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Examining Patriots’ roster: Who are locks, who is on bubble, who has no shot?

Ryan Hannable
July 25, 2017 - 11:14 pm

Training camp kicks off Thursday morning at Gillette Stadium and there will be 88 players (as of now) on the back fields competing for a spot on the final 53-man roster.

This time of year is a big time for 53-man roster projections, but since we haven’t seen the whole team on the field in full pads, we’re taking a different approach. 

Here is a breakdown of the roster broken down by locks, bubble players and no shots. It should be noted we were very lenient with the bubble players. If there was any question at all about making the final 53, or even having the slimmest of chance of making the team, these players got this distinction. 

QUARTERBACK (3)

Locks: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

Analysis: All three quarterbacks will be on the roster. The real fun with this position doesn’t come until after the season. 

RUNNING BACK/FULLBACK (9)

Locks: Mike Gillislee, James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, James Develin

Bubble: Brandon Bolden, D.J. Foster, Glenn Gronkowski

No shot: LeShun Daniels Jr.

Analysis: Some say Lewis is on the bubble, but it makes no sense. He’s one of the most dynamic players the Patriots have at the position and he’s in a great situation of not having to be counted on each and every week, which will preserve his health. Bolden needs to have a big camp and impress because the team can only have so many strictly special teams players. The player to watch is Foster, as the team would love to keep him around, but it’s hard to find a spot on the roster for him and he will be tough to slide through waivers.

TIGHT END (6)

Locks: Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen

Bubble: Matt Lengel, James O’Shaughnessy, Jacob Hollister, Sam Cotton

Analysis: This will be the most competitive position in camp. Gronkowski and Allen are locks, but every other player at the position has a chance at the final spot. Lengel is likely the leader in the clubhouse given he spent the latter half of 2016 with the team, but a case could be made for every other tight end on the roster.

WIDE RECEIVER (9)

Locks: Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Matthew Slater

Bubble: Danny Amendola, Austin Carr

No shot: Cody Hollister, Devin Lucien

Analysis: Amendola is pretty much a lock, but given his age and injury history he’s in the bubble category for that reason alone. Although with Andrew Hawkins announcing his retirement on Tuesday, the only player really challenging Amendola is Carr, an undrafted rookie. It seems the most likely scenario is Carr finds himself on the practice squad.

OFFENSIVE LINE (16)

Locks: Nate Solder, Shaq Mason, David Andrews, Joe Thuney, Marcus Cannon, Ted Karras

Bubble: Cameron Fleming, LaAdrian Waddle, Conor McDermott, Tony Garcia, James Ferentz, Jamil Douglas

No shot: Andrew Jelks, Jason King, Cole Croston, Max Rich

Analysis: This unit returns the entire starting unit from last season, which is great, but the biggest thing is the lack of depth. Behind Solder and Cannon at tackle are two rookies in Garcia and McDermott and then Fleming and Waddle. The interior has some questions depth-wise as well. It is a big preseason for Fleming and Waddle, as one of the two rookies could take their spot as the swing tackle. Also, keep an eye on Ferentz and Douglas in the interior.

DEFENSIVE LINE (14)

Locks: Trey Flowers, Kony Ealy, Rob Ninkovich, Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Vincent Valentine, Lawrence Guy, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise

Bubble: Geneo Grissom, Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo

No shot: Josh Augusta, Adam Butler

Analysis: This position is pretty much set. It would take a lot for any of the three players on the bubble to crack the final roster. Some may question Rivers and Wise, but Bill Belichick likely wouldn’t cut such high draft picks after one summer.

LINEBACKER (8)

Locks: Dont’a Hightower, David Harris, Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy

Bubble: Shea McClellin, Harvey Langi, Jonathan Freeny

No shot: Trevor Bates, Brooks Ellis

Analysis: McClellin is more in the lock category than bubble, but Langi is the player to watch here. Belichick has loved the undrafted free agent out of BYU for a few years now and he can play other positions besides linebacker, so maybe he finds his way on to the roster. But, it will be an uphill battle.

CORNERBACK (9)

Locks: Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones

Bubble: Cyrus Jones, Justin Coleman

No shot: Will Likely, Kenny Moore II, Dwayne Thomas, Damaris Travis

Analysis: From this viewpoint, Cyrus Jones is basically a lock given he was a second-round pick and seemed primed for a big bounce back year, but given his struggles as a rookie it wouldn’t be right not to have him in the bubble category. With Jonathan Jones coming on strong at the end of last year and in the spring, Coleman could find himself as the odd man out.

SAFETY (10)

Locks: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner, Brandon King

Bubble: Jordan Richards

No shot: Jason Thompson, David Jones, D.J. Killings, Damarius Travis

Analysis: This is a big training camp/preseason for Richards. He doesn’t get to play much defense and is limited to special teams during the regular season, but when he did play safety during the preseason last year he struggled. In order to make the final roster, having a good few weeks is crucial considering he was a healthy inactive for much of the end of 2016.

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)

Locks: Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona

Analysis: No much to analyze here. The unit works well together so there’s no reason to break them up and each are among the best at their respective positions in the league.

OVERALL

Locks: 46

Bubble: 23

No shot: 19

Analysis: There really aren’t many roster spots truly up for grabs. Since we were overly cautious with the bubble players, in reality there may be roughly 48-49 locks. Bubble players who still have practice squad eligibility are top candidates to remain with the organization, provided they don’t get claimed by another team. This might be the least number of positions genuinely up for grabs at the start of training camp in the Belichick era, which speaks to how good of an offseason the team had.