2014 Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Calm Before the Storm

A third-round draft selection in 2013, Duron Harmon is now running for a starting job in New England’s secondary. (Photo: Oliver Thomas)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

With organized team activities and mandatory minicamp all wrapped up, it’s officially summer for the New England Patriots. But come July 24, the rest and relaxation will be over for the 90-man roster.

It is then that training camp on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium will commence. It is then that the competition for roster spots will be heightened to a level far exceeding offseason workouts. It is then that head coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio and staff will start the clock.

Time will be of the essence.

By 4 p.m. on Aug. 27, the organization’s brass will have to whittle the roster to 75 players. And by 6 p.m. on Aug. 31, they’ll have to cut it down to 53.

Additions and subtractions, as well as joint practices and preseason games will transpire between now and then. Yet as we enter the June calm before the July storm, here is a 53-man roster forecast.

Quarterback (3)Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo

Cuts – None

New England’s quarterback position is in good standing behind Tom Brady, and the return of fourth-year backup Ryan Mallett affords rookie second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo a chance to acclimate to the NFL level from the FCS level. While Mallett and Garoppolo are two very different kinds of QBs – one a strong-armed pocket passer, the other an accurate maneuverer – both could solidify the present and future of the organization under center.

Running Back (4)Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White, Brandon Bolden

Cuts – Roy Finch, Stephen Houston, Jonas Gray

While there are concerns – whether it is ball security or health – there has been a symbiotic relationship between the physical, slashing running style of Stevan Ridley and the change-of-pace, receiving impact of Shane Vereen. Both 2011 draft choices are in line to head the running back committee in 2014, but there are reinforcements. Fourth-round pick James White is a small, strong and elusive runner with tremendous vision, while Brandon Bolden is more of a between-the-tackles rusher with respectable hands and special teams experience. Due to their well-versed capabilities on the back end, it will be tough for first-year player Jonas Gray, as well as undrafted acquisitions Roy Finch and Stephen Houston to crack the team. Even so, the rookie collection behind White carries some diversity.

Tight End (3)Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, James Develin

Cuts – D.J. Williams, Justin Jones, Asa Watson

Under this scenario, Rob Gronkowski is on the active roster Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, just nine months after tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee. And if that were the case, the tight end depth chart might delve just two deep – in some sense. Behind Gronkowski and re-signed utility man Michael Hoomanawanui, there’s fullback James Develin. As a special-teamer, a blocking back in “21” personnel, and a third tight end in jumbo sets, the well-traveled Brown product has had to do more than job title before. That versatility could very well save the Patriots a roster spot once again. Now, a veteran acquisition could change the complexion of the position, but it looks like a heavy dose of three-receiver sets are in the offense’s future. D.J. Williams, Justin Jones and Asa Watson are vying to change that.

Wide Receiver (7) Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater

Cuts – Jeremy Gallon, Reese Wiggins, Wilson Van Hooser, Jeremy Johnson

New England’s wide receiving corps retooled last year, drafting Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce while also catching a boost from undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins. The young collection that had its share of growing pains behind the 100-catch, 1,000-yard emergence of Julian Edelman, yet now it has continuity. Adding Brandon LaFell into the mix adds some height and inside-out flexibility, while drafting 5’7” Michigan wideout Jeremy Gallon adds insurance and strong hands to the slot. In result, the number of capable players outweighs the number of roster spots. But regardless of what position is next to his name, Matthew Slater – who’s played 209 offensive snaps in his NFL career – is considered a lock for his expertise on special teams.

Center (2) Ryan Wendell, Bryan Stork

Cuts – Braxston Cave

Though his performance declined after a quality 2012 campaign, Ryan Wendell re-signed with the Patriots this offseason. The 2008 undrafted signee seems to have company at center, though; it comes in the form of Florida State fourth-round pick Bryan Stork, guard Dan Connolly and former practice-squadder Braxston Cave. Currently, Wendell gets the edge and Stork gets an opportunity as a mid-round draft investment.

Guard (4) Logan Mankins, Marcus Cannon, Jon Halapio, Josh Kline

Cuts – Dan Connolly, Chris Barker, Chris Martin

A fifth-round selection out of Texas Christian in 2011, Marcus Cannon has proven to be serviceable to the Patriots at both right guard and right tackle. He’s started only seven of his 37 NFL regular-season games, but the 6’5”, 335-pounder is more than capable of securing a full-time gig on the line. Promoting the 26-year-old Cannon would come at the expense of the 31-year-old Connolly, whose three-year, $9.75 million pact expires in 2015, according to Spotrac.com. At this time, it could make sense; Florida sixth-round rookie Jon Halapio and returning Kent State product Josh Kline are also in the wings. Kline and five-time All-Pro Logan Mankins worked in tandem on the left side late last season.

Offensive Tackle (3) Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Cameron Fleming

Cuts Jordan Devey

Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer are entrenched as New England’s starting bookends. After them, Stanford fourth-rounder Cameron Fleming is on deck as a swing tackle, providing Cannon a chance to kick inside to guard. And if need be, Mankins can also filter back to his collegiate position as he did in 2013. Jordan Devey – who was on the practice squad last season – will be striving to prove he’s not a redundancy.

