The 2013 NFL season is coming soon. As the Patriots draw closer to their preseason opener against the Eagles next Sunday, I've decided to compile a list of the players that I think will make the 53-man roster.
Now before you close this window out of disgust, let me explain my reasoning. First off, I am not a fan of Tim Tebow; in fact I think Ryan Mallet is better quarterback now than Tebow will ever be. But we all know that Mallett will not get a chance to start until Brady retires, at the earliest in 2017 after his extension. Simply holding onto Mallett for 4 more years isn't practical: in 2017 he would be a Brandon Weeden-esque 29 years old. So trade him to a team like the Bears who still haven't extended Jay Cutler or the Seahawks who lack an established back-up. The Pats could end up with a 4th or 5th round pick. Tebow makes the team just because of his versatility and his ability to convert short yardage plays as well as 2 point conversions. And although Bill Belichick remains tight lipped as always regarding Tebow's role, we all know he will line up in positions other than QB if he makes the team. And if Tom Brady suffers a season ending injury, having Tim Tebow as our back-up will allow us the chance to draft a top 10 pick in 2014.
Blount vs Bolden is the main competition here but I think that both will make the team. Blount will get the majority of the 4th RB reps on game day and Bolden will probably be inactive most games. However, Bolden showed enough potential last year to earn a spot. George Winn makes the PS.
FB: Michael Hoomanawanui (1)
Technically a tight end but will end up being the starting fullback too. He did a nice job playing fullback last year and there's really no reason for the Pats to have more than one.
As usual Slater will rarely see the field. Michael Jenkins' already fading chances of making the team were hurt even more by his recent hamstring injury. Kenbrell Thompkins lands on the practice squad: despite a strong preseason so far, I cant see him making a bigger impact than Edelman, at least for this season. After a year, we can unleash him.
Fells is a surprise cut because of the emergence of Sudfeld. Brandon Ford lands on the practice squad to provide depth in case Ballard re-injures his knee. And Gronk can rest peacefully until week 7 when he can begin his season by dominating the Jets on their home turf.
Following the slightly surprising release of Nick McDonald, this position is pretty set in stone. One of the leagues best offensive lines last year, the Pats keep all of their starters. Svitek beats out Tyrone Green for the final backup spot.
I was very hesitant to include Cunningham but I bet the Patriots will give him one last shot to display his second-round talent. If he struggles early in the season Jason Vega could replace him from the practice squad. Marcus Bernard has also impressed in the preseason and the Pats will keep him with the hopes that he will be 2013 version of Mark Anderson in 2011 and Trevor Scott last year.
This was probably the easiest unit to predict because no one is really pushing the top 4. Cory Grissom has shown flashes of potential and probably ends up of the practice squad.
Cutting our second best ST guy in Niko Koutouvides is tough but the Patriots could always bring him back like they did last year. Also look for to play Adrian Wilson to play a little LB in sub packages.
The Patriots have arguably their best lineup of cornerbacks since Asante Samuel left. However, to maximize their potential, Talib needs to be a leader and set a good example as the #1 CB, Dennard just needs to stay out of trouble, and Ras-IR needs to avoid the IR. Justin Green makes the practice squad.
Steve Gregory is a surprise cut with all of the young depth. Ebner never sees the field outside of ST and Harmon plays as sparingly as Tavon Wilson did last year.
Everyone returns from last year.
Practice squad: Brandon Ford, Jason Vega, George Winn, Cory Grissom, Justin Green, Kenbrell Thompkins, Michael Buchanan, Chris McDonald
At least half of these members could make an impact next season or even this season if pressed into action.