Patriots Roster Projection: Group of 53 Taking Shape

I think Chandler Jones is going to make the team. (USA Today Sports)

NEPD Editor: James Christensen

Two down, two to go.

With two preseason games remaining, the Patriots roster is starting to take shape. Here is my latest stab at the 53-man roster come week one versus the Buffalo Bills.

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

Tim Tebow has done little to warrant this roster spot, but I doubt that McDaniels and Belichick installed an entire shadow offense just to cut a guy a few weeks later.

Running Back (5): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Leon Washington, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, George Winn

This group will probably get cut down to four due to an injury sometime during the preseason, but each of the five players have had flashes in the first two games. If someone does get cut, I think it is Brandon Bolden – despite what he offers on special teams.

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

There is a lot of youth here, which is a good thing. This group is also markedly bigger than the receivers that Tom Brady has been throwing to over the last couple of years. If an injury occurs, Kamar Aiken would be the next guy in.

Tight End (3): Michael Hoomanawanui, Zach Sudfeld, Daniel Fells Jake Ballard

Even if he could be ready by week three, I’d like to put Rob Gronkowski on PUP to start the season. The Patriots want a healthy Gronk in week 20, not week 12. Daniel Fells and Jake Ballard could both be surprise cuts if the numbers game hits the TE position. I’m going with a chance that Ballard suffers a “setback” and gets placed on the short term IR.

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

Vollmer and Solder have the starting spots locked up. Marcus Cannon can play a little tackle and Svitek should have the swing position well in hand. Zusevics hasn’t looked NFL ready in practice and will be best suited to a year on the practice squad.

Guard (3): Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Marcus Cannon

Unless injuries continue to be a problem, these three guards will make the team. Another swing interior lineman is a possibility, but having Kline (C/G), Cannon (G/T) and Svitek (G/T) gives the plenty of flexibility.

Center (2): Ryan Wendell, Josh Kline

Wendell has this job sewn up. Josh Kline, with his ability to play all over the line, could be the guy to get the call as Wendell’s backup, although Stanky from Penn State is giving him a run for his money.

Defensive Tackle (3): Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Marcus Forston, Anthony Reshad White, Cory Grissom, Joe Vellano

This group scares me a bit, as I thought that Armond Armstead would be ready to provide some snaps. In his absence, Tommy Kelly has looked very impressive and Marcus Forston has had some flashes of potential. The three cuts here would all be good practice squad pickups. If the Patriots don’t expect Armstead to be available soon, they may need to keep four DT’s.

Defensive End (6): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Justin Francis, Michael Buchanan, Marcus Benard, Jermaine Cunningham, Jake Bequette

I hate to bring up the name Shawn Crable, but I’ve got to do it. I wasn’t a fan of the Bequette selection and he hasn’t lived up to his third round billing so far. He has had some streaks of brilliance, but his tackling and consistency just isn’t there. Jermaine Cunningham hasn’t been great himself, but his ability to come inside and rush from the DT position gives him the edge. Either Cunningham or Bequette isn’t making this team.

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

This linebacking corps has the potential to be a dominant force. If Collins continues to improve, he will join the triumvirate of 51, 54 and 55 in making plays for the Patriots. Dane Fletcher is a core special teams player and has proven that he can make a play at linebacker as well. I think Niko and Beauharnais are fighting it out for the last spot.

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

If Ras-I Dowling doesn’t get his head on and out of the training room, Marquice Cole is going to make this team. The rest of this group has looked average to good during camp and preseason and shouldn’t be the sieve that is has been over the last few years.

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

This is a tough decision. Nate Ebner has potential and special teams value. Steve Gregory has experience and consistency, but also has a bigger contract. If the Wilsons and Harmon can step up, it might make Gregory expendable, but I’d like to keep him around – especially with McCourty still knicked up.

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

Mesko and Allen’s competition has been fierce all through camp, but I think Mesko eeks out a victory based on experience and holding. I will not listen to people calling for Gostkowski’s head after missing a couple of preseason field goals.