Defensive Tackle (5) Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Dominique Easley, Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones

CutsJoe Vellano, Marcus Forston, Armond Armstead, Seali’i Epenesa, L.T. Tuipulotu

New England’s unproven defensive tackles were thrown into the fire when Vince Wilfork and Tommy landed on injured reserve last season. But now that the two vets are back for what will be their 11th year, the trees have grown up around them. Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones, Joe Vellano and Marcus Forston all gained valuable experience from the attrition, and all have a shot to make an impact because of it in 2014. Yet with Florida first-round pick Dominique Easley rushing his way into the mix, the snaps will be hard to come by. It’s early, but Vellano, Forston and the enigmatic Armond Armstead are firmly on the bubble.

Defensive End (4) Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Michael Buchanan, Will Smith

CutsZach Moore, Jake Bequette

The Patriots often played just three defensive ends in 2013, and that gave way to Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich leading all 4-3 defensive ends in snaps. Rookie seventh-rounder Michael Buchanan earned a role as a nickel rusher early in the year before Andre Carter was brought back, but they finished a distant third and fourth at the position. Yet now, the 35-year-old Carter is a free agent and Buchanan has competition from longtime New Orleans Saints right end Will Smith and Concordia-St. Paul sixth-rounder Zach Moore. Moore could certainly make a run at spot, though the interchangeability along the interior could crunch the outside depth. Both he and 2012 third-round pick Jake Bequette – who played 14 snaps last season, per Pro Football Focus – are on the fringe.

Linebacker (5) Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, James Anderson, Steve Beauharnais

CutsChris White, Ja’Gared Davis, Cameron Gordon, Josh Hull, Deontae Skinner, Darius Fleming, Taylor McCuller

With the departure of Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher via free agency, the Patriots are hoping 2013 second-rounder Jamie Collins can pick up where his postseason left off. Aiding his development is a healthy Jerod Mayo and a comfortable Dont’a Hightower, who will assemble alongside him in New England’s base defense. On the other hand, in the sub-package defense and on special teams, eight-year vet James Anderson and former seventh-rounder Steve Beauharnais provide some food for thought. If the Patriots decide to keep the aforementioned five, that would likely leave special-teamer Chris White and practice-squad promotion Ja’Gared Davis on the outside looking in. Cameron Gordon, Josh Hull, Deontae Skinner, Darius Fleming and Taylor McCuller will also need strong training camps.

Safety (5) Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Jemea Thomas, Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner

CutsTavon Wilson, Kanorris Davis, Shamiel Gary

With the Patriots sporting primarily two deep safeties in 2013, the line between free and strong safety was a thin one. Look for a similar arrangement in 2014, particularly with the ascending Devin McCourty and second-year pro Duron Harmon manning the back end. Sixth-round Georgia Tech product Jemea Thomas – who has experience at cornerback, nickelback and safety – and the reunited Patrick Chung are also in the mix. And if the organization opts to keep a fifth safety, it’s likely between special-teamer Nate Ebner, 2012 second-round pick Tavon Wilson and former Troy linebacker Kanorris Davis.

Cornerback (5) Darrelle Revis, Logan Ryan, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Daxton Swanson

Suspended – Brandon Browner

CutsJustin Green, Travis Hawkins, Malcolm Butler

Though it may be an oversimplification, the Patriots were able to improve all areas of the defense with one signing this offseason. The presence of Darrelle Revis should not only make New England’s safety play better, it should have a ripple effect in linebacker zone drops, pass rush, and elsewhere at the cornerback position. It is there that Logan Ryan, Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington are looking to make an impact both outside and in. And with the 6’4”, 221-pound Brandon Browner set to return from suspension after Week 4, there could be another name in the carousel until then. NESN.com’s Doug Kyed made note of former Sam Houston State standout Daxton Swanson, who turned in an impressive spring. If Swanson can continue to look the part this summer, second-year special-teamer Justin Green will have to stand apart.

Special Teams (3)Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Danny Aiken

CutsTyler Ott

The Patriots are playing cover-one at placekicker and punter with Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen. There is, however, a cover-two scheme going on at long snapper between third-year incumbent Danny Aiken and Harvard alum Tyler Ott. Ott also played tight end for the Crimson Tide, catching 15 passes for 188 yards and four touchdowns as a senior, but Aiken gets the nod for now.

The weather is subject to change.

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55 Responses to “2014 Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Calm Before the Storm”

  1. J H TARBORO says:

    Don’t sleep on these 3 CBs in camp Jenea Thomas,Travis Hawkins,Malcolm Butler.

    • MaineMan says:

      Butler (5096/187, West Alabama) doesn’t appear to be exceptional athletically. Apparently, he’s a very good tackler, though – 94 TT, 76 solo his last two college seasons. He had 2 INTs (one TD) and 16 PDs as a senior; 5 INTs, 9 PDs as a junior. He’s also an experienced returner – avg 27.9 yds on 13 KRs as a senior; had a 100-yd KR TD his junior season and returned 11 others for 257 yds total. He also avg’d 15 yds on four PRs his junior season.

