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Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Part One

With a few weeks of camp and a preseason game in the books, now seems as good a time as any to try and project who will make the final 53-man roster for the New England Patriots. As I went through all of the names and positions, I came to this conclusion: This is hard! This may be the toughest roster projection I’ve ever had to do, and this is likely a tough roster for Bill Belichick to shave down to 53 players. The dynamic has changed on defense with the Pats running more four-man fronts, and they have loaded up on the defensive linemen. One challenge I struggled with was balancing veteran defensive linemen with the younger players, and I tried not to get too old at the position. But it was tough.

Without further ado, let’s go to my roster projection, at least for now :)

Quarterbacks (3)

  • Tom Brady
  • Brian Hoyer
  • Ryan Mallett
No surprises here. The Pats could have the best QB situation in the entire NFL.

Running Backs (4)
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis
  • Danny Woodhead
  • Stevan Ridley
  • Shane Vereen
Kevin Faulk opens the season on the PUP list. I contemplated throwing Vereen on that list as well and keeping Sammy Morris, but Vereen looks close to returning. 

Wide Receivers (7)
  • Wes Welker
  • Deion Branch
  • Chad Ochocinco
  • Taylor Price
  • Julien Edelman
  • Brandon Tate
  • Matthew Slater
Slater makes the squad by virtue of his value on special teams. I almost cut Tate, and he could see himself on the outside looking in if he doesn’t get back on the field and show his value as a receiver. Being a return man doesn’t hold the water it used to with the new kick-off rules.

Tight Ends (3)
  • Rob Gronkowski
  • Aaron Hernandez
  • Lee Smith
No surprises here.

Offensive Linemen (9)
  • Matt Light
  • Logan Mankins
  • Dan Koppen
  • Dan Connolly
  • Sebastian Vollmer
  • Nate Solder
  • Steve Maneri
  • Ryan Wendell
  • Rich Ohrnberger
Ohrnberger and Wendell could see their spots taken by some of the younger players, like Thomas Austin. However, their ability to play multiple positions along the line saves them, for now. Marcus Cannon starts the year on the non-football injury/PUP list.

Defensive Linemen (10)
  • Jermaine Cunningham
  • Vince Wilfork
  • Albert Hayneworth
  • Andre Carter
  • Mark Anderson
  • Shaun Ellis
  • Myron Pryor
  • Kyle Love
  • Mike Wright
  • Eric Moore
Like I said above, this was the toughest position to project. Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick start the season on the PUP list in this scenario. Gerard Warren was a tough cut, but with Anderson showing his pass-rush abilities in the last preseason game and trying to keep the line from getting too old, Warren was the odd man out. He could make his way back in if Mike Wright can’t go.

Linebackers (5)
  • Jerod Mayo
  • Brandon Spikes
  • Gary Guyton
  • Rob Ninkovich
  • Dane Fletcher
Again, no surprises here other than Dane Fletcher showing as much progress as he did in the preseason opener. He started at MLB and called the plays on defense. He also made some nice plays. He could find himself rotating in with the starting unit.

Corners (5)
  • Devin McCourty
  • Leigh Bodden
  • Kyle Arrington
  • Darius Butler
  • Ras-I Dowling
Dowling needs to get on the field or he could start the season on PUP. Butler’s a tough keep, but there’s not much else and he does have the physical tools, he just hasn’t been able to show it yet. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pats scour the cut lists for help here, especially if Dowling can’t go.

Safeties (4)
  • Patrick Chung
  • Brandon Meriweather
  • Sergio Brown
  • James Sanders
Sanders is another guy who needs to get himself on the field, or he could start the year on PUP. Meriweather is a wild card at this point and his play is certainly under the microscope. This is another area we could see the Pats looking for in the cut lists. 

Specialists (3)
  • Stephen Gostkowski
  • Zoltan Mesko
  • Matt Katula
If the Patriots need a roster spot and Katula continues to struggle with his snaps, it’s possible he’s lopped off and someone like Rob Ninkovich, who has worked at long snapper, takes over those duties.

Topics: New England Patriots, NFL, Patriots Roster Projection

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