Aug 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes against the New York Giants during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots Roster Projection 3.0: Ryan Mallett Makes The Cut

Quarterbacks: (3)

Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett

Jimmy Garoppolo played well on Thursday, but I don’t think he played well enough to bump Ryan Mallett off of the roster. As great as Garoppolo has been this preseason, I still believe Mallett is the better, and more experienced signal caller. If Brady went down at some point in the regular season, I would rather see Mallett leading the offense.

Running Backs: (5)

Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White, Jonas Gray, James Develin

The first three are set in stone, but that fourth spot is still up for grabs. It is interesting that Brandon Bolden did not dress for the Pats in the last two preseason games, which may mean he will be cut in the next few hours. I like what I have seen from Gray thus far, and I think he has earned a roster spot on this squad.

Wide Receivers: (5)

Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins

Nothing new here. These five slots have been set from the beginning, and since Josh Boyce never made a push for that fifth spot, there will be no drama in today’s cuts from this department.

Tight Ends: (3)

Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, Tim Wright

Newcomer Tim Wright was extremely impressive in his preseason debut on Thursday night, and I think he will have a very productive season for New England. The combination of a healthy Gronk, and Wright will present the opposing defenses with a lot of matchup problems.

Offensive Line: (10)

Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Bryan Stork, Jon Halapio, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Josh Kline, Cameron Fleming, Jordan Devey

With Logan Mankins gone, the structure of the Patriots offensive line has taken a dramatic turn. I think Mankins’ absence guarantees Halapio and Kline’s presence on this team, and it will probably promote Marcus Cannon to a starting job. However Bill Belichick works in mysterious ways sometimes, so that starting projection is mere speculation at this point. Jordan Devey had a bad preseason, but the Pats need as much depth as possible with Mankins out.

Defensive Line: (9)

Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Vince Wilfork, Joe Vellano, Chris Jones, Dominique Easley, Sealver Siliga, Zach Moore, Michael Buchanan

Tommy Kelly is now in Arizona, which I think directly helps Joe Vellano, and possibly Zach Moore. If Kelly were still in Foxboro, I think one of, or both of those players would be gone. But New England will now really need Vellano’s depth in the middle, especially if rookie Dominique Easley isn’t completely healthy to start the year.

Linebackers: (5)

Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Darius Fleming, Steve Beauharnais 

The starting trio is not only ready to go, but I believe they will be one of the best linebacker groups in the entire league. However the depth behind those three guys is still pretty scary at this point. Fleming had a solid preseason, as he was physical in the run game, and held up well in the passing game as well. Beauharnais generally struggled throughout the entire preseason, but the Patriots need at least five linebackers on their final roster, so he earns a spot by default.

Cornerbacks: (5)

Darrelle Revis, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, Malcolm Butler

Brandon Browner is suspended for the first four games of the year, so he will not count against the initial 53-man roster. However we all know he will be included on the team when he returns from suspension, probably starting opposite Revis. As for who will fill in his spot while he is gone, it is pretty obvious that Butler has earned that roster spot fair and square.

Safeties: (4)

Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner

The battle for the second starting safety spot is an interesting one, and as of right now, I see no clear-cut winner. But I do think Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung will be the two safeties that receive a good amount of playing time in the coming weeks, so they earn the nod over Tavon Wilson.

Specialists: (4)

Stephen Gostkowski, Danny Aiken, Ryan Allen, Matthew Slater

Par for the course here. Everything should fall in line as expected.

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