner that plays with no fear in run support. I really like the pick & player.

 

Safety – Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Brandon King (ST),  Jordan Richards(ST), Nate Ebner(S) (6)

A bit thin at first glance but consider Dawson has played significant snaps at Safety & this was noted by Caserio when asked about the selection. The Safety group is as good as it gets in the league in terms of experience, production & big game experience. When you consider the secondary as a whole it looks very good on paper & should just need to gel.

 

Defensive Tackle – Malcolm Brown, Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler (4)

Shelton’s play should give us what we missed in Branch last year. That big, impossible to move force in the middle. Cleveland (shockingly) over-drafted Shelton & at times asked him to do something he wasn’t comfortable or able to do, to be blunt. By asking the 340+lb player to play a more attacking, penetrating role. He won’t doing that here & will have a very clear, defined role as the teams only true NT. This looks like a nice rotation though. All versatile, multiple players you can move around a bit.

 

 

I know defense was on the minds of many fans this off-season. The Patriots didn’t make any flashy moves but addressed the DL, LB & CB positions through the draft & F.A. Whether you agree with the moves or not, I actually think we’re looking very good, changes were made. Like almost any Patriots team during this era health is the most important factor. If this defense stays healthy it will be very good. We added/getting back some pass rush, got tougher in the secondary & are getting a top 45 player back in Hightower. When it comes to the defense I’m here for the Hightower, Rivers, Flowers, Wise NASCAR looks.

 

Special Teams – Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Joe Cardona (LS)

 

 

24 Responses to “Patriot Roster Prediction Part I”

  1. islerba says:

    I really really get uncomfortable when 54 plays on the edge instead of his usual position out of necessity. Let him stay where is the strongest at & find another capable option to play the edge. (blitzes excluded of course).
    Also, I think giving a roster spot to 37 is no better than giving a chance to one of the guys in practice squad. At worst he can give up +50 yard plays in most critical moments (no different than 37).

    • kevinz says:

      How about JC jackson? is there a chance he makes team i might have missed him being waived already. Love the edge he plays with think could play cb slot as well as a saf in a Pinch

      • steve earle says:

        Jackson was rated as a 1st rd talent before off field problems knocked him out. It’s only himself who can keep him from making this team imo. By that I mean attitude. Has he grown a sense of responsibility and maturity?

        • kevinz says:

          Well that is the hope steve lol but your right if he keeps nose clean he should make this team.
          It is a big if though without knowing if he is changed just hopeful he is could be quite the steal.

  2. stanley matthews says:

    Good job. Some good comments. Maybe Niklas, definite no on Richards. I like spending money on Eric Reid. If not, Travers or Jones might make the jump. Don’t agree with the comment on Tye over Develin.

    • steve earle says:

      I agree with all but need for Reed to be brought in. We have some very good young guys for the position and plenty of veterans too. Reed would only take time away from the development of the younger kids. If we should get a rash of injuries the situation could change but much to early now.

  3. adam jacek says:

    great

  4. Brian says:

    I want to get excited about Derek Rivers, but I just don’t know where he fits. He’s a 250lb college DE that will obviously be too light to set the edge. And is coming off a torn ACL without much experience playing off the ball or in coverage.
    I’m excited to see where he plays but think we need to temper our expectations for him.

    • steve earle says:

      I hear what your saying Brian and as I recall last year before he got hurt he was working at OLB at least on the two days I was at camp that’s how it appeared to me. Unless he put on a lot of muscle this winter he probably will be a pass rusher I’m guessing.

  5. Russell says:

    Hard to see TE Allen staying around from a cost stand point. I think QB Etling makes the roster, his improvement in preseason will be key. The Patriots drafted him knowing his issues were fixable, his knowledge was there to learn, and the tools he has. Brady, and Hoyer are old, so it seems BB will carry a third QB, but whether he’s with the team in 2019, depends on many factors.

    • steve earle says:

      Agree about Allen but Etling is another thing. Your making a leap of faith before he as a body of NFL work to judge by. Let us at least get half way through camp this summer before making any judgement’s.

  6. @j_fid says:

    Niklas, Tye, Jones & others will prob show up at some point when I do another one of these.

    Tbh It’s May & experience > potential when it hasn’t been proven on the field yet.

    In regards to Ricahrds, King etc & the st’s guys. Its very easy for us to scratch off a name but who’s replacing them? Bill has never treated/put O or D above ST’s imo. Just something you have to account for when doing this.

    Overall probably 4-6 spots that are really up for grabs so it’ll be another intense summer. If healthy this is another SB team.

  7. Ray Foley says:

    Please…..Anybody but Jordan Richards.Super Bowl performance was the last straw.

    • @j_fid says:

      Can I be honest for a second? Imma just troll Jordan Richards name out there to piss off certain fans lol.

  8. STEVEN B says:

    I really like most of this roster…with these changes…
    OFFENSE:
    QB-A better back up than Hoyer not on roster..yet.
    TE-Niklas over Allen..I truly believe there is some untapped potential there.
    FB/TE-Will Tye over Devlin. More speed n athleticism..imagine coming out of backfield…can he block?
    Defence:
    CB-Love the 6, cause 2 can play safety
    S-Because what i said above…please release Richards 🙂 and one of the S/T guys.. n bring in David Jones (i think he is the future behind Mccoutney)…and add DE Kiontte Davis…yes the suprise future starter..