      Hawkins (5095/192, Delaware) posted some outstanding drill numbers at his pro day:
      4.37/40 – 1.48/10yd – 128″ broad jump – 6.80 3-cone

      Hawkins immediately became a starter as a soph transfer from Maryland, posting 52 TT/41 solo, 4 INTs/9 PDs, and avg’d 27.6 yds on 18 KRs including an 86-yd TD.

      As a junior (2012), he posted 50 TT/36 solo, 3 PDs and a 21.3-yd avg on 12 KRs.

      Last season, he posted 66 TT, 4 INT/8 PD, and avg’d 27.4 yds on KRs, including a 97-yd TD.

      • Kevan says:

        Yea those are elite numbers for Hawkins. Really impressive. I’ll be interested to see what he does in training camp.

      • J H TARBORO says:

        Camp is almost here let’s wait and see, anything can happen!

  2. Chris says:

    Tavon Wilson was not going to be drafted by anyone for the next several rounds. Sixth would have been the earliest. He was a hybrid with three years’ starting experience and a grand total of two or three INTs. Very little of a difference maker. Terrible, terrible pick. Watch how poorly he swivels his hips. Even rudimentary scouting would have picked that up, but Bill was too keen on thumbing his nose on the Combine makers.

    This urban legend that other teams were going to take him is just that. Legendary.

    Zach Moore could show more potential than both Buchanan and Beguette. Both of them have yet to show much. Buchanan looks the part, but that’s about it. Underachiever at Illinois, which runs in the water there. Toughest cut will be Gallon, who is a play-maker, one of the only players for the Maize and Blue who showed up when they played ‘Bama a couple of years ago.

    I’d prefer Connolly at center over Wendell, regardless of their respective salaries.

    Chung makes the team? Really? Good luck staying healthy for that, Patrick.

    The toughest thing is Armond Armistead, that DT with the bevy of maladies. I would have loved to see him live up to his potential.

    We definitely need to keep six linebackers. So put Chris White back in. Take out Buchanan. I’d like to keep Gallon over Boldin.

  3. MaineMan says:

    Much has been made of James White’s receiving abilities, based on his college production, and about how having two RBs who can run AND catch could pose different problems for defenses and offset the Pats’ thinness at TE to some degree. Well, if two is good, four would probably be better (NO, not all at the same time, wiseguys!).

    So, here’s the college receiving production of the RBs currently on the roster:

    Bolden: 76/807, 6 TDs – 4 yrs, Ole Miss.
    Vereen: 74/674, 6 TDs – 3 yrs, California.
    Houston: 65/658, 4 TDs – 3 yrs, Indiana.
    White: 62/582, 3 TDs – 3 yrs, Wisconsin (most of that in his last season).
    Finch:58/442, 2 TDs – 4 yrs, Oklahoma
    Gray: 13/114, 0 TDs – 4 yrs, Notre Dame
    Ridley: 17/94, 0 TDs – 3 yrs, LSU (all in his last two seasons at LSU; he had zero receptions as a freshman).

  4. J H TARBORO says:

    I hope during camp if they are cut from other rosters, we bring in FB JC Copeland from Dallas, Nikita Whitlock from Cinncinati, and Roosevelt Nix from Atlanta. The latter 2 are versatile and can do other things on both sides of the ball and we have the roster space.

    • steve earle says:

      Love the idea of Copland coming to NE, I was hoping we might have drafted him.

  5. steve earle says:

    Very reasonable projection at this point Kevan, well done. My big question is Armstead? Any real explanations he will get on the practice field this summer? Not that I expect him to be a difference maker even if he does but would like to see for myself.

  6. Kevan says:

    I think this roster projection is pretty dead on for right now. I would like to see Stephen Houston make the team somehow, but I like Bolden. His special teams ability is valuable, I think he was banged up last year and had to play out of position last year when Vereen went down. He is a below average 3rd down back, but a more explosive BJGE between the tackles runner when healthy. Call me crazy, but I saw something special his rookie season when him and Ridely destroyed the bills. Houston might be even more explosive though, but not as good on special teams, which Bill puts an emphasis on. Not having Woodhead last year really hurt the team, which is why I think they let Blounte walk and then drafted White, who Bill even compared to Vereen. To me, he looks like a more talented Danny Woodhead. Pats are not gonna have a lot of two TE sets, outside of power run plays, so maybe Gronk, Hooman, and Devlin are exactly what they need. Earlier this month I questioned Devlin’s spot on the team, but now it looks like he is a lock with his versatility. A lot of talk has been made about the possibility of two RB formations, taking over the the two TE ones. That would be interesting, pats could do a lot of different things with that. Who knows, maybe Ridely is the one getting ousted, him and Vereen are on contract years, it’s unlikely but not impossible. The lines look good, Armstead is a serious disappointment right now, but I like the Dt’s regardless. Maybe he can turn it around. I’m really surprised that the Bequette pick doesn’t get more animosity, considering he hasn’t done anything as a 3rd Rd pick, and all the hate the T. Wilson and D.Harmon picks got. Seems kinda strange. With the addition of J. Anderson and promise of Beauharnias I like the Lb’s. Secondary looks really good. Training camp, injuries are gonna play a big part in how the roster shapes up so now it’s just the waiting game. Overall, I like what I see, a lot of competition going down this summer. A lot of tough cuts to be made, which is a good thing. I’m pretty stoked, this will be the best defense the pats have had since the 2003-2004 years. The offense will be better than last year too, a lot better. Especially if the Gronk can finally play a whole year. I say 12-4 at the very worst, sky is the limit for this squad, take it to the bank. Go pats.

