The New England Patriots mandatory minicamps are officially in the books. With the team beginning their quest for a seventh championship, let’s take a look at who has the best chance to make it on the Week One roster in the latest Patriots roster projection.
New England Patriots Roster Projection 3.0
In: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham
Out: Danny Etling(?)
Tom Brady looks as good as ever, but the battle for the backup job could get interesting. Jarrett Stidham has reportedly impressed early in training camp, but he’ll need to show more to usurp Brian Hoyer for the second spot on the depth chart. New England should have no problem carrying all three quarterbacks, but they’ll move on from Hoyer if they feel Stidham is ready for the job. Whether it’s quarterback or wide receiver, Danny Etling won’t be making this roster.
Running Back (6)
In: Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, Rex Burkhead, James Develin
Out: Nick Brosette, Jakob Johnson
Sony Michel is off the PUP and should be ready for the start of the season. The former first-round pick should be the starter with James White as the primary receiving back. Damien Harris is a good backup while Brandon Bolden is a special teams ace who can fill in on offense in a pinch. Rex Burkhead doesn’t have an easy path to playing time, but they’d only save $1 million in cap space by releasing him. Considering Michel’s injury history, New England probably wants a reliable backup like Burkhead.
Wide Receiver (6)
In: N’Keal Harry, Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Matthew Slater
Exempt/PUP: Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas
Out: Dontrelle Inman, Ryan Davis, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Damoun Patterson
This position is the hardest to predict. N’Keal Harry, Julian Edelman, and Matthew Slater are locks, but everyone else is fighting for a job. Phillip Dorsett still makes the cut, and Maurice Harris and Braxton Berrios earn roster spots after impressive series of practices. Edelman’s thumb injury opens the door for Berrios to make an impact.
To make room, Demaryius Thomas starts the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list and Dontrelle Inman doesn’t even make the roster. Jakobi Meyers was one of the hardest cuts to make, as the undrafted free agent has an impressive skill set. However, New England can probably get him back on the practice squad. Ryan Davis, Gunner Olszewski, and Damoun Patterson don’t have much of a chance.
Tight End (2)
In: Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo
Out: Andrew Beck, Stephen Anderson, Lance Kendricks
Suspended: Ben Watson
With Ben Watson suspended and Austin Seferian-Jenkins off the team, Ryan Izzo earns a spot opposite Matt LaCosse on the opening day roster. Izzo looked good last year and reportedly could have beat out Dwayne Allen were it not for his injury. It’s hard to evaluate blocking tight ends at this point in the off-season, so we’ll give the spot to the incumbent. If the Patriots thought Lance Kendricks had anything left in his tank, then they would’ve signed him before the start of training camp.
Offensive Line (8)
In: Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt, Ted Karras
Out: Cole Croston, James Ferentz, Tyler Gauthier, Cedrick Lang, J.J. Dielman, Dan Skipper, Tyree St Louis
The starting unit is locked and loaded with Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Marcus Cannon. For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume Yodny Cajuste is healthy by the time the season starts up. If that’s the case, he’ll be the top option at swing tackle.
Hjalte Froholdt and Ted Karras take the top spot, leaving Cole Croston on the outside looking in. Croston is currently on the PUP, but it’s hard to imagine him getting a job even if he was healthy. Dan Skipper appears to be the top reserve option at tackle, but he had a rough day with the first-team offense. New England should consider signing a guy like Donald Penn, as Thuney and Skipper aren’t exactly ideal solutions at tackle.
Defensive Line (9)
In: Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Mike Pennel, Chase Winovich, Deatrich Wise, John Simon, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart, Derek Rivers
Out: Danny Shelton, Shilique Calhoun, Keionta Davis, Trent Harris, Ufomba Kamalu, David Parry, Nick Thurman
The top six or seven guys are locks, leaving Danny Shelton, Derek Rivers, Byron Cowart, and the rest fighting for two or three spots. For now, Cowart and Rivers make the cut. Cowart has reportedly looked good in practice and comes cheaper than Shelton. Shelton spent the majority of the off-season on the street, so New England could bring him back if injury strikes. Rivers, meanwhile, still holds potential as a third-round pick and could impress in his first fully healthy preseason.
In: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jamie Collins, Brandon King
Out: Elandon Roberts, Terez Hall, Calvin Munson, Christian Sam, Shilique Calhoun
Elandon Roberts is one of the hardest cuts on this list, but there just isn’t room for a fifth linebacker who has never played more than 80 special teams snaps in a single season. Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and Ja’Whaun Bentley are locks, and Jamie Collins was one of the stars of minicamp. The Patriots can save almost $2 million by releasing the former sixth-round pick, so he doesn’t make this projection. However, Collins hasn’t been as dominant in training camp, so there’s plenty of time for this projection to change.
In: Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson
Out: D’Angelo Ross, Ken Webster, Keion Crossen
New England has a good problem at cornerback, as there are too many talented players to keep around. Stephon Gilmore is coming off an All-Pro season while JC Jackson and Jason McCourty are both above-average starters. Joejuan Williams is a promising rookie who can develop into a Brandon Browner type of cornerback while Jonathan Jones holds down the slot. Duke Dawson could be the slot cornerback of the future, but he could also be groomed to be Devin McCourty’s ultimate successor.
The biggest surprise cut on this projection is 2018 seventh-round pick Keion Crossen. Crossen was a valuable special teams player as a rookie and saw limited action on defense. While he is certainly an NFL-caliber player, he cannot crack this stacked depth chart.
In: Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks, Obi Melifonwu
PUP: Nate Ebner
Out: Malik Gant, A.J. Howard
Patrick Chung is already back on the field after suffering a forearm injury in Super Bowl LIII. He’ll start opposite Devin McCourty, who is still one of the better safeties in the game. Duron Harmon will play his usual role as deep safety while Nate Ebner starts the year on the PUP list in this projection. Terrence Brooks makes it for his special teams prowess, while Obi Melifonwu earns a job after a strong camp. Malik Gant is a prime candidate for the practice squad.
Special Teams (3)
In: Jake Bailey, Stephen Gostkowski, Joe Cardona
Out: Ryan Allen
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