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Patriots Roster Projections 2.0

Thursday, August 21, 2014

 

The New England Patriots have gone past the halfway point of the preseason and, despite multiple injuries, the depth chart is starting to take form. With injured players such as Jeremy Gallon, Brian Stork and Dominique Easley starting to return, the depth on the roster is on full display.

The first group of roster cuts take place on August 26, which is less than one week away. As the Patriots welcome the Carolina Panthers into Gillette Stadium on Friday, multiple jobs could be on the line.

Offense (25)

Quarterback (3) - Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo

Both quarterbacks behind Tom Brady played well in the Patriots' preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and will likely both be on the roster.

Ryan Mallett brings valuable experience in an emergency situation while Garoppolo brings a strong presence with an extremely high ceiling.

If all goes according to the Patriots' plan, however, neither Garoppolo or Mallett will see the field in 2104.

Running Back (4) - Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White, Roy Finch

Despite Stevan Ridley fumbling against the Eagles, he is still the Patriots' best runner, by far. Ridley does have to keep his fumbling problem under control if he wants to stay the lead back.

The surprise here, to some, is Finch making the roster. Finch has a special play making ability that the Patriots will not be able to sneak onto the expanded practice squad. His ability to return kickoff makes him a valuable asset for Bill Belichick and his staff.

Fullback (1) - James Devlin

No surprises at the fullback position. Devlin is the man for the job and continues to look better each time he takes the field. Devlin is a very good blocker and will likely be used as a 3rd tight end in 2014. Devlin's expanded role in the offense makes him even more valuable than he was in 2013.

Tight End (2) - Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui

There are no other tight ends that are worth keeping on the roster outside of Gronkowski and Hoomanawanui. Even with the injury concerns to both men, they create a formidable duo at tight end.

Although Hoomanawanui is a good option, the real factor is how many games Gronkowski will play. Without Gronkowski, the Patriots' offense is pedestrian, with him they are an explosive dominant offense. Gronkowski said his plan is to play all 16 games, and if he does it could be another great season for "Gronk".

Wide Receiver (6) - Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Tompkins, Brandon LaFell, Matthew Slater, Brian Tyms (Reserve/Suspended)

No, the count is not off on this. Brian Tyms will be able to hold a place on the Patriots roster without counting against the 53-man roster until his suspension is over.

The major exclusion in this group is Josh Boyce. Boyce has been a non-factor on the offense and his special teams value has been surpassed by Roy Finch.

The rest of the group combines smaller, shifty receivers (Edelman and Amendola) with bigger outside receivers (Dobson, LaFell and Tompkins) to create a group worthy of having Tom Brady spread the ball.

Matthew Slater also gets an obvious roster spot due to his special teams prowess.

Offensive Line (9) - Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Josh Kline, Bryan Stork, Cameron Fleming, Jordan Devey

The offensive line has been a point of emphasis during the preseason. Players have been shifting spots, playing out of position and fighting to impress new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. 

Even though he has been injured recently, rookie Brian Stork still finds a way onto the roster. Cameron Fleming also makes it onto the roster, but that is out of necessity since he would likely not clear waivers to get onto the practice squad.

One rookie that did not make the cut is Jon Halapio. He was edged out by Jordan Devey, who has seen a great deal of first-team snaps.

Defense (25)

Defensive Line (10) - Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Dominique Easley, Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones, Michael Buchanan, Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Zach Moore, Joe Vellano

While defensive stalwarts Vince Wilfork, Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones highlight this group, there is a ton of depth behind them. Veteran Will Smith misses the cut in favor of Joe Vellano.

Vellano played well in spots in 2013 for the Patriots and has shown that he can play in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, both of which have been seen this preseason. 

Linebacker (6) - Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Dont'a Hightower, James Anderson, Darius Fleming, Steve Beauharnais

The top of the Patriots linebacker depth is without question Mayo, Collins and Hightower. Behind them, Anderson is a perfect fit. Flaming and Beauharnais both edge out a core special teamer such as Chris White due to their increased value on defense.

Fleming has positional versatility, and although he is a surprise pick for the roster to some he brings future value to the Patriots defense.

Defensive Back (9) - Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, Malcolm Butler, Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner, Brandon Browner (Reserve/Suspended)

The cornerback position is set for 2014. Darrelle Revis, Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Browner and others make a formidable group on the outside. The safety position is much different. Outside of Devin McCourty, the position is a mystery. Patrick Chung brings the physical aspect, but is weak in coverage. Nate Ebner is strictly a special teams player.

That leaves Duron Haromn and "inside coverage" players such as Kyle Arringotn and Logan Ryan. While the position remains a mystery, the unit itself is solid.

Specialists (3) - Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Danny Aiken

No surprises or competition for the teams specialists. Gostkowski, Allen and Aiken are all secure in their jobs for the moment. Keep an eye on Allen, however, who has struggled receiving snaps dating back to the 2013 Playoffs.

 

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