    • Jack says:

      IMHO the reason Bequette doesn’t get the hate is that the pick made sense where he was at. Although obviously in retrospect it doesn’t, but the time it did.

      • Kevan says:

        I think your right jack, it’s a good point. I would just think after 2 years of nothing it would be included in the discussion. How many snaps has he played? Tavon Wilson had 4 pics as a rookie, Bequette might have 4 snaps on the field in 2 years. D. Harmon might be a starter this year. I think T. Wilson has a better chance of making the team than Bequette. At some point you have to stop judging players for what they did in college, and where they were supposed to get drafted, and start judging them on their ability to help the team. Ultimately, the writing is in on the wall for both of them, so it’s a moot point.

  7. trent says:

    Solid 53, barring any injuries.

    My pre-training camp 53 is pretty much the same. The one key difference I have though is to take a special teams LB (White for now, until we learn more about Gordon or the others in TC) over Daxton Swanson. My reasons for this (of course this is just my opinion)–

    (1) I don’t see how we only carry 5 LB’s. We have seen over the years that Bill will hold on to some for special teams. Just look at how long the list of special team LB’s on the roster is right now–it is that long for a reason, they are gunning for a spot.

    (2) Everyone is talking up Swanson’s OTA’s–and rightfully so, by the sounds of it–but consider that he has been cut before and that the pads aren’t even on. So I am not going to put him on the roster yet until he can keep it up through camp, which I am skeptical about.

    (3) Swanson had a good camp at corner, but not sure yet if, as a fifth corner, he brings enough special teams value to be active for games. Maybe he does show enough ST value to stick. If not, that means the other reason to keep him on the roster is to avoid risking losing potential future talent. Again, he’s been cut before. Is his talent worth losing a key special teams player off the roster? It’s a questions to which we currently don’t have an answer, but one to consider as we watch him moving forward.

    (4) While Browner is suspended, I don’t see a need to keep a fifth corner. I think we can survive the first couple games with the other four corners plus Jemea Thomas, barring the inevitable injury of course.

    (5) Let’s say Swanson does make it. When Browner comes back, there are two options (assuming no injuries–yeah right). First, keep Swanson and thus have 6 corners on the roster, plus Jemea Thomas. Too much in my opinion, and would have to sacrifice depth at another position. Second, cut Swanson, in which case, what was the point of hoarding talent on the inactive list in the first place, over a special teams player? So I still prefer an extra LB over a fifth/sixth corner.

    • trent says:

      It’s interesting to think about how fun of an exercise it is to do a roster projection, and how much thought/detail could go into even the smallest decisions like what I just wrote about, and yet take a step and realize that at this time of the offseason, it is really worthless to stress about these little things. I don’t know why we all do it, I don’t know why I do it, I guess I have fun obsessing about it…but to recognize that it all changes after one injury hits or whatever, kinda makes you realize that all that obsessing is a waste of time until it gets closer to cuts. Oh well…

    • Kevan says:

      Swanson got cut before due to injury. My opinion is it’s about having 10 db’s, the line is blurred in the secondary when it comes to position titles, with the way the game is played now. So maybe 6 CB’s and 4 S’s are listed but L. Ryan could play Safety, J. Thomas and Mccourtey could play corner. I don’t know, I defenitely agree that this is fun but pretty much a waste of time with so much at play and all the variables. Time will tell.

    • MaineMan says:


      WRT your point (1) –

      The nickel package has almost become the default “base” defense, since the Pats are in some variation of it for at least half of all defensive snaps, and in the “dime” for an additional +/- 5%. This means a lot of 4-2-5, 3-2-6, and even 4-1-6 sets. IOW, the Pats will have 3 LBs on the field for only around 40% of the defensive snaps. The #4 LB will likely see about as many snaps as the #5 did a few years ago (assuming Mayo, Collins and HT all stay healthy). So, the #4 guy needs to be a fairly good all around LB (vs. both run and pass) in order to be a viable injury sub, PLUS a solid special-teamer (e.g., Fletcher). The #5 is probably mainly a special-teams specialist (Chris White, Josh Hull, e.g.).

      The flipside of this is the need for more DBs for all those nickel/dime sets. DB is also the most injury-prone group in the league, accounting for about 40% of all player-games-lost (the Rams alone had 8 DBs on IR a couple seasons back). Versatility and special-teams contributions are, indeed, key for the situational DBs and reserves. Like Jemea Thomas, Tavon Wilson played both CB and safety in college (and has become a solid special-teamer). I’ve also read that Swanson had at least some experience at safety, FWIW.

      Anyway, 5 LBs and 10 DBs is probably a good ratio these days, especially with Nink being able to drop back to OLB if needed.

