Patriots Roster Projection: 30 Days From Season Opener
On Thursday, September 7th the Patriots will be hosting the Chiefs as the 2017 NFL season kicks off. The defending champion Patriots will be revealing their fifth super bowl banner, assuming they do find space to put it. That’s a good problem to have and another is a deep roster with minimal holes and weaknesses which the Patriots do have. This does result in tough decisions for the coaches to make in regarding final roster spots.
With the season opener 30 days away let’s do a 53-man roster projection for week one.
Quarterback: (3) Tom Brady, Jimmy Garappolo, Jacoby Brissett
Nothing changing here. Arguably the deepest quarterback room across the league.
Runningback: (4) James White, Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead
An extremely deep group of versatile running backs for a versatile offense. Gillislee is projected to be the power back so expect him to get most of the goal line carries with White, Lewis, and Burkhead being mostly utilized in the passing game to create mismatches with linebackers.
Wide Receiver: (5) Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola
A talented and versatile group of pass-catchers that rivals 2007’s receiving core that included Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney as best in Patriots history. We will see if this group can rival that record-setting group as on paper it certainly looks like they can.
Tight End: (3) Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, James O’Shaughnessy
Gronkowski returns with a focus on staying healthy and producing at an elite level like the All-Pro tight end is used to. Dwayne Allen looks to be a solid second tight end to allow the Patriots to utilize their “12” personnel, two wide receivers, two tight ends, one running back. O’Shaughnessy beats out Matt Lengel for the third and final tight end spot.
FullBack: (1) James Develin
Develin is the physical presence the Patriots need on offense. After re-signing in the off-season he will continue paving the way for the running backs.
o-line: (8) Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Antonio Garcia, Cameron Fleming, Ted Karras
Protection for the Patriots’ future hall of fame quarterback is always high on the list of importance. The starting five from last season return so the focus turns to the back-ups. Antonio Garcia has impressed and is a lock so far. Swing-tackle Fleming finds his way onto the roster with Karras as depth for the interior.
Let’s move on to the defense.
D-line: (8) Trey Flowers, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Kony Ealy, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise Jr., Vincent Valentine
The retirement of Rob Ninkovich has left this group thin with depth. Expect the Patriots to make a move to address this need. Flowers looks to have a dominant year with Ealy, Rivers, and Wise rotating. The interior looks stout with Branch leading the pack.
Linebacker: (6) Dont’a Hightower, David Harris, Kyle Van Noy, Shea Mcclellin, Elandon Roberts, Harvey LAngi
Harris provides another enforcer in the middle for the Patriots with Roberts providing solid depth. Van Noy and McClellin will be asked to be in pass coverage as well as rushing the quarterback at times. Langi finds his way onto the roster after being undrafted by performing in camp and the retirement of edge defender Ninkovich.
Cornerback: (5) Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones
Jonathan Jones wins the battle for slot corner beside starters Gilmore and Butler while Rowe provides solid depth and match-up ability with bigger receivers. Cyrus Jones makes the roster because it is too early to give up on him being a 2nd round pick with a ton of talent. Patriots hope he can find his way this season.
Safety: (5) Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Brandon King
Richards performs his way onto the roster. Many have been putting a question mark on the former 2nd round pick but he has stepped up and will look to contribute more than ever. McCourty and Harmon play the center field with excellent range and reaction with Chung being utilized in the box and on tight ends. King will provide depth and contribute as a stand-out special teamer.
Special Teams: (5) Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona, MAtthew Slater, Nate Ebner
Gostkowski leads a solid group and remains one of the best in the league even with recent problems with extra points. Matthew Slater and Ebner provide an excellent duo of special teams aces. Back-up long snapper is another need created after Rob Ninkovich’s retirement.