Projecting The Patriots 53-Man Roster
With the New England Patriots set to make final cuts and announce their initial 53-man roster by Saturday's afternoon deadline, let's take our own look at who might be there when the list is released:
Quarterback (3): Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett
Note: No surprises at the top two spots on the depth chart. Though there has been a lot of discussion centered on whether the Pats, who rarely use a valuable roster spot on a third quarterback, would keep Brissett around, his strong showing in the team's preseason finale should go a long way in keeping him around. While the team could obviously benefit from the extra spot, the fact that they invested a third round pick in the former NC State quarterback last year and Garoppolo's uncertain future with the team beyond next season should make exposing Brissett to waivers a less than enticing option.
Running Back (6): James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, Brandon Bolden, D.J. Foster
Note: Six might seem like a big number, but the Pats' running back corps is by far their deepest unit of any on the team. Gillislee missed some time early in camp with a hammy, but looked good in the third preseason game and is expected to play a more versatile version of the LeGarrette Blount role of the past. White, Lewis and Burkhead are also all locks to make the squad, as they offer dynamic skills in both the passing and rush games. Bolden makes the list here, not so much for his abilities on offense, but more because the coaching staff seems to love what he brings to the team as a core special teamer. The real surprise of the group is probably Foster, but he makes the list as a replacement for the injured Julian Edelman. Of course, Edelman is a wide out and Foster has been primarily used as a running back since signing with the team as an undrafted free agent last season. Foster has experience playing receiver from his time in college, however, and can add another dynamic short yardage pass catcher, who can make people miss in space and help fill the void created by Edelman's injury.
Fullback (1) James Develin
Note: Develin provides the pats with a guy, who can block both out of the backfield and on the line of scrimmage. He also contributes on special teams and has provided great leadership throughout his time on the team.
Wide Receiver (5) Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell, Matthew Slater
Note: Even with Edelman out with the ACL injury, the Pats still have quality options at receiver. Cooks and Hogan will likely occupy the top two spots with Amendola and Mitchell chipping in. Slater is a receiver by trade, though his true contributions come on special teams as a captain. There can be realistic cases made for both second year wide out Devin Lucien and undrafted rookie Austin Carr, but for now Foster's versatility has netted him the spot.
Tight End (3) Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, James O'Shaughnessy
Note: While there has been some speculation that the team might go with just two tight ends, O'Shaughnessy cracks this list. His noted abilities on special teams coupled with his potential to play as a move tight end and pass catching threat could also bode well for his chances to make the team. Undrafted rookie Jacob Hollister has looked strong at different points this summer, but is a more likely option to clear waivers and be put on the practice squad.
Offensive Line (8) Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, Ted Karras, Cameron Fleming, LaAdrian Waddle
Note: Since 2017 third round pick Tony Garcia missed all of camp with an undisclosed injury, it is unlikely that he will be added to the roster. He'll likely start the year on IR. That means the the final spot along the line comes down to Waddle or rookie sixth round pick Connor McDermott. The thought process here is that McDermott won't be as tough to push through waivers and will be a strong candidate to join the team's practice squad.
Defensive Line (8) Trey Flowers, Alan Branch, Detrich Wise, Malcom Brown, Vincent Valentine, Lawrence Guy, Geneo Grissom, Adam Butler
Note: The team is clearly thin along the end, but pretty firm up the middle. The one potential surprise might be Butler, who after going undrafted out of Vanderbilt, has done nothing but impress. Playing both inside and outside, he has proven to have a knack for getting to the ball and making plays. While there is a depth issue along the edge, Guy could be used outside if need be.
Linebacker (5) Dont'a Hightower, David Harris, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, Marquis Flowers
Note: She McClellin's unavailability throughout the preseason leads many to believe he won't be ready to go by Thursday night's season opener. That means the newly acquire Flowers will take his spot. Hightower and Van Noy could take on bigger roles along the line as edge rushers, due to the team's lack of options there.
Cornerback (5) Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Kenny Moore
Note: Butler, Gilmore, Rowe and Jones are all locks and with the loss of Cyrus Jones to an ACL tear and Justin Coleman to a trade it seems as though undrafted rookie Kenny Moore, who has made some nice plays throughout the preseason, will get a chance to start the season with the team and further prove what he can do.
Safeties (6) Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner, Brandon King, Jordan Richards
Note: McCourty, Chung and Harmon are the team's top three options at the position, while Ebner, King and Richards are special teams contributors.
Specialists (3) Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona
Note: No one was brought in to challenge any of the three and they've all had solid tenures in New England. Three locks.