Stew Milne//USA Today Sports

Patriots 53-man roster projection, version 4.0: Who will be surprise cuts, who will get last spots?

Ryan Hannable
August 31, 2018 - 11:05 am

The four preseason games are in the books and now it is onto the regular season and preparing for the Texans in Week 1.

Before that, the team will need to finalize its 53-man roster by 4 p.m. Saturday.

There were quite a few roster battles which played out over the course of the summer, some of which came right down to the final preseason game.

Here’s how we see the Patriots’ 53-man roster looking (keep in mind, things could change rather quickly after it is first set with players going to injured reserve, claiming players released by other teams, etc.).

QUARTERBACK (2): Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer

This position is been pretty much set since the first few weeks of training camp, as Danny Etling hasn’t shown enough to overtake Hoyer as the backup. We do see Etling as a practice squad candidate, though.

RUNNING BACK (5): James White, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, Jeremy Hill, Sony Michel

We have Brandon Bolden released with Michel making the initial roster, but then placed on injured reserve with the chance to return. The Patriots would then bring back Bolden. It is worth noting, players who have the chance to return off injured reserve need to be on the initial 53-man roster. 

TIGHT END (4): Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister, James Develin

This another position that has been pretty much set since the first week or so of training camp. There wasn’t ever a true challenger to Hollister and Allen for the No. 2 and 3 tight end spots.

WIDE RECEIVER (5): Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley McCarron, Matthew Slater
Suspended: Julian Edelman
Injured reserve: Braxton Berrios

McCarron was one of the final players to make it on the entire team, but obviously could get bumped out if the team does in fact bring in another receiver. We see Berrios headed for injured reserve without the chance to return after missing the final three preseason games.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Trent Brown, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, LaAdrian Waddle, Ted Karras, Cole Croston, Matt Tobin
Injured reserve: Isaiah Wynn

Croston and Tobin were the last two to make it, although Ulrick John may have had the inside track before getting injured Thursday. We see the team carrying an extra player here just because of Cannon not quite being 100 percent and also Brown’s conditioning is something to watch as well.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Trey Flowers, Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, Malcom Brown, Adrian Clayborn, Deatrich Wise, Derek Rivers, Adam Butler, Keionta Davis

Vincent Valentine is the last player left off here, as it seems Butler was able to win the final spot this past week. Davis hasn’t flashed much, but he’s played with the starters a bunch and with Flowers missing all of the preseason, maybe some extra depth at defensive end is needed the first few weeks.

LINEBACKER (6): Dont’a Hightower, Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Nicholas Grisgby, Brandon King
Injured reserve: Harvey Langi

Marquis Flowers and Christian Sam are the cuts here. Flowers just didn’t so enough this summer, and Sam missing the preseason finale certainly didn’t help his cause. Grisgby and King have a lot of special teams value, and Grisgby has shown some potential at linebacker.

CORNERBACK (6): Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty
Injured reserve: Duke Dawson

With Dawson missing so much time this preseason and so much talent in front of him, it makes most sense just to put him on injured reserve before Saturday, so he will not count towards the 53. Keion Crossen was one of the last cuts, but we see him clearing waivers and catching on with the practice squad. Jason McCourty was the final player on following the trade of Jordan Richards.

SAFETY (4): Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner

No real surprises here. Richards was on the bubble prior to getting traded to the Falcons Friday.

SPECIALISTS (3): Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona, Stephen Gostkowski

It will be the same as it has been for the last several years, as these three are not only a great combination on the field, but remain close off the field.

Related: Cyrus Jones not worried about looming cuts