New England Patriots: 53-man Roster Projection

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Jan 20, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (middle) is hit by New England Patriots strong safety Steve Gregory (28) and cornerback Kyle Arrington (right) during the second quarter of the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Soriano:

Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Steve Gregory (5)

Every safety on the Patriots roster besides McCourty has been so up-and-down this preseason that I have to keep Steve Gregory. He misses tackles, he can’t cover beyond the first down marker, and he is making too much money. But he can play special teams like Nate Ebner, and, unlike Ebner, he can actually play at safety without embarrassing himself (I love Ebner, but his coverage was appalling last year). Gregory has been somebody I have been on the “cut” side for a while until last week, and that’s because of the uncertainty at the position. I want the Patriots to use Gregory correctly, and they did for the first time against the Lions. You have to use him like the San Diego Chargers did, and that’s by playing him as a third safety close to the line of scrimmage. What Gregory does best is make plays, and that’s how to take advantage of his best asset (besides leadership and intangibles).

Matt Wincherauk:

Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner (5)

McCourty returning for his first full season as safety is huge, and could be all-pro level there. Wilson hasn’t impacted like we thought, but is guarantee, and will be great versus the run. Wilson and Harmon are both rather unheralded, and I’m hoping one can manage to step up and be a quality starter, both still need a ton of experience and time. Ebner is the last one in, because if anyone knows me, I dislike Gregory and I’m tired of him always being out of place and missing tackles. Ebner is a great special team player, and fits what the Patriots want out of a player his caliber.

Gary Wolff:

Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Steve Gregory (5)

McCourty was back on the field, and none too soon.  This group has a ways to go.  Gregory looks slow and if Tavon Wilson looked stronger, I think Gregory would not make the cut.  Duron Harmon looks confused out there and is consistently out of position.  Yet the rookie has the physical talent to excel and makes the team.  It will be interesting to see who can emerge and earn the starting role next to McCourty.

Chris Martin:

Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Steve Gregory (5)

Nate Ebner was the hardest cut to make. I really like the guy, but sometimes, that is the way it works.

Chris Simoneau:

Adrian Wilson, Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon (4)

Another area that has had major question marks since Rodney Harrison retired looks better on paper, but will that translate to games? It should, and the signing of Adrian Wilson will not only help the young secondary players, it also provides the young New England defense an example of what it takes to stay in the league for over a decade. Devin McCourty is primed for a big season.

Cyrus Gellar:

Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Steve Gregory, Duron Harmon (4)

I have bumped second year man Tavon Wilson off the list in favor of rookie Duron Harmon because of the lack of improvement that I saw from Wilson this preseason. Even though Harmon is in his first year with the Patriots, it appears that he already is above Wilson in “football smarts”.

Celia Westbrook:

Devin McCourty, Steve Gregory, Adrian Wilson, Tavon Wilson Duron Harmon (5)

Tavon Wilson should be getting with the program by now (second-year) and I think he is walking a thin line. I see Steve Gregory winning Nate Ebner’s spot just because of the experience and leadership he brings to the young core of safeties.

Chris Field:

Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon, Steve Gregory, Nate Ebner (6)

Choosing between Wilson, Wilson, Harmon and Gregory is like choosing between Police Academy sequels. They’re all certainly varied, but none of them are particularly good enough at one thing to justify starting. At this juncture I would absolutely be more comfortable with signing Kerry Rhodes to play strong safety. He’s better out of position than any of those four are in position, but we’re ignoring the most important part of this article. Come over here. Closer. Closer. Look at me. Look me in the eyes. Look me deep in the eyes, and listen carefully to every word I am about to say:




I love Nate Ebner.

Hal Bent:

Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon (4)

At safety, it appears that youth will be served behind hard-hitting Adrian Wilson and soon to be Pro Bowl free safety Devin McCourty.  Nate Ebner just does not do enough to earn a Matthew Slater special teams only job. Steve Gregory just makes too much money (“value”) and does not play close to the line and tackle as well as Adrian Wilson, does not cover centerfield like McCourty, and does not have the upside of Bill Belichick’s hand-picked safeties, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon.  Harmon and Wilson were both high-round draft picks and will get time to show they belong.  Gregory should find work easily, possibly with the Jets who are very thin at safety.