Now that the 2013 New England Patriots have experienced their first preseason game of the year, I think it is a fine time to revisit my Pre-Training Camp 53 Man Roster Projection. There are a number of players that have impressed over the last couple of weeks, particularly in the Pats win over the Eagles on Friday night. Here is a revised version of my ‘Final Roster Projection’ based on what has transpired in the weeks since the first projection was finished.
Quarterbacks (3): Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Tim Tebow
Despite Tebow’s horrid performance against the Eagles on Friday, I still think that Tebow will make the final cut. He may not ever see the field during the regular season, but he is still a solid option as a third string quarterback for New England.
Running Backs (5): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Leon Washington, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden
I think think this year the Patriots will carry five running backs to open the regular season, largely due to Blount’s performance against Philadelphia. He showed us that he brings more to the table than just power. He is a much better athlete than expected, and he showcased this on his 51 yard touchdown scamper early in the Pats win over the Eagles.
Wide Receivers (6): Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins, Matthew Slater
I bumped veteran Michael Jenkins off the list because of the impressive performance that Kenbrell Thompkins put forth on Friday. The three rookies have all shown throughout the offseason that they have the talent to make some noise within this Patriots offense, and because of that, Jenkins will find himself without a job come September.
Tight Ends (4): Rob Gronkowski, Zach Sudfeld, Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui
Ballard received 12 snaps with the first team offense against the Eagles, and that spoke volumes to me in terms of how the Patriots view him. Sudfeld was very impressive against the Eagles, and I think that the competition for the second tight end spot between him and Ballard will be extremely fun to watch as the regular season commences.
Offensive Line (7): Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Marcus Cannon, Will Svitek
Connolly and Cannon are both dealing with injuries at the moment, but I am confident that they will both be ready for the start of the regular season. With that being said, I still think New England will keep Svitek around for depth purposes. He has shown that that he is a solid backup to keep on the roster.
Defensive Tackle (4): Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Marcus Forston, Armond Armstead
Tommy Kelly may turn out to be the best free agent acquisition of the offseason for the Patriots. He brings an interior pass rushing presence to the team that hasn’t been there since the likes of Richard Seymour back in the glory days. Having a pass rush eliminates a lot of problems that you may have as a defense, and Kelly will help contribute to this new and improved Patriots pass rush.
Defensive End (5): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Marcus Benard, Justin Francis, Michael Buchanan
I have bumped Cunningham off the roster in favor of Marcus Benard in this projection. Cunningham has missed a good amount of time this offseason, and Benard has jumped at the opportunity. He impressed me in the first preseason tilt of the year against the Eagles, and if he is kept on the edge (no more nose tackle), he will put forth a very good 2013 campaign.
Linebackers (6) : Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Dane Fletcher, Steve Beauharnais
Collins showed off his versatility against the Eagles as he lined up at multiple positions throughout the contest. He is freakishly athletic, and if he is utilized correctly, I think he can have a big 2013 season. Beauharnais was also impressive when they faced off with the Eagles and if he continues to impress over the remaining portion of the offseason, I think he will be rewarded with a roster spot.
Cornerbacks (6): Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Marquice Cole, Justin Green
I thought Cole was very impressive against the Eagles, and whene you combine his special teams skills and coverage skills, I think you get a player that is worthy of a roster spot. As for rookie Justin Green, I liked what I saw from him as well, but this is more of a temporary thing because I have to see more of him before I make a final decision on him.
Safeties (4): Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon
No changes in this department. McCourty did not play against the Eagles on Friday, and the Wilson’s both played solidly in my eyes. I thought Harmon was very impressive in his coverage skills, and this was highlighted by ESPN Boston shortly after the Patriots win over the Eagles.
Special Teams (3): Stephen Gostowski, Zoltan Mesko, Danny Aiken
Gostowski missed two field goals against the Eagles, but I think he will straighten this issue out and be ready to go for the regular season. Mesko is locked in a battle with rookie Ryan Allen for the punter job, and I think Mesko will ultimately come out victorious. He lacks the cannon that Allen has, but he more than makes up for it, with his ability to place it inside the 20 yard line.
Will this be the final 53 man roster for the Patriots? You can see for yourself when the New York Jets visit on Thursday, September 12th. You can find cheap Patriots tickets for that match up at TickPick, with tickets beginning at only $143.