The NFL season is less than two weeks away, which means it’s time to finalize the New England Patriots roster projection. The cut to 53 is right around the corner, so let’s see who has the best shot of making the initial roster.
New England Patriots Roster Projection 4.0: Final Prediction
In: Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
The most one-sided quarterback battle in recent memory officially draws to a close, as Cam Newton is primed to start in Week 1. The longtime Carolina Panther thoroughly outplayed both Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer during camp, and reportedly improved on a daily basis. While he’s still a considerable downgrade on Tom Brady, he should be a fine starter as long as he’s healthy.
Jarrett Stidham still has a chance to be the long-term solution under center, but he’ll be the primary backup in the short term. Brian Hoyer, meanwhile, sticks around thanks to his experience in the system.
Running Back/Fullback (5)
In: Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, Jakob Johnson
With Sony Michel officially activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list, the New England Patriots no longer have a need for Lamar Miller. Miller’s signing always felt like an insurance policy for Michel, but the former first rounder is back on the field and reportedly looks fresh. He should remain the starter, although Damien Harris will probably eat into some of his work.
The Patriots don’t have much in terms of proven commodities at wide receiver, so James White will be a crucial part of this offense. Ditto for Rex Burkhead, as the jack-of-all-trades should be a nice change of pace back. Jakob Johnson will be responsible for replacing James Develin, although Dalton Keene could split snaps here as well.
Wide Receiver (7)
In: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu, Gunner Olszewski, Damiere Byrd, Jeff Thomas, Matthew Slater
Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry are locks, and Mohamed Sanu is a pretty safe bet to make the roster as well. Sanu and Edelman should be the top options at receiver, and Harry could climb the depth chart if he overcomes his slow start to camp.
Gunner Olszewski was arguably the biggest standout in training camp and played his way right onto the roster. Damiere Byrd, meanwhile, is probably the fastest receiver on the team and will be responsible for stretching the field. Jeff Thomas has an intriguing skill set, although he probably won’t see the field too often as a rookie. Matthew Slater is a receiver in name only and will continue to be one of the best special teamers in the league.
Tight End (3)
In: Devin Asiasi, Ryan Izzo, Dalton Keene
Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene aren’t going anywhere, and Asiasi has reportedly looked particularly impressive in camp. However, training camp practices and NFL action are two completely different beasts, so the team will need to carry Ryan Izzo to serve as an experienced veteran.
Offensive Line (8)
In: Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Jermaine Eluemunor, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt, Michael Onwenu
Four of these five positions are locked-and-loaded with Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, and Shaq Mason. The right tackle position is completely up for grabs, and multiple reports out of camp indicate that Jermaine Eluemunor is the favorite for the job.
This means that 2019 third-round pick Yodny Cajuste will start his NFL career on the bench. Ditto for 2019 fourth-round pick Hjalte Froholdt, but both players should be the first on the field in case of injury. Rookie sixth-round pick Michael Onwenu earns the final spot, as his massive frame gives him the potential to develop into a starter down the road.
Defensive Line (8)
In: Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Beau Allen, John Simon, Byron Cowart, Chase Winovich, Deatrich Wise, Derek Rivers
Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler are locks on the interior, with both Beau Allen and Byron Cowart making the team in this Patriots roster projection. John Simon and Chase Winovich should be the top two edge defenders, at least in the early part of the season. Both players played well in limited snaps and should thrive in an expanded role.
Deatrich Wise is a solid rotational lineman, and he’s reportedly added some mass to improve against the run. Derek Rivers has all the talent in the world, but injuries have prevented him from making an impact on the field. He’s finally healthy and could provide valuable depth along the defensive line.
In: Ja’Whaun Bentley, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Brandon Copeland, Cassh Maluia
The difference between linebacker and defensive line can be a little unclear, especially with a Bill Belichick defense. However, these players will probably spend most of their time in the traditional linebacker role. Ja’Whaun Bentley played well in small samples, but only time will tell if he’s ready to replace Dont’a Hightower. Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings both posses solid upside, but might not be ready for a Week 1 starting role.
Brandon Copeland has the potential to be a free agent steal, as he possesses a lot of the traits that Belichick likes in a linebacker. Cassh Maluia, the teams sixth-round pick, makes the roster with Hightower sidelined. He’s smaller than your traditional inside linebacker, but knows how to play the run and is a solid early-down player. Basically, he’s Elandon Roberts.
In: Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Justin Bethel
No changes here, as the Patriots continue to have one of the deepest cornerback rooms in the league. Stephon Gilmore is still the best in the league, while J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, and Jonathan Jones all provide above-average play for their respective roles. Joejuan Williams played well as a situational cornerback and might see some time at safety, considering New England’s relative weakness at the position. Justin Bethel is one of the best special teams players in the league and should be a roster lock.
In: Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Terrence Brooks, Kyle Dugger, Brandon King
Even with Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon out of the picture, the Patriots should be all set at safety. Devin McCourty remains a great starter, while Adrian Phillips and Terrence Brooks should be capable of adequately replacing Chung. Kyle Dugger had a great camp before suffering a minor injury. Only time will tell if he’ll be ready to make an immediate impact, but his future looks bright. If Brandon King ever plays an actual snap on defense, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
In: Nick Folk, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona
The specialists wrap up this Patriots roster projection with a change from the last installment. Rookie fifth-round pick Justin Rohrwasser has been an outright disaster in camp, so New England will probably roll with longtime NFL journeyman Nick Folk. Jake Bailey and Joe Cardona, meanwhile, are absolute locks for their respective roles on the roster.