2013 Patriots Roster Projection: Training Camp Ahead

Rob Gronkowski’s injury issues have people looking at the Patriots roster in new ways.

NEPD Editor: James Christensen

The Patriots got richer during the 2013 NFL Draft, adding youth and talent to a roster that has made multiple deep playoff runs.

Starting later this week, training camp will play host to a brutal competition for the last few spots on the 53-man roster.

Who made the cut?

Quarterback (3): Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Tim Tebow

I originally had the Patriots only keeping two quarterbacks this year, but Tebow’s potential versatility gives Coach Belichick the opportunity to keep three. I say “potential versatility” because Tebow could be inactive for 19 games this year, or he could play in every single one.

Running Back (4): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Leon Washington, Brandon Bolden, LeGarrette Blount, George Winn

Ridley and Vereen have a bright future. Washington will play his role. I’d like to keep five running backs, but the numbers just didn’t work out. I decide to keep Bolden over Blount for his special teams ability. Winn is going to get some looks as well.

Wide Receiver (6): Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater, Michael Jenkins, Kenbrell Thompkins

Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson are going to need to contribute or Tom Brady is going to have his work cut out for him. I really wanted to keep Thompkins. That said, due to being an UDFA, he is going to have to out-perform a veteran like Michael Jenkins – who is currently slotted in as a starter – to make the team. Mark Harrison is another player you can’t count out, although starting the year on the NFI list doesn’t help.

Tight End (4): Rob Gronkowski, Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui, Zach Sudfeld, Daniel Fells

With the uncertainty around Rob Gronkowski and Jake Ballard’s health – both will start on the PUP List – I have to keep four tight ends here. I even thought about keeping five. In one of the hardest decisions, I kept Sudfeld over Fells for his pass-catching upside and team-friendly rookie contract. Don’t sleep on Brandon Ford either, both he and Sudfeld will get plenty of reps this July.

Offensive Tackle (3): Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Will Svitek, Markus Zusevics

This is a very good group of tackles with Solder and Vollmer. Svitek is very capable as the swing backup as well. I’d love to keep Zusevics, as he exhibited some talent at Iowa. If Gronkowski is deemed 100% and only three tight ends make the team, Zusevics could be the extra lineman. If not, the Patriots would love to see him on the practice squad.

Guard (3): Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Marcus Cannon, Josh Klein, Chris McDonald

If Cannon continues to develop and Mankins is healthy, this is another solid group. Klein and McDonald are two linemen that the Patriots would love to get on the practice squad. Klein especially has some tools as a swing backup and has an outside chance of making the roster.

Center (2): Ryan Wendell, Nick McDonald, Matt Stankiewitch

Wendell played very well in 2012 in my opinion. McDonald offers a decent backup option here as well, although he is starting the year on the PUP list.

Defensive Tackle (4): Vince Wilfork, Armond Armstead, Tommy Kelly, Marcus Forston, Anthony Reshad White, Cory Grissom

This is one of the few positions that I’d like to see some extra depth, especially with Armstead starting the year on the NFI list. Grissom, White and Forston are three promising UDFA’s that will battle it out for the fourth or perhaps fifth spot here. All would be coveted practice-squad players as well.

Defensive End (5): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Justin Francis, Michael Buchanan, Jake Bequette, Jason Vega, Jermaine Cunningham, Marcus Benard

This group is exciting. Ninkovich is an unheralded star. Jones and Francis had flashes of brilliance in 2012. Buchanan, Bequette and Vega all bring loads of promise, but I think only two of them make the team. If the Patriots move to more of a 3-4 look, I think Vega could also make the team at the expense of perhaps a tight end or wide receiver. Cunningham has been a disappointment and barring a spectacular pre-season, he might be on his way out. Benard is certainly a darkhorse to make the roster, he could surprise if healthy.

Linebacker (6): Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Steve Beauharnais, Dane Fletcher, Niko Koutovides, Mike Rivera, Jeff Tarpinian, AJ Edds

With Mayo, Spikes, Hightower and Collins, the Patriots are developing a solid young core or play-making linebackers. I have Beauharnais and Fletcher in at this point, but special teams are likely to play a huge part in determining who the last linebacker or two to make the team are.

Cornerback (5): Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Ras-I Dowling, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Marquice Cole

I get the Dowling criticism, but when he is on the field, he is the best corner in New England. If the rest of the crew stays healthy – and out of trouble – this might actually be a position of strength.

Safety (5): Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon, Adrian Wilson, Nate Ebner, Steve Gregory

This is an incredibly tough spot to predict after McCourty. Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon are almost certain locks to make the team due to their draft position, along with Wilson’s play as a rookie. Ebner is probably the least talented as a safety, but his cheap contract, youth and special teams play make him attractive. That leaves the two relatively high-priced veterans. Wilson, as a big nickel, brings something extra to the table that Gregory can’t, which ultimately leads me to giving him the undeserved axe.

Specialist (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Zoltan Mesko, Danny Aiken, Ryan Allen

Mesko will have all the competition he wants with Allen. This could go either way – especially with rookie contracts being so cheap – but ultimately I think Belichick sticks with the proven commodity.

IR: T.J. Moe

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9 Responses to “2013 Patriots Roster Projection: Training Camp Ahead”

  1. James says:

    I think you keep Gregory as McCourty insurance and try to sneak Beauharnais on the practice squad.

  2. CC says:

    Cunningham was a waste from the get-go.
    & Bequette better put on some Lbs!

  3. CC says:

    Gave a pick up for LGB, and not use him as very capable in a cpl areas. ….BBolden-young yes; but consistent with injury, and maybe moldable / maybe not. …….cough-cough…..NOT PROVEN.*just reminds me of more wasted time ala’ Price and Dowling…..?.?.?.? & other’s.
    Trade BBolden by the Trade-Deadline with whatever else will stick for either a pick or a better competent position filled,( preferably at DT/DE/andNinkovich).
    *Gregory “IS” a deserved ax IMO. Or trade in a package.

    & yes, Bring back the Original New Uniforms. Get rid of the Darker Blue

  4. JMC says:

    Hind-sight is always 20-20 and always as fun as I is meaningless- That said- Peter Kontz of the Falcons could be on the Patriots and they would still have drafted (safety) Wilson-

  5. azdude says:

    There is a lot of potential being cut to keep Tebow on the roster. DL is thin with 4 and there are plenty of stories out there about Kenbrell Thompkins and how he has looked so far. I say cut Tebow and if you need him later on, go get him. He probably wont be doing much of anything.

    • azdude says:

      Also, I dont see Marcus Benard on the list of making or being cut. He had 7.5 sacks 2 years ago before an injury.

  6. Henry Carmen says:

    Ninkovich is so overrated its not even funny. His best fit is at OLB, he gets no pass rush and gets manhandled on passing downs all the time. An example how sack numbers can be overrated. Michael Buchanan will be the starter next year after he puts on 15 pounds.

  7. kevan says:

    i agree carlo. pats could have had carlos dunlap too, that would have been a nice trio with ninko and jones. owell

  8. carlo strada says:

    Cunninghams has been until now a big ass bust, i used to be a supporter of him, but now entering Francis, buchanan and bequete, is time to move on. I base myself on that his edge presure sucks big time, and this year there are better options and bigger guys inside the tackles that can put whole lot better presure from inside, armstead and francis are IMO better interior rush presences than cunningham, so hes not worth of keeping

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