      • trent says:

        I agree with 10 DB’s, but I think it should be 10 DB’s and 6 LB’s. That being said, for the first 4 games, while one DB is suspended, I believe that 9 will be fine given that one is coming back, especially since the hope is that injuries don’t pile up so fast in the first four games.

        With respect to your nickel argument, I totally agree that DB’s should be more valuable than LB’s at this point. For a couple years, I always wanted the Pats to keep an extra DB, but I kept getting surprised at cuts to see how many LB’s made it through. So it is not that I disagree with the need for DB’s, but more that I am trying to guess what the TEAM will do, not what I WANT them to do; they seem to value special teams LB’s. I am trying to align expectations with what the team has historically done. But hey, maybe this is the year they change course and keep extra DB depth.

        • MaineMan says:

          Sorry. I was a little confused about where you were focused (my fault), so it’s actually a different discussion.

          Anyway, I’m not really sure how the extra LB/STer vs. extra DB/STer in the past has been intentional, or merely the way things worked out. Reiss reported a couple seasons back that BB wanted to get “bigger” on ST, whch tends to support the “intentional” side. That might also support Zach Moore making the roster (at someone else’s expense) if he shows decent promise as a developmental DE, ~AND~ very good ST ability (IIRC, Buchanan became a reliable STer early on last Camp, a critical factor for late-round/UDFA rookies and other “cheap” signees, and it probably helped Buchanan stick). OTOH, Fletcher (6015/245) stuck because he was an exceptional STer from the get-go (not to mention very athletic), and even halfway-decent DBs seem to have been hard to come by for the Pats until very recently.

          So, I think that, rather than an arbitrary “we’re going to keep an extra LB for ST”, it probably comes down to which players, regardless of position, seem most reliable on ST, but that’s also mediated by (a) who they are certain will make it through to the PS, and (b) the projected injury situation at the time of cuts.

          At the moment, the LB candidates are:

          Chris White (6026/240) – incumbent and a premier ST-specialist going into his 4th season
          Josh Hull (6026/237) – new FA, and another highly-regarded ST specialist going into his 5th season
          – These are both vet-minimum guys, analogous to Tracy White and Niko Koutouvides from a couple years back

          Ja’Gared Davis (6000/238) – a 2013 UDFA who was called up from the PS a couple times to cover ST when a guy was injured

          Beauharnais (6007/240) and Anderson (6026/229) – AFAIK, Anderson isn’t much of a ST contributor, and Beauharnais didn’t contribute much on ST last season (in fact, he was on the inactive list while Ja’Gared Davis played, IIRC).

          **Then there’s the “unknowns”: Darius Fleming (6015/245), Deonte Skinner (6010/250), Cam Gordon (6021/236) and Taylor McCuller (6005/239). Fleming might be a guy to watch from this group. A 2012 5th-rounder for the Niners out of Notre Dame, he lost his first two NFL seasons to pre-season knee injuries. But he was a pretty consistent player for all four college seasons and is the same size as Fletcher with similar athleticism.

          On the DB side, there are:

          Ebner (6000/202) – the incumbent and an exceptional STer
          Kanorris Davis (5093/211) – another 2013 UDFA who was promoted from the PS three times for ST support when Marquice Cole was hurt (and also played while Beauharnais sat); also a very good athlete
          Tavon Wilson (5116/205) – active for 13 games last season as a valued STer
          Chung (5112/207) – regardless of his skills (or lack thereof) at safety, he’s always been an excellent STer (save for his one fubar)

          Justin Green (5100/198) – another 2013 UDFA promoted from the PS twice, but mostly to bolster the injury-thinned CB corps rather than ST; similar athletically to Kanorris Davis, but with 4.42 speed

          **The unknowns:
          Shamiel Gary (5116/207) – safety
          Jemea Thomas (5092/192)
          Travis Hawkins (5095/192) – also an experienced KR with 4.37 wheels, 20 reps, a 128″ broad jump and a 6.80 3-cone
          Dax Swanson (5100/186) – 4.44/40
          Malcolm Butler (5096/187)
          – At this point, Thomas and Swanson seem unlikely to clear waivers to the PS. But that could change after a couple week in pads.

          So, (among other factors) ST experience is highly-valued, of course, as is continuity, especially wrt the scout team (PS). The continuity aspect may mean that the two Davises and Justin Green are more likely to go back to the PS (and are highly-likely to clear waivers again). But, after that, experience is kind of on the side of the DBs with Ebner, Wilson and Chung vs. White/Hull on the LB side.

          I’m not trying to make a case either way, just laying out the menu. Who knows? Stephen Houston could turn out to be a dynamite special teamer (like Bolden) and stick as a fifth RB (or just replace Ridley, who doesn’t do special teams, either).

  8. PSW says:

    Bolden hasn’t proved to be anything, I really hope Stephen Houston beats him for a spot.
    I would also prefer that if Stork doesn’t beat Wendel that Connolly gets a chance to take center, he was a better center than guard. And gladly dump Austin and Baquette already they have EPIC FAIL branded into their faces. And cut Fortson before he can get injured again does he really have to sit on out IR again.

    • steve earle says:

      Very true Bolden will never be mistaken for a starting RB but as an inexpensive 4th guy at the position I find little fault with him. Still if some rookie out shines him thats all to the good. Lots of guys that were here last year are are and should be on the bubble, you named two. Will be interesting.

