New England Patriots: 53-man Roster Projection

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Dec 30, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) congratulates defensive end Justin Francis (94) after sacking Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) (not pictured) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 28-0. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Soriano:

Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Justin Francis, Marcus Benard, Jake Bequette (5)

I still think Buchanan is too raw to make the roster, but I worry that it will be harder for him to slip to the practice squad than Jake Bequette, who hasn’t impressed me at all. I’ll go against the odds and keep Bequette for now, but I’ll have a good idea of what’s coming following the final preseason games against the New York Giants. For now, I’ll stick to my guns without significant evidence pointing to the contrary.

Matt Wincherauk:

Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Marcus Benard, Justin Francis, Michael Buchanan, Jake Bequette (6)

This might be one of the strongest corps on the team, along with QB and LBs. Jones is prime for a big breakout season, and Nink is a great hardworking player, who gets the most out of every play. Benard, Francis, Buchanan and Bequette round things out, leaving Cunningham as the odd man out, he’s had enough time to prove himself.

Gary Wolff:

Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Michael Buchanan, Justin Francis, Marcus Benard (5)

Jones and Ninkovich are the entrenched starters.  Ninkovich gets better every year, which is saying a lot for an 8th year veteran.  Michael Buchanan has done well and looks like he has a big upside.  The noticeable absence from this list is Jake Bequette.  I’m very surprised to see how incapable he is of succeeding in the NFL.  He simply can’t make a play.  He can’t get off a block.  He is a non-factor when he is out there as a lineman handles him one-on-one easily on every play.

Chris Martin:

Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Justin Francis, Marcus Benard, Michael Buchanan (5)

Bequette gets the cut, I know he is a 3rd round, but Buchanan has really proved himself. He stays

Chris Simoneau:

Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jermaine Cunningham, Justin Francis, Jake Bequette (5)

The starters are good, but this group has something to prove in 2013. Cunningham hasn’t lived up to his second round pedigree, and Jake Bequette, who was a third round pick in 2012, barely saw the field last season. Justin Francis showed flashes of being a solid contributor last season and needs to continue improving.

Cyrus Gellar:

Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Marcus Benard, Justin Francis, Michael Buchanan (5)

The Pats have a lot of depth at this position heading into the 2013 season and I expect a lot of sacks from this bunch when the season is all finished up. I did leave former third round Jake Bequette pick off this list in favor of rookie Michael Buchanan, simply because I haven’t seen enough from Bequette over the last year and a half to give him what is now a valuable roster spot.

Celia Westbrook:

Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Justin Francis, Marcus Benard, Michael Buchanan (5)

This is probably the end of the line for Jermaine Cunningham as he had an unimpressive season (impressive until we found out about his PED use) last year, and now, he hasn’t played due to injury. Jake Bequette has been forgettable and it’s time to move on.

Chris Field:

Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Marcus Benard, Michael Buchanan, Justin Francis (5)

There’s a major drop-off in talent after Marcus Benard. I know Buchanan has a LOT of work to do if he’s going to be effective in this league, but he’s played so many snaps in the preseason that I think the coaching staff is interested in him. Choosing between Francis and Bequette is like choosing between Sanchez and Gabbert. I guess Francis has more versatility.

Hal Bent:

Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Justin Francis, Marcus Benard, Jake Bequette (5)

Jones and Ninkovich (hard to believe he was cut from New Orleans as a long snapper in 2009) are entrenched as starters and Francis and Benard have impressed getting into the backfield and earned roles on a team desperate for pass rushers. Jermaine Cunningham versus Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette for the final spot should be an easy win for Cunningham, who should realize he is very close to becoming a footnote in Patriots history. Injuries could land Cunningham on the PUP list and let him stick around a little longer.  Buchanan is likely ticketed to the practice squad (if they can sneak him through waivers) and Bequette sticks around until Cunningham is healthy enough to return by default.