The 53-man roster prediction is a masochistic exercise. You can spend hours poring over the charts, historical position numbers, contracts and cap hits. In the end Bill Belichick will do what he feels will help the 2018 Patriots the best to win football games. Stop me if you’ve heard that one. Without any further delay, and before anyone else gets cut, I’ve went position by position and given a short explanation of my thought process.
Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling (PS)
This is the easiest position group to project. The Patriots will want to keep Etling in some capacity as he continues to progress.
Chris Hogan, Jordan Matthews, Phillip Dorsett, Matt Slater (ST), Cordarrelle Patterson, Julian Edelman (SUS), Braxton Berrios, Kenny Britt
Cuts: Malcolm Mitchell, Riley McCarron, Devin Lucien, Paul Turner
This is the perfect Patriot group of wide receivers. A quiet group of overachievers or veterans looking to prove themselves and get a chance at a ring. The Edelman suspension will give someone a four-week extension on their NFL career. The punt returner battle will determine the bottom of the depth chart as Berrios and McCarron battle it out.
Rob Gronkowski, Jacob Hollister, Dwayne Allen
Cuts: Will Tye, Ryan Izzo
I am reluctantly placing Allen in the final roster. I still believe he will adjust his contract before camp is done. A $5 million cap hit is much too much for ten catches, 86 yards, and one touchdown. Despite his excellent blocking abilities, you can find that for much less and allow the development of younger guys.
Rex Burkhead, James White, Sony Michel, Jeremy Hill, Brandon Bolden, James Develin (FB)
Cuts: Mike Gillislee, Ralph Webb
Another position group in which the pecking order is fairly well established. White, Bolden and Develin all have important roles. Burkhead and Michel figure to split the bulk of the carries. The only battle here is who will secure a big back role, if there is one.
Trent Brown, Isaiah Wynn, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, LaAdrian Waddle
Cuts: Joe Thuney (Trade), Nate Theaker, Jason King, Matt Tobin, John Ulrick, James Ferentz, Luke Bowanko, Ted Karras, Brian Schwenke
My first shocker! Trent Brown is looking to lock down the starting left tackle role with his impressive blend of size and speed. I can’t see Thuney holding off Wynn as the left guard. That makes him a viable trade target. A few of these guys will also be in line for practice squad spots.
Adrian Clayborn, Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Derek Rivers, Eric Lee
Cuts: Keionta Davis, Frank Herron
This could be a scary rotation. All of these guys bring some serious pass rushing abilities. Eric Lee is one of the last guys in, so he has to make some noise in order to grab his spot.
Danny Shelton, Malcolm Brown, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine
Cuts: Adam Butler, John Atkins
Another talented position group. Running against these guys just got a lot harder with the addition of Big Danny Shelton. Not a lot of rushing abilities which is why it’s a little light in terms of numbers for me.
Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Harvey Langi, Marquis Flowers, Christian Sam, Elandon Roberts
Cuts: Geneo Grissom, Nicholas Grigsby, Ja’Whaun Bentley
With injuries last year Van Noy had to assume a lot of different roles and played a ton of snaps. They rewarded him with a contract extension. Roberts was another player affected by the injuries last season. I think he would have been a reserve or even cut last season and is on the bubble again. Speed on special teams gives Christian Sam the nod over Bentley.
Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner
Cuts: Damarius Travis, Jordan Richards, A.J. Moore, Eddie Pleasant
Normally the Patriots go much heavier at safety. Given the talent at cornerback and linebacker I think that changes this year. And I hope, hope, hope that Richards is not included in the final roster this year.
Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones (PUP), Cyrus Jones, Duke Dawson, J.C. Jackson
Cuts: Jomal Wiltz, Ryan Lewis, Brandon King, Keion Crossen
A very versatile and competitive group. New “DC” Flores will have many chess pieces to craft the perfect coverage schemes. If Cyrus Jones does net get on the field and prove himself, he will lose his spot to Crossen or another returner.
Stephen Gostkowski (K), Joe Cardona (LS), Corey Bojorquez (P)
Cuts: Ryan Allen
A real live left-footed punter battle! Like a rare unicorn they will fight it out. Ultimately Bojorquez has to show better leg strength that can offset any learning curve to upset Allen.
There you have it folks! Undoubtedly this will crumble and collapse at the next Patriots practice and I will question life. But it is a fun exercise into a deep dive of a complex process. Be sure to comment and tell me how your favorite player is definitely making the roster.
All photos courtesy of Getty images unless noted otherwise.
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