    • MaineMan says:

      First two seasons:

      BGE (5105/215): 100/389 yds (3.9 avg), longest = 29 yds, 5 TDs — 5 rec/48 yds
      Bolden (5110/220): 111/545 yds (4.9 avg), longest = 46 yds, 5 TDs — 23 rec/163 yds (21/152 in 2013)

      BGE exploded in his 3rd season for 1008 yds and 13 TDs.


      AFAIK, Marcus Forston has never been on IR. Practice squad, yes.

      • steve earle says:

        If your thinking Bolden may expolde this year I would never say no, that kind of thing can happen as you point out and it would be a welcome event, then there are all those “buts”. I like Bolden for depth, he holds onto the ball and can sometimes make plays for us so until someone proves he’s better I’d stick with the kid.

        • MaineMan says:


          For me, he doesn’t ~have~ to “explode” like BGE, just continue to be a steady, reliable #3/#4 RB who can catch, and solid special-teamer for another year.

          Frankly, I think that Ridley is as much on the bubble as Bolden. Ridley isn’t really a receiving threat out of the backfield. He doesn’t contribute much of anything on special teams. All he does is run. And fumble.

          If Houston shows in Camp that he can run, carry securely, catch out of the backfield, pass-protect and contribute on special teams, why would he knock off Bolden, who can also do all those things, instead of Ridley, who doesn’t?

        • steve earle says:

          MM, we are thinking very much alike and glad you pointed out that Ridley will be under a microscope this camp. All it would take is a couple of fumbles in preseason to send him packing imo regardless of who else does what.

  9. Russell says:

    I think Wilson van Hooser makes the team, Dobson goes on IR.

  10. GM-in-Training says:

    On paper, Zach Moore is less athletic (though slightly heavier) than Jake Bequette. Maybe he can set the edge better. Dunno why either of them would stick around at this point…backup TE?

    I think at least 2 veteran FA show up by the start of the season. A TE and maybe another linebacker or big bruiser running back. The Pats used to trade late-round picks for veterans too, but that was when they used to accumulate draft picks.

    While I think there’s still a chance Mallet gets featured in the preseason, hyped up and traded, that all presupposes Garrappolo shows he can be a complete backup in time for this year. The most important thing a backup has to do is simulate 13 different opposing quarterbacks in practice during the season. Mallet has 3 years experience doing that.

    • Bobthebuilder says:

      Is Matt Millen training you? Honestly. The knock on Bequette coming out was lack of athleticism, and Moore’s only upside/reason to be drafted is his great athleticism. And why would either stay as a TE? Neither have played it before.

      • GM-in-Training says:

        Bequette had faster 40 and 3-cone time than Moore…so, how do you define athleticism?

        • Bobthebuilder says:

          Bequette was actually heavier too.
          Moore has longer arms and bigger hands. Their 40 times were within 0.02 seconds of each other, so not really a difference. Their broad jumps were about the same as well. But, Moore had 123 inch broad jump and Bequette only had 112 inches.

        • GM-in-Training says:

          Bequette’s 3-cone was 6.9 seconds, whereas Moore’s was 7.41…half a second difference says a lot about agility for two equal-sized and equal-weighted players.

          Bequette got 20 sacks in the SEC in college. Moore played against small-school opponents in college and was dominant.

          The big difference is, Bequette has had a couple years to show what he can do, and usually he wasn’t active on game day. Moore may have something Bequette doesn’t have, maybe a more explosive first step, but probably less ability to turn the corner. Moore has plenty of practice squad eligibility too and is cheaper. I agree it doesn’t look like either of them makes the 53-man squad.

    • TD says:

      Any TE’s able to be difference makers in the passing game are hard to come by and tied up (literally in New Orleans).

      I would think that the recent past with Hoyer would show fans that backup QB’s that hardly play behind Brady will only fetch the Pat’s a bag of kickoff tees. If BB is not sure about Garapalo, he will place a RFA tag on Mallett.

      • steve earle says:

        Maybe I’m wrong but I see Mallett’s highest value coming when some starter somewhere goes down with an injury. Not that he will give us a huge windfall but a bird in the hand, as the saying goes. Not sure about the RFA tag later have to think about that but sounds okay at first here.

    • steve earle says:

      We can tell when things are really slow when you and Bob seem to be debating who should get cut first Moore or Bequette?( lol) My solution cut them both on the same day and see who other teams may cast off, couldn’t do much worse imo.

  11. Kyle says:

    I like the projections overall, but I hope to see Armstead end up on PUP or something so as there is a chance he is able to contribute this year. I feel you’re right in projecting him as a cut though.

    • steve earle says:

      Disagree about Armstead. If he can’t go this summer it’s probably time to cut bait, save some money and roster space.

      • MaineMan says:

        Agree. Armstead may not stick around in any capacity if he can’t go by at least the first part of Camp. IDK, they still might IR him for another season. Won’t be a lot of $$ saved, though. His 2014 cap hit is $495k, not enough to count against the cap, though $250k of that is guaranteed (so it makes very little difference if they cut him now or later).

