Hello Pats Pulpit, I know everyone here is waiting for the season to start. Last year I made a few fanposts as part of a sports journalism class I was taking in high school and found that I really enjoyed writing posts on this blog. You'll probably be seeing more of me this year. I got some great feedback from you guys. So here is my too early 53-man roster (In depth chart order)
QB: Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo (3)
No surprises here. Jimmy redshirts as long as Ryan Mallett isn't traded which I don't think will happen based on the lack of interest from other teams.
FB: James Develin (1)
Seems to be a favorite of the Patriots although it appears that he has a limited upside. Has practiced at TE in OTAs so he could see some snaps there too.
RB: Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, James White (4)
Bolden spells Ridley and White backs up Vereen. Given Vereen's extensive injury history during each of his three years, the Pats may want to think about keeping Roy Finch on the practice squad as another insurance 3rd down back. Also the Patriots have been experimenting with 2 RB alignments so Bolden/Vereen and Vereen/White backfields may not be that far fetched.
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanamanui, D.J. Williams (3)
I'm placing Gronk on the active roster not because he'll be ready week 1. He won't be. I envision either a Week 3 return on MNF against the Chiefs or a SNF games versus the Bengals, both difficult games. Develin can be this year's Matthew Mulligan. I also think that this might be the year that D.J. Williams finally displays the explosiveness that he demonstrated in college in the NFL. Lastly, In general I've been very high on undrafted TEs (Last year I had Sudfeld starting and Brandon Ford on the PS) but they seem to rarely work out and I don't see any of them making the roster. Only 6'8 behemoth Justin Jones makes the PS.
I don't see Jeremy Gallon impacting the Patriots much. In the slot he's behind Amendola and Boyce. in the Return game he is behind Boyce and Edelman. The Patriots will still try to stuff him on the practice squad though and hope another team doesn't snatch him. I'm also not too big on LaFell. With issues regarding drops, I see him only as a red zone threat as a 10-20 snap per game guy. Dobson is the guy on this list that needs to take the biggest leap from last year and prove himself as a legitimate X receiver.
With all of Ryan Wendell's struggles last year, I don't see him worthy of a roster spot anymore. By sliding Connolly back to center, that allows Marcus Cannon to enter the lineup, which in my opinion is a upgrade. Josh Kline and Josh Barker make the PS as the top emergency reserves.
Tommy Kelly is a surprise cut. He has a 1.8 million dollar cap hit and I don't think he's going to be an impact player at age 34 coming off a torn ACL. The Pats need to get younger at DT, not older. Joe Vellano was serviceable last year, but not a top 5 DT anymore. I don't think think he has PS eligibility so I guess he has to be released.
Bequette gets one last shot to crack the DE rotation. If he can't by week 4, I can see him being released to make room for Browner. Michael Buchanan doesn't seem to be an impact player based on his benching in favor of Andre Carter last year.
Big year for Hightower and Collins. They must prove they can be starting caliber LBs and anchor a newly improved defense. They have little room for error because there is very little depth behind them.
Probably the Patriots strongest unit (sounds strange saying it) once Browner returns. Logan Ryan is too talented to be 4th on the depth chart so look for him to play some safety or rotate with the oft injured Dennard. Justin Green makes the PS.
Safety: Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner (4)
Chung will play a heavy role on special teams and maybe play the heavy hitting in the box safety role that the Patriots envisioned for Adrian Wilson last season. Other than that no real surprises other the Tavon Wilson omission but his play has been horrible. Ebner stays because of his low salary and high level of play on special teams but is another candidate to get cut when Browner returns Week 5.
None of the three have the bloated cap figures or poor performances to warrant a change.
Feel free to respond below.