Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
DT: Alan Branch, Sealver Siliga, Malcom Brown, Dominique Easley, Zach Moore
Cut: Chris Jones, Antonio Johnson, Joe Vellano, Vince Taylor
DE: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom
Cut: Xzavier Dickson, Rufus Johnson
Branch is one of the more overlooked players on the Patriots’ roster. Quite frankly, he was playing better than Vince Wilfork in the playoffs. Similarly, Siliga is better than most people think, and the pair will be at the top of the rotation in Week 1.
Brown and Easley represent the future of the Patriots’ interior defensive line, and the future isn’t very far away. Branch and Siliga are the guys for now, but Brown and Easley could be getting significant minutes by midseason.
Moore has put on some weight this offseason and will earn the final defensive tackle spot, beating-out Jones, Johnson, Vellano and Taylor. There just isn’t much extra room on the interior of the defensive line these days now that Brown is on the team.
Ninkovich, Jones and Sheard give the Patriots a three-headed monster at defensive end. They’re all roster locks.
Bringing up the rear at the defensive end position is a pair of 2015 draft picks, Flowers and Grissom. Both are very intriguing prospects, and both should see a fair number of snaps as rookies, especially if injury-prone Jones misses any time.
Making the practice squad is Dickson, who is the latest Crimson Tide product to join the Patriots. He’ll prove his worth in training camp, edging out Johnson for the practice squad slot.