        I think Armstead maybe has unintentionally turned into a bit of a charity project for BB and Kraft. They were well aware of his health situation at USC and scouted him heavily before the 2012 draft. They passed on him then, but snatched him up as soon as he was available from the CFL (after he showed up very well there) and gave him a 3-year deal that included a total $655k guaranteed.

        Then his health situation got mysterious with some unnamed infection and he disappeared, even from the locker room (MRSA has been speculated). And he’s now apparently dealing with something else. But BB has stood by him, noting recently that Armstead has been working though an “unusual amount of personal stuff for any player”, but that “he’s been working hard and doing everything” that the coaches have asked of him.

        So, ……….?

        • steve earle says:

          Points well taken about Armstead MM. Hope your wrong about MRSA, that’s nasty stuff. I suppose another year on IR wouldn’t hurt but it does kind of drives me crazy just not knowing.

        • Bill Vermont says:

          If Armstead’s problem is now stemming from MRSA, it may be a bigger problem. Pats went to tampa last year and they had that problem. If Armstead was there……..That may be a football injury that can’t be cut.

        • MaineMan says:

          Just to be clear, the “mysterious infection” that kept him away from the team and was speculated to be MRSA was LAST season.

          This Spring, he’s reportedly been seen maybe a couple times during warm-ups and then gone straight to rehab, so I’d speculate that this is something different (maybe an actual athletic injury this time) – the latest in a terrible series of unrelated health issues that BB was perhaps alluding to. IIRC, Stephen Neal went through a similar series of problems for his first couple seasons, and then became a great starting OG in his 3rd season. I think maybe they stuck by Neal because he was totally committed, worked his tail off and showed plenty of evidence that he “got it.” Could be the same with Armstead.

          The counter example might be a guy like Dowling, who, even when he was healthy enough to play, clearly didn’t “get it.”

        • steve earle says:

          Sure hope it’s not MRSA for his sake, I’ve seen that stuff, tough to treat, hard to get rid of. Kind of sorry the idea even came up and sure hope it’s a “normal” football injury. MM, your point about Neal was a good one and clearly would justify keeping Armsted if that’s the case. BB knows about that so we just have to wait to see hou it goes frustrating as it may be.

  12. J H TARBORO says:

    Oliver, your early projections are ok but camp will not be like OTAs and mini-camp. Competition mixed with desire and some potential injuries is going to alter your list. A lot of these guys brought in this year are and will push these vets.

  13. ReneKicker says:

    I dont think any draft pick will be released, maybe Jeremy Gallon trying to sign him to PS

  14. Dylan.C says:

    Is this with or without Browner counting against the roster? I know he won’t during his suspension which is a bit of a silver lining to the situation, kind of gives the Pats an extra roster spot for the first 4 weeks. Hope Zach Moore can make the roster some way.

  15. Ryan says:

    Couple thoughts:

    1. Zach Moore to me would be a tough cut right out of the gate.

    2. Not sure we keep 5 safeties. That being said, not sure Chung should ever feel good about his position. He had one decent year and the was burnt toast the rest of his career. I like Ebner as a project and I think he can continue to make improvements; not only that he is a stud special teams player.

    3. Would it be smart to cut Wendell and keep Connolly, granted I understand that money tied up with Connolly, but he can play both G/C positions. Frankly, he may have even been a better Center.

    4. I think Justin Jones could get a shot pending how does in pads. His height is too much to ignore. My first through about him was can he play OT. Pretty unique height and strength ratio.

    5. Lastly, I hope a rookie RB makes the roster. Never been a fan of Bolden, it would be nice to have a Danny Woodhead type back, or even more of a bruiser.

    • PatsChamp88 says:

      5b. James White is a rookie and I have a hard time not seeing him male the roster

    • Grendel_the_Dog says:

      The first change to this 53 that I’m hoping for is Finch for Bolden, which would answer part of your desire. He’s not a bruiser — but Devlin sure is — but he’s got that combination of ability to make people miss and to break tackles that Woodhead showed so well, especially his first year with NEP. Higher ceiling than Bolden. Hoping he sticks.

      • steve earle says:

        I like your reasoning here. Devlin has shown he can run between the T’s and move the pile plus has some flexibility as TE also. I want to see Finch and a couple other guys with pads on before I make a final judgement(s) on them. Will be a good preseason though.

      • Jack says:

        I’m all in on the Finch bandwagon. I’m hoping he sticks. I’m not a Bolden fan, special teams notwithstanding.

    • steve earle says:

      Moore is one of those guys who might be more then the sum of his parts — or not? Once the pads go on we will see about a lot of them. Over the years we all have seen guys who look great in OTA’s then not so much in camp and vis versa. Camp will be a dog fight this year.

  16. dickhouse says:

    So long Tavon Wilson.

    Any thoughts on who gets sent to the practice squad?

    • Jack says:

      Yeah, that’s the worst pick ever – or close to it. Just awful.

    • MaineMan says:

      Here’s the thing about Tavon Wilson.