PUP / NFI: Rob Gronkowski, Armond Armstead

IR: T.J. Moe, Brandon Ford

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22 Responses to “Patriots Roster Projection: Group of 53 Taking Shape”

  1. Walter Back says:

    good point concerning system geared for Tebow. Also maybe they are concerned .with lack of progress with Mallett. He looks like another Kyle Orton to me. Yeah he may look good in practice but that ain’t real life in the nfl. Mallett has a glass jaw and a fragile psyche.

  2. hdh says:

    Jake Ballard definitely staying, M Cole, & C Grissom. J Kline, J Cunningham & either Hoom or Fells at TE are gone.

  3. Trevor M. says:

    I have to say that I am extremely disappointed in Armstead. I hope when (if?) he returns that he can be a difference maker out there.

    He has to motivated right? He goes to CFL and performs well, gets his chance in the NFL after that heart-condition scare and now he is out due to a freaking infection. Geeze!

  4. JMC says:

    I think your right about 5 RBs- and Gronk on the PUP to start which I think will work best- I think Fells is a bad cut- He seems faster and a better blocker than Hooman’- Dowling may get cut- Interesting to see what the wavier wire of FAs holds- esp on defense- I wonder if the Patriots will go after Richard Marshall-

    • JMC says:

      I like Tebow but he hasn’t earned a spot- I think he should get cut-

    • steve earle says:

      As for Downing I had to blink twice whan he was drafted to begin with. Just can’t see him taking up bench space for yet another season. All kinds of possabilitys on the wavers this year I think given the depth of the draft. Like to think another DT might be around just in case.

  5. Trev says:

    Ballard over Tebow is a no-brainer to me, but something tells me that you are right. Belichick didn’t incorporate a new set of plays just to cut the guy that runs them. I hate that Tebow might make this team, but I’m betting he will.

  6. AM says:

    Ballard has been the top blocking TE in 2-TE sets; I’d be surprised if he missed the cut. I think it’s more likely that Fells and Hoomanawanui are fighting for one spot between them. I’d opt for Zusevics over Kline, especially as the former has shown some versatility at OG. Connolly can act as Wendell’s backup. I wonder if Cunningham is destined for IR, long-term or short-term; if not, he may be a cut in favor of a waiver-wire pickup at DT. And I’m still not convinced that Tebow makes the team, unless he shows more special teams ability.

  7. Rob says:

    I think Ballard sticks, as does Zusevics. Not so sure about Kline and they have to have a 4th D-lineman. Did anyone see that 4th quarter against Tampa Bay? Tim Tebow is not an NFL qb. I think Belichek puts the locker room at risk keeping a guy who can’t play.

  8. azdude says:

    I dont think they are cutting Ebner and Bequette in year 2. Bequette has definitely disappointed to this point but I think he has potential. I also think they keep Grissom on the roster. My cuts to have these 3 stay would be be Tebow, Kline and Cunningham.

    • steve earle says:

      Ebner and Bequette were mistakes. If they haven’t shown inprovement by now then it’s time to correct those mistakes. Both have been injury free so no excuse to keep them around.

      • carlo strada says:

        Another big mistake: tavon wilson

      • AM says:

        Ebner played well last year in his role, which was special teams-only. He would play well in that role again this year, but he loses the numbers game–between Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon, and possibly Brandon Bolden, there are just too many players on the team who can contribute on special teams while also possibly contributing in other areas (and that’s not including Matthew Slater). As a sixth-round pick, he has done just fine, and if cut, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rotate through again at some point in the future.

  9. Breazy says:

    It’s looking like a talented group. I’m especially excited that the Linebacking corps looks ready to take it to the next level, although I suspect much of how we judge elite will include how they deal with covering TEs…which seems mostly to be about Collins and Fletcher.

    I like that the WR are getting younger and taller. I hope they can handle the intricacies of the options.

    I’m still worried about the CBs. They haven’t gotten taller, and the best receivers they will face keep getting taller.

  10. Kyle says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Armstead start the season on PUP since he hasn’t been able to practice this Spring. A late start will help hm get caught up with his teammates.

  11. nigga says:

    Really hope this is the way it turns out, w/o injuries i would cut tebow and gregory for gronk and armstead

  12. Coach says:

    Looks good.. Hopefully Armstead can get that same push in the pocket like Kelly does. If that production is constant this D would be real good.

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