Patriots 53-man roster projection, version 3.0: Lots of changes following first preseason game

WEEI
August 11, 2019 - 10:14 pm
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The first preseason game is in the books and now the Patriots are gearing up for their joint practices with the Titans ahead of next Sunday's preseason game No. 2.

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Just a few days following the first preseason game, this is the perfect time for Patriots writers Andy Hart and Ryan Hannable to update their 53-man roster projections, which includes multiple changes from their last one a few weeks ago.

(Click here to see version 2.0.)

Here’s how the pair see things as of now.

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

Stidham has been pretty darn impressive in practice and camp action. He’s not going anywhere. Hoyer played as well in the preseason opener as maybe he ever has in a Patriots uniform. It’s looking more and more like Bill Belichick will have to use three roster spots on the quarterback position. (AH)

As much as we try to only keep two quarterbacks, Hoyer looked really good Thursday night and Stidham just hasn’t done enough to this point to fully feel comfortable going with just two QBs. Could that change between now and the regular season? Yes, but right now three quarterbacks seems likely. (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)

There just doesn’t seem to be much flexibility at running back, especially with Bolden guaranteed $2 million. Aside from some surprising cut/trade for Burkhead, this group seems pretty much locked in. (AH)

No changes here, and there likely won’t be any between now and when the 53-man roster is made. It is worth noting something seems to be up with Harris. He didn’t play at all in the game and hasn’t received many carries in practice. Nick Brossette has impressed, but it doesn’t seem like it will be enough to earn a roster spot. (RH)

TIGHT END (2): Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo  (AH)
TIGHT END (2): Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo (RH)

The tight end position is even more up in the air than it was to open the summer. Lance Kendricks is missing key early time in camp to an undisclosed injury. LaCosse limped off in the preseason opener, so his status is a bit hazy. Izzo hasn’t exactly lit the world afire, either. With Benjamin Watson suspended for four games to open the year and Rob Gronkowski retired, there is no spot with more uncertainty than tight end. (AH)

Really anything can happen at this position as it will still be a work in progress with Benjamin Watson suspended the first four games. If healthy, LaCosse should be a lock, and then the rest is a mystery at this point. No one has done much of anything to stand out to this point and right now Izzo has the edge because of his ability to block. If Stephen Anderson, Andrew Beck or Lance Kendricks stand out over the next few weeks a roster spot is very much still in play. (RH)

WIDE RECEIVER (7): Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Jakobi Meyers, Braxton Berrios, Matthew Slater (AH)
WIDE RECEIVER (7): Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Jakobi Meyers, Matthew Slater (RH)

The receivers all played really well as a group in the preseason opener, though seeing Harry limp off was far from ideal. Seven is a big number here, but Berrios may steal the extra roster spot to return punts. Meyers is well on his way to joining the long list of undrafted rookies to make the New England roster. (AH)

Even though we’re well into training camp, there is plenty to be decided at this position. We’re not in love with going with seven players, but there are some unusual circumstances and injuries to consider. It’s unclear if Edelman and/or Harry will be 100 percent healthy for Week 1 and may be limited, which is why we’re going with an extra body. In addition, Berrios is the only one who has stood out in the return game and it’s unlikely the team wants Edelman deep early on in the year. Ryan Davis and Dontrelle Inman would be tough cuts, but someone has to go at this position. (RH)

OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Isaiah Wynn, Ted Karras, Dan Skipper, Hjalte Froholdt (AH)
OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Isaiah Wynn, Ted Karras, Dan Skipper, Hjalte Froholdt (RH)

It would really be nice to see Wynn get on the field for some 11-on-11 reps and preseason action. Until that happens, the line has a major question at left tackle. Skipper actually acquitted himself pretty well in the preseason opener. It will also be interesting to see if Martez Ivey gets into the roster battle after a late arrival, showing some versatility in early camp action. (AH)

Rookie tackle Yodny Cajuste would pretty much be guaranteed a roster spot if he could get on the field, but he’s currently on NFI. At this point there really just isn’t a viable option other than Skipper at tackle, who hasn’t looked all that impressive, although he did look OK against the Lions. All this wouldn’t be an issue if Wynn were fully healthy, but he’s yet to participate in 11-on-11 drills so there are questions there. James Ferentz is a possibility on the inside, but Froholdt likely has the edge given his selection in the draft. (RH)

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise, Mike Pennel, 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)

This was a pretty active, impressive group in the preseason opener. The edge could come down to some tough decisions, especially with Shilique Calhoun making some noise in both joint practice and game action in Detroit. At this point he still feels like a longshot to make the team unless there is an injury. (AH)

This group feels pretty much set with Rivers having a nice couple of weeks to prove he’s deserving of a spot. The same can be said for Shelton, although if the team needs to keep an extra player at another position, this position could be one to take a roster spot from. (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)

Bentley and Collins showed just what they can bring to the defense in the preseason opener. King is established in his role on special teams, as are Hightower and Van Noy on defense. So, if there is going to be a surprise move at linebacker it would be with Roberts. For now we’ll stick with six. (AH)

This is one of the stronger positions on the entire team and it feels like the only battle is Roberts competing with Christian Sam for the final spot. Roberts seems to be building off his best year to date last season, so seems likely to stick around. (RH)

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

Gilmore, Jackson and McCourty are established in their roles and roster spots. That means Dawson, Jones and Joejuan Williams are battling it out to fill out the depth chart. Jones is the most proven option in the mix, but has to remain a possible trade consideration at a position of depth. If Jones stays, that creates an interesting battle between Dawson and Williams, with it being extremely unlikely that either guy would be outright cut. Keion Crossen doesn’t make the cut as a special teams option, but if he does it really throws a wrench in the numbers in the back end. (AH)

This is a very interesting position with a lot that can happen between now and the start of the season, including the possibility of a trade. Right now, we don’t have Duke Dawson on the team as it feels like he does a lot of the same things as some of the other players. It would be tough for Bill Belichick to let go of a second-round pick, though. Although on the roster, it wouldn’t be a total shock to see Williams have a similar rookie season to Dawson last year, which could open up another spot. This position is very far from being set. (RH)

SAFETY (4): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks (AH)
SAFETY (4): Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Terrence Brooks (RH)

Obi Melifonwu gets the ax from the last projection here. The idea of having him on the roster as an athlete is appealing, but when it comes down to it the production just isn’t there to warrant the spot. McCourty and Chung are locks. Brooks is proving his worth not only as a special teams ace but also an option on defense. Harmon remains a trusted third safety and backup option, though some are trying to talk themselves into the former captain being a surprise cut. I just don’t see it at this point. (AH)

Nate Ebner is still on PUP and it may be best to keep him there until the middle of the season and things change on the roster. Brooks has been one of the more impressive players to this point and looks to be more than just a special teams player. Some have speculated Harmon’s spot could be in jeopardy, but we just don’t see it. Obi Melifonwu could challenge him, but he hasn’t made many plays to this point. (RH)

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

Gostkowski and Cardona have no competition and no chance to be cut. Bailey showed his extra value by handling kickoffs in the preseason opener. He also boomed a punt. His consistency will come with time but right now he appears to be making nice early strides toward unseating the veteran Ryan Allen. (AH)

Like we predicted, we have gone back to Bailey over Ryan Allen. The rookie out of Stanford kicked off in the preseason opener and then got the first punt. He has a massive leg and the only question is his consistency, which seems to be getting a little better. If he stays steady, he should find himself on the team come September. (RH)

Related: Sunday 7: Do Tom Brady’s contract negotiations, offseason spending indicate shift in Patriots’ philosophy?