      He was the best safety prospect left on the board (Mel Kiper’s omniscience notwithstanding) at the time the Pats took him. It was documented within a couple weeks after the draft that other teams WERE after Wilson, including Atlanta and San Diego, and the Chargers had the next pick after the Pats (so, NO, they couldn’t have “taken him later”). Maybe one or two of the 15 safeties taken after Wilson have contributed as much in TWO seasons as Wilson contributed in his rookie season, and over half of them have been cut. The guy who San Diego ended up selecting in the 3rd round was recently cut after contributing squat for two years.

      Wilson showed great ball skills and solid tackling as a rookie, but his rawness in terms of route diagnostics and understanding his assignments led to a couple-three dramatically blown coverages at critical moments (Hello, Dax Swanson?). The fact that he didn’t see the field much in his second season doesn’t ~necessarily~ mean that he didn’t progress beyond that level or was “awful”, but perhaps more reflects the fact that the other safeties – McCourty, Gregory, Harmon – stayed relatively healthy. Harmon obviously outplayed Wilson in practices to become the #3 safety, but there wouldn’t need to be a night-and-day difference between them for that to happen.

      So, the Pats dumped 2-year starter Gregory at the very beginning of this off-season, leaving them with McCourty, Harmon, Wilson, 2013 UDFA Kanorris Davis and special-teamer Ebner. Since then, they’ve acquired a 7th-rounder (Thomas), a new UDFA (Shamiel Gary?) and retread Chung. Since they may be keeping five safeties (including Ebner), that doesn’t seem to me like any kind of all-out effort to fortify the safety position or even to replace Wilson as a reserve with someone who’s clearly “better”. The didn’t take Jimmie Ward, Dez Southward or Brock Vereen in the early rounds when they had the chance, they took Thomas in the 6th. They didn’t sign any of a dozen or so accomplished veteran free agents, they signed Chung.

      I mean, it COULD happen that Thomas and Chung bump Wilson off the bubble, but it’s far from a given based on what we actually know so far.

      • steve earle says:

        I don’t recall Wilson being on any prospects list at the time or any mocks but admit I could well be wrong. Even so doesn’t this fly in the face of Bill’s “value picks” (taking a S because he’s the highest S left on the board)? After all there were lots of much higher rated players at different positions still all over the board at the time. I’m at a loss to explain it no matter how the pick can try to be explained.

        • MaineMan says:

          Well, the teams themselves will often have significant interest in prospects that are unknown to Internet mockers and who have escaped media attention. It was RGII vs. Luck 24/7 on ESPN that year, IIRC, so I’m sure that a lot of “minor” prospects didn’t get much coverage. Also, the significant attention that Wilson was receiving from teams (private workouts, official visits, etc.) didn’t really ramp up until the last 10-14 days before the draft – after the media folks and the Combined Scouting co-ops, on which they rely for the bulk of their information, had already pretty much wrapped up their scouting phase.

          Anyway, I don’t find it particularly shocking when media analysts and draft gurus don’t know something that several teams know.

          As to Wilson being picked at #48, the specific spot in the draft sequence in which a guy gets picked depends almost entirely on the picking team’s perception of the competition for that prospect’s services that exists between that pick and their next pick. In this case, I’d have to guess that the Pats had good info that the Chargers, picking next at #49, had worked Wilson out privately. In combination with the death of talent at safety beyond Wilson, BB felt he had to make his move then or lose his guy. If the Chargers hadn’t been so interested and/or if there had been a few more talented safety prospects left on the board, I’m sure BB would have picked someone else and maybe taken Wilson in the 5th round or later (which maybe where Wilson WOULD have gone in a more “normal” safety class).

          As to picking Wilson instead of a “better” prospect at a different position to fulfill the “value philosophy”, there are two considerations in my mind.

          First, perhaps folks have forgotten what a hot mess the Pats’ secondary was going into the 2012 draft. At safety, in 2011, Chung topped the roster followed by Ihedigbo, Sergio Brown, Josh Barrett (who went to IR again) and Ross Ventrone. At CB, aside from Arrington and McCourty, who’d flailed all season trying to master the switch from zone to press-man, there was Dowling (to IR) Bodden (cut), Nate Jones (?), Antwuan Molden (?), Phillip Adams (?) and Sterling Moore. By the time the draft rolled around, safety was down to Chung, recently-signed Gregory and McCourty, who was just at the very beginning of his conversion from CB. So, after trading up for Chandler Jones and Hightower in the 1st round, safety had to be a major priority for one of BB’s two 2nd-round picks.

          Second, the next “best value” on the board for the Pats was probably LB Lavonte David who was widely projected as a 3rd-rounder, so BB likely thought he could get him at #62. He would probably have gotten him, too, if Tampa hadn’t traded up to #58 to take him.

          But that wasn’t where BB really missed on value in that draft. After Tampa grabbed David, BB traded down out of the #62 and missed Casey Heyward, Trumaine Johnson and Olivier Vernon. Then, when he took Bequette at #90, he missed out on TY Hilton. But, y’know, 20/20 hindsight and all that.

          Bottom line for me is that the Wilson pick was the right move at the time, even though it’s turned out to have been only partly successful so far. In the meantime, a much more solid secondary has grown up around Wilson, so we’ll just have to wait and see if he’s progressed and still fits the plan. If not, it’s probably no biggie at this point.

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