Training camp and the NFL Draft are officially over, which means it’s time for a New England Patriots roster projection. Armed with a seemingly endless amount of cap space, Bill Belichick went absolutely wild over the past few months while completely rebuilding his team. The results speak for themselves, as New England appears ready to get back to the postseason after their one-year hiatus. Without further ado, let’s take a look at what the roster could look like when Week 1 rolls around.
New England Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Reloaded And Ready To Roll
In: Cam Newton, Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer
This Patriots roster projection assumes that Cam Newton will win the starting job for at least the first week of the season. The one-time NFL MVP had a rough season last year, but it’s hard to blame him for the overall shortcomings of the offense. Newton signed in July, didn’t have offseason practices, and had to deal with the worst supporting cast in the league. Now with a full offseason and a better set of weapons, it’s on Newton to prove he can still play at a high level.
Mac Jones reportedly impressed during OTA’s, but it’s too early to assume he’s ready to handle starting duties. For now, Jones will start his career on the bench with a reliable veteran in Brian Hoyer to show him the ropes. Jarrett Stidham is a former Day 3 pick that hardly played in a wide-open quarterback battle, and was terrible when he did see the field. Unless he takes a major Year 3 leap, he’s probably staring down the end of his Patriots career.
Running Back/Fullback (6)
In: Damien Harris, Sony Michel, Rhamondre Stevenson, J.J. Taylor, James White, Dalton Keene
Damien Harris looked like one of the best pure runners in the league last year and should be the lead back in this rushing attack. Sony Michel makes for a fine complementary piece, but there are rumors that he could be a part of a Julio Jones trade. If he goes, then Rhamondre Stevenson will be the next man up, and his physical style of running is tailor-made for this offensive line.
J.J. Taylor made a few nice plays as a rookie, but his smaller frame means he probably won’t be anything more than a situational player. James White is back for at least one more year as New England’s reliable option out of the backfield. Dalton Keene, meanwhile, takes over as the full-time fullback. A tight end by trade, I could easily see Bill Belichick trying to make Keene play the Kyle Juszczyk role in this offense.
The biggest omission from this group is old friend Brandon Bolden. However, just because he didn’t make this Patriots roster projection doesn’t mean that he won’t be around. There is a very real chance New England re-signs him after Week 1 when veteran contracts are no longer guaranteed.
Wide Receiver (5)
In: Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski
Jakobi Meyers looked like a legitimate NFL contributor in the back half of 2020, but it’s a good thing that Belichick brought in some additional reinforcements. Nelson Agholor is coming off of a great season with the Las Vegas Raiders, while Kendrick Bourne has always been a nice role player for the San Francisco 49ers. These three should form a fine trio behind the tight ends, although nobody would complain if Julio Jones joined in on the fun.
After two disappointing seasons, N’Keal Harry earns one last shot to prove himself on the Patriots. That being said, he’ll have to fight for playing time as the fourth receiver on the depth chart. First-Team All-Pro Gunner Olszewski will remain the returner, while Tre Nixon could push for one of the final spots with a strong camp.
— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) May 27, 2021
Tight End (3)
In: Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Devin Asiasi
This was the easiest part of the Patriots roster projection. Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith aren’t nearly as good as peak Rob Gronkowski, but they are both massive upgrades from what New England was dealing with over the past two seasons. Devin Asiasi didn’t exactly light up the stat sheet last year, but that’s typical of rookie tight ends. The former third-round pick had his moments and could develop into a Kyle Rudolph type of player if everything breaks right.
Offensive Line (9)
In: Isaiah Wynn, Michael Onwenu, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Trent Brown, Ted Karras, Justin Herron, William Sherman, Yodny Cajuste
New England’s offensive line might just be the strongest part of an already-strong roster. The starting combination of Wynn-Onwenu-Andrews-Mason-Brown is one of the best in the league, and the depth is second to none. Ted Karras is a starting-caliber lineman at all three interior spots, while Herron and Sherman both have the ability to play tackle and guard. Yodny Cajuste is a massive wild card, as the West Virginia product has some great college tape but hasn’t been healthy since entering the league.
Here’s hoping that #Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn can stay healthy. Wynn is a high-end NFL tackle when he’s out there. The Pats picked up his fifth-year option today. He’ll be under contract through 2022. pic.twitter.com/7kxJGNpoN3
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) May 3, 2021
Defensive Line/Edge Defender (8)
In: Matt Judon, Chase Winovich, Christian Barmore, Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy, Henry Anderson, Deatrich Wise, Ronnie Perkins
Bill Belichick loves versatile defenders, so the difference between linebacker and defensive lineman can be hard to define. What isn’t hard to define, however, is the massive amount of talent within the front seven. Matt Judon should immediately improve the pass rush, while Christian Barmore was a fantastic value midway through the second. Chase Winovich has plenty of pass rushing potential while Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, and Henry Anderson should eat up space in the middle. Ronnie Perkins falling to the back of the third was absolutely astonishing, and the fact he is the last name on this list just goes to shows how good this group is.
In: Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Terez Hall
The boogeymen are back, at least in part. Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy should return to their usual roles in the defense, although Hightower carries a huge cap number and is getting up there in age. Josh Uche is set for a huge season after showing some flashes as a rookie, while Anfernee Jennings continues to serve in a reserve role.
The biggest discussion point here is Terez Hall vs Ja’Whaun Bentley. Bentley wasn’t ready to handle a top role in the defense after losing all three starting linebackers from 2019, but he can still be a solid role player. That said, Hall played better down the stretch and deserves the final spot on the roster.
In: Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Myles Bryant
After an entire offseason of trade speculation, Stephon Gilmore and JC Jackson are still here and ready to form one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL. In a league where passing has never been more important, having a starting duo this talented is crucial to a successful defense. Jonathan Jones will continue his fantastic work in the slot, while Joejuan Williams should finally have the opportunity to prove what he can do with an expanded role. Myles Bryant was one of the few bright spots on the 2020 Patriots and could turn into New England’s latest undrafted gem.
In: Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Jalen Mills, Adrian Phillips
Barring injury, it’s hard to see a world where these four aren’t on the roster in Week 1. Devin McCourty still has plenty left in his tank, while Kyle Dugger looks to be New England’s next great safety. Jalen Mills was one of New England’s bigger offseason prizes and has the versatility to play safety and cornerback. Adrian Phillips, meanwhile, was a welcome addition to the 2020 Patriots and should continue to be a reliable role player.
Still can’t get over this play for two reasons:
1.) Chase Winovich tossing Carlos Hyde around with ease
2.) Kyle Dugger blitzing and absolutely leveling a 327-pound linemen
The future of the Patriots defense. 👀pic.twitter.com/UgGE9hB9wM
— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) September 23, 2020
Special Teams (5)
In: Nick Folk, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel
Even with some additional competition, it’s hard to imagine a world where Nick Folk isn’t kicking and Joe Cardona isn’t snapping. Folk is coming off of a fantastic season, while Cardona has been one of the best long snappers in football since entering the league. Jake Bailey is the unquestioned punter on this team, and Bill Belichick would sooner retire than see Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel miss the 53-man roster.
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