    • @j_fid says:

      I think we’re only keeping 2 QB’s & this is def gona be an issue for some after trading Jimmy. If Brady goes down theres nothing Etling or another back up could do that Hoyer can’t. Hoyer is the best back-up option we have & part of the reason we went w/ SF rather another team.

      Niklas was my 2nd choice after Allen & he def has a good chance to beat him out. I think we only carry 2 TE’s though.

      Tye was #2 to Dev

      Fan of Jones & wouldn’t be opposed to it.

    • steve earle says:

      Believe you could be right that Niklas could beat out Allen for the #2 TE spot unless Allan takes a major pay cut which is questionable. Other then that your thinking looks reasonable and could happen.

  9. TommyG says:

    The only thing I don’t agree with is Dwayne Allen over Troy Niklas. I think everyone is sleeping on Niklas and I get the fact he hasn’t produced yet. But Arizona did not have a good Quarterback and they don’t really emphasize TE in their offense. He has a lot of untapped potential with him coming out of ND.

    • GM-In-Training says:

      I’m torn on Dwayne Allen vs Troy Niklas.

      On paper, Niklas should be the better blocker and Allen should be the better receiver.

      Niklas is 3″ taller, 15# heavier, has arms 34.12″ arms (1&1/8″ longer), and they both benched 27 reps.

      Allen had a 7.12 3-cone vs Niklas’ 7.57. Allen had a 4.89 40-dash, and Niklas wasn’t timed because he was coming off hernia surgery.

      Allen and Niklas had very similar stats last year as #2 TE, but Allen is the superior blocker today, according to http://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/273236/troy-niklas-is-more-than-a-blocking-tight-end-for-the-patriots .

      Niklas would be $4M cheaper, though. Ryan Izzo would be $4.4M cheaper than Allen.

      So close.

      Semi-unlrelated thought: Is it just me, or does Will Tye have the perfect traits to be a super-fast OLB? 6’2″, 257#, 4.57 40-dash…seems like an intriguing backup if he can play TE/LB/ST. I wonder if they get creative this offseason.

      • steve earle says:

        I have to believe Allen is in a prove it summer with the Pat’s. His contract just doesn’t fit with his lack of production last year. Unless he agrees to restructure it’s a mill stone around his neck. Niklas isn’t much different but it’s a question of staying healthy in his case. If he can do that and otherwise simply match Allen block for block reception for reception I’d expect Troy to get the nod. Only wild card is will Bill look for a deal for another TE?

  10. GM-In-Training says:

    I accidentally posted this yesterday on a much older thread. Reposting.

    The Eagles just released Mychal Kendricks LB to free up cap space.
    1. He’s 6’0″, 239#, ran a 4.54 40 out of college and a 6.68 3-Cone. He’s 27. He’s had good seasons and not-so-good seasons. There’s been some question about if they knew how to use him when Jim Schwartz came on as Defensive Coordinator.
    2. His last contract was big, but given the timing, maybe his next one will be a one-year prove it, or a win-now discount? Philly saved $4.4 Million by dropping him, but they’re taking a $3.2M dead money hit in the process. They were down to their last $100K of cap space, so they had to do something.
    3. I don’t know if he’s a cultural fit for the Pats. Some say he’s undisciplined. Some say he gets a bad wrap.
    4. His agent may have the Pats on speed dial, or he may just go looking for teams that have the most cap space to get one more big deal. He had 77 tackles and 2 sacks last year, and did seem to show up in the playoffs.
    Is he the best we can do to bolster the LB corps’ ability to cover TE/RB? Maybe not. I’d really like somebody 6’3″ with long arms, but the same speed as Mychal Kendricks.

    Whaddya’ think?

  11. GM-In-Training says:

    Reposting to the current thread:

    How much would you pay for Eric Reid, Safety, formerly of the 49ers?

    He was a 1st rounder, starter for 5 years, the Niners picked up his 5th year option and he made ~$5 Million last year. He can play Free or Strong, in the box and even a little LB.

    He also has a case against the league for collusion, because he was vocal about kneeling for the National Anthem, and now he’s inexplicably a free agent.

    He deserves to be paid as a top-20-in-the-league safety, which according OverTheCap.com is probably at least $6M/year.

    The Pats need a better option at #3/#4 Safety. They have $13.5M in cap space, and will probably get a bit more when they redo Gronk, and possibly Brady…let alone some moves they could make on getting younger in some places. They have other uses for that money, too of course.

    So, how much would BB pay for 1 year of Eric Reid? It would be doing Reid a favor to give him a showcase. Reid has said he won’t kneel this year.
    Maybe $2M guaranteed, and a whole bunch of game day roster incentives bringing it up to
    $4.5M?

    If he was Safety #1 or even #2 I think it would be a no-brainer, but as #3/#4 I just don’t think the Pats value the position at that level.
    Thoughts?

    • @j_fid says:

      I think we’re all set w/ Kendricks given the draft picks, style fit etc

      Would kick the tires on Reid under certain terms.

      I answered those on the other page in more detail.

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