Patriots 53-man roster projection, version 1.0: Surprise cuts as training camp nears

WEEI
July 23, 2019 - 7:35 am
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Patriots training camp is fast approaching as the full squad will be on the field Thursday morning on the upper grass fields behind Gillette Stadium.

There are a number of roster spots up for grabs and those will be decided in the training camp sessions, as well as in the preseason games.

But, before things get going, WEEI.com Patriots writers Ryan Hannable and Andy Hart each projected the 53-man roster and it will be a regular feature over the course of training camp/preseason.

QUARTERBACK (3): Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham (AH)
QUARTERBACK (3): Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham (RH)

Bill Belichick is likely going to have to keep three passers. If he goes with only two it probably means the fourth-round rookie Stidham had an incredibly impressive summer. (AH)

Not much up for debate here as the team will part ways with Danny Etling, perhaps sooner rather than later. Stidham isn’t ready to be the lone backup, which keeps Hoyer around as Stidham needs to stay on the 53-man roster since he likely would not pass through waivers and make it onto the practice squad. (RH)

RUNNING BACK (6): Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, James Develin (AH)
RUNNING BACK (6): Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, James Develin (RH)

Barring injury or trade, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for roster movement here, especially with Bolden getting $2 million guaranteed to return to New England. Given the uncertainty at tight end and receiver, keeping all the impressive talent in the backfield makes sense. (AH)

This position is fairly straight forward with not much competition. Bolden may be the only player who is a question mark, but after the team brought him back this offseason, it would appear he’s in their plans for 2019. (RH)

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Matthew Slater, *Demaryius Thomas on PUP (AH)
WIDE RECIEVER (6): Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Matthew Slater, *Demaryius Thomas on PUP (RH)

Demaryius Thomas seems destined to open the season on PUP, while Julian Edelman’s expected absence from the early part of camp opens up opportunities for others. Harry will obviously be given every chance to have a big role, while Harris and Berrios appear best positioned to snag backups jobs at this point. (AH)

This position is the most open on the roster with Edelman and Harry as the only true locks. Going into camp, Dorsett, Harris and Berrios have the edge over the others, but that could change very quickly. Also, don’t be surprised if others are brought in over the course of the summer and even the first few weeks of the season. (RH)

TIGHT END (2): Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, *Benjamin Watson suspended first four games (AH)
TIGHT END (2): Matt LaCosse, Andrew Beck, *Benjamin Watson suspended first four games (RH)

The reality is that the tight end position is thin, especially with Benjamin Watson opening the season with a four-game NFL suspension. Maybe undrafted rookie Andrew Beck can steal a spot. Or maybe there will be a late addition to the mix. (AH)

Not much was done this offseason to replace Rob Gronkowski and it got even worse when Austin Seferian-Jenkins was released the spring. Then piling on, Watson was suspended for the first four games. The final roster spot will likely come down to Ryan Izzo and Beck where we like the undrafted rookie to get the nod. (RH)

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Isaiah Wynn, Ted Karras, Brian Schwenke, Cole Croston, Hjalte Froholdt (AH)
OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Ted Karras, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt (RH)

Wynn avoiding a PUP start to camp is a nice first step toward him winning the starting left tackle job to solidify the line. Then all the battles will be for backup roles, meaning Croston opening camp on PUP could hurt his chances. (AH)

With some questions with Wynn coming off an Achilles injury prior to his rookie season, this position may be forced to carry an extra player just as a precaution for the first couple of weeks. The team could afford to move on from Karras given he and Froholdt are pretty much the same player, but at least to start we see both sticking around as Karras provides a veteran presence. James Ferentz, Cole Croston and Brian Schwenke are players who are on the bubble and with good showings could earn a spot. (RH)

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise Jr., Mike Pennel Jr., John Simon, Adam Butler, Chase Winovich, Derek Rivers, Danny Shelton (AH)
DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Deatrich Wise, Lawrence Guy, Mike Pennel, Michael Bennett, Adam Butler, Danny Shelton, John Simon, Derek Rivers, Chase Winovich (RH)

The front has a good mix of youth and veteran experience as well as versatility. Pennel replaces Malcom Brown in the middle, while Shelton wins a backup role. On the edge Rivers is at a make-or-break point in his career, needing his positive attitude and work ethic to finally turn into production. (AH)

Shelton and Rivers are the only real bubble players here and like the offensive line, we could see this position cutting a player in order to get another player elsewhere a spot on the team. It would likely be a defensive end rather than an interior player, as the inside is a bit thin. (RH)

LINEBACKER (6): Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jamie Collins, Brandon King, Elandon Roberts (AH)
LINEBACKER (6): Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts, Brandon King (RH)

Collins returns to add versatile depth to a strong unit. King is a veteran special teamer, pushing Christian Sam out of the mix for a similar role, while Roberts’ experience keeps him around for another year. (AH)

This is a very solid group and there will be a battle between Roberts and 2018 draft pick Christian Sam for a roster spot. Also, don’t sleep on undrafted rookie Terez Hall. (RH)

CORNERBACK (5): Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson, Joejuan Williams (AH)
CORNERBACK (6): Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Duke Dawson (RH)

Gilmore is probably New England’s best defender and one of the game’s best cornerbacks. Jackson and McCourty will battle for the other starting job and form a formidable top-three. Dawson and Williams are second-round picks with plenty of potential and a lot to prove. Jonathan Jones would be a tough cut or a possible trade option, while Keion Crossen’s development as a raw corner and speedy special teamer will have him in the mix this August. (AH)

This will be a very competitive position, especially at the backend. It will likely come down to Keion Crossen and Dawson, but we give Dawson the edge solely because he was a second-round pick last season and it’s very rare to see one cut in the second year. (RH)

SAFETY (4): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Obi Melifonwu (AH)
SAFETY (4): Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Terrance Brooks (RH)

Nate Ebner didn’t take part in minicamp and opens the summer on PUP. Even if he gets healthy could be in a major battle for a roster spot. Safety is a top-heavy position with the three veterans and limited backup potential, although the unique athlete Melifonwu got high-end reps in minicamp with Chung absent. (AH)

Brooks already feels like a Bill Belichick favorite and that could be bad news for Nate Ebner and Obi Melifonwu. Strong summers from either of those players could get themselves on the team, but right now we see them on the outside looking in. (RH)

SPECIALISTS (3) Stephen Gostkowski, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona (AH)
SPECIALISTS (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona (RH)

There is no competition at kicker or long snapper. So this comes down to Bailey against the incumbent Ryan Allen for the punting job. Bailey’s impressive leg and ability to kick off if needed could very will win him the job as another Belichick draft pick investment in a specialist. (AH)

The only battle here is at punter and if Bailey can stay consistent we like his chances to beat out Ryan Allen. Bailey has a massive leg with the only knock against him is his inconsistency. (RH)

Related: Everything you need to know to get ready for Patriots training camp