Perry's 53-man Patriots roster projection 2.0
Perry's 53-man Patriots roster projection 2.0
Patriots rookies report to training camp this week, marking the official start of the summer portion of the season that will run uninterrupted through the fall and into winter.
Over the course of the next few months, the Patriots roster will undergo myriad changes. Incessant changes. Weekly, if not daily, changes. The bottom of their 90-man roster will be turned over, and the overall numbers will be cut down to 75 players, then later 53.
Before training camp practices get going on Thursday -- the beginning of what Bill Belichick has called a "competition camp" -- here's our best guess at which players will make it through to the final cut.
QUARTERBACKS (2): JIMMY GAROPPOLO, JACOBY BRISSETT
Now that we know that Tom Brady will serve his four-game suspension to start the season, the picture here becomes more clear. The Patriots could add a veteran quarterback at some point during camp if there is any concern about Brissett's readiness to take over in an emergency situation. However, given his competency in spring practices, it would come as no surprise to see Brissett trusted with the backup role as a rookie.
RUNNING BACKS (4): LEGARRETTE BLOUNT, BRANDON BOLDEN, DION LEWIS, JAMES WHITE
Lewis returned to practice during OTAs, making it seem as though his surgically-repaired knee is progressing as expected. He's felt well enough that he has said he's actually pushing trainers to do more. If he and Blount are healthy enough to start the season, that may force someone like undrafted rookie DJ Foster to be the odd man out in this equation. In that scenario, Foster would qualify as a practice-squad candidate.
TIGHT ENDS (4): MARTELLUS BENNETT, JAMES DEVELIN, ROB GRONKOWSKI, CLAY HARBOR
This may be one of the most well-rounded positional groups on the Patriots roster. There is obvious big-time talent at the top with Gronkowski and Bennett. Harbor and Develin provide valued experience, versatility and special teams ability. It will bear watching how Develin looks in his return off of a season-ending broken leg sustained last year.
RECEIVERS (6): DANNY AMENDOLA, JULIAN EDELMAN, CHRIS HOGAN, KESHAWN MARTIN, MALCOLM MITCHELL, MATTHEW SLATER
This position group heads into camp loaded with question marks. Neither Julian Edelman not Danny Amendola practiced in the spring, but Edelman appears to be healing well after offseason foot surgery, and indications are that Amendola will be available for camp. For those reasons, we have both on the active roster, and not on PUP, to start the year in our projection.
OFFENSIVE TACKLES (4): MARCUS CANNON, NATE SOLDER, SEBASTIAN VOLLMER, LAADRIAN WADDLE
The Patriots struggled to find capable depth at tackle when injuries hit in 2015, but they still didn't do much to add to the position this offseason. That could be an indication that they feel good about LaAdrian Waddle -- a late-year add last season -- as a potential replacement should they run into injuries yet again. We had only three tackles on our last projection, but Waddle could benefit from the open roster spot resulting from Brady's suspension.
GUARDS (4): JONATHAN COOPER, JOSH KLINE, SHAQ MASON, JOE THUNEY
Health concerns dog this position group at the moment. Will Kline, who did not participate in spring practices, be good to go for camp? Will Tre' Jackson, also among the missing this spring, be able to reclaim a big role on the interior? Even if both of those players need time to heal, there should be some good competition between Cooper, Mason and Thuney for the two guard spot. If everyone's healthy? This might be the most hotly-contested position group of the summer.
CENTERS (2): DAVID ANDREWS, BRYAN STORK
Now in his second season, Andrews has the benefit of a full offseason under his belt and could challenge Stork for the starting role. Thuney may also see some reps in the middle in order to have him as a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option.
DEFENSIVE ENDS (6): TREY FLOWERS, GENEO GRISSOM, CHRIS LONG, SHEA MCLELLIN, ROB NINKOVICH, JABAAL SHEARD
The edge defenders on the Patriots roster may represent the team's deepest group. How Flowers and Grissom develop in their second years, and how McClellin fits in with this group -- or is he an off-the-ball linebacker? -- figure to be some of the story lines to watch when practices begin.
DEFENSIVE TACKLES (4): ALAN BRANCH, MALCOM BROWN, TERRANCE KNIGHTON, VINCENT VALENTINE
There are few position groups with this kind of mix of veteran leadership and young promise. Keep an eye on another experienced pro, Markus Kuhn, who signed as free agents this offseason, should the Patriots want to expand their options on the interior.
LINEBACKERS (4): JAMIE COLLINS, JONATHAN FREENY, DONT'A HIGHTOWER, RAMON HUMBER
Humber was the first free agent signed by the Patriots this offseason, and while he may be a defensive afterthought in this linebacker group, his special teams experience makes him an intriguing fit. If Nate Ebner should land on a reserve list as he makes his way back from competing in the Olympics, the 28-year-old Humber would have the type of kicking-game wherewithal to help replace him. Sixth-round pick Kamu Grugier-Hill could also benefit from a potential delay in Ebner's return, but if the team can work the rookie onto its practice squad, it may benefit more from Humber's addition to the active roster in the short-term.
CORNERS (5): MALCOLM BUTLER, JUSTIN COLEMAN, CYRUS JONES, DARRYL ROBERTS, LOGAN RYAN
Roberts flashed during last year's training camp, but his season ended before it really started due to injury. Should the Patriots opt for six corners to start the season, they could go with undrafted rookie free agent Jonathan Jones out of Aurburn -- an undersized speedster. But if they go with five, Roberts and Jones could be primed to battle it out for that final spot.
SAFETIES (5): PATRICK CHUNG, DURON HARMON, BRANDON KING, DEVIN MCCOURTY, JORDAN RICHARDS
Brady's acceptance of his suspension wasn't the only bit of news that came down since our last projection. We've also found out that Ebner made the USA Rugby Men's Sevens team. It's unclear how the Patriots will handle Ebner's road back to football when he returns from Rio. The rugby sevens gold-medal game occurs on Aug. 10, potentially giving Ebner about a month to be ready for Week 1. That may be asking a lot of the special teams ace, meaning he could end up on a reserve list until he's fully prepared for football once again.
SPECIALISTS (3): RYAN ALLEN, JOE CARDONA, STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI
The recent release of long-snapper Christian Yount serves as an indication that Cardona will be eligible to participate with the Patriots during training camp and beyond. This trio looks set to take on its second year together as a unit.