The article posted about the battle at Defensive Tackle got me thinking: who do I want on this year's roster? So, I'm going to go through, position-by-position, and put together my ideal 2014 Patriots roster.
Quarterback (2): Tom Brady, Jimmy Garroppolo
Some want Mallett around as insurance in case Brady goes down. I don't. I think that Garroppolo would be just as good as Mallett, despite his lack of experience in the system. Mallett has done nothing to prove that he's even capable as an NFL backup quarterback, and some buffoon out there would likely give you a late round pick for him, and I'd take it.
Running back (4): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White, Roy Finch
Leaving Bolden off the roster might seem radical, but I think that his role would be insignificant enough that we might as well give it to White and Finch and see what they can do. Ridley should get another chance as the lead back, and Vereen should get a big role on third downs.
The depth here is good, with the only player who isn't a decent player being Slater, who's only here for his ST role.
This number increases if either Dustin Keller or Jermichael Finley is signed, but for now, this is what we're working with. LaFell is capable as a situational move guy, so the depth isn't as bad as it looks.
Due to salary issues and ineffectiveness, I leave Connolly and Wendell off the roster. Stork can't be worse than Wendell was, and Cannon has shown some big ability in flashes. If he can control the leg whips he occasionally brings out, I think he's a good right guard.
Total Number of Offensive Players: 25
My top 4 is as it is so that you can put out two similar tackle combinations with one being a step back from the other (Wilfork/Kelly to Siliga/Easley). I put either Armond Armstead (if he actually exists) or Chris Jones as an extra interior rushing presence.
Defensive End (5): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Will Smith, Michael Buchanan, Zach Moore
Chandler Jones is one of the best defensive ends in the game, and Ninkovich is one of the best playmakers in the game. Behind them, Smith, Buchanan, and Moore will all be solid situational contributors.
We have a fierce top three, but after that...it's not pretty. Anderson and Beauharnais are not bad players, but the quality of our depth is a little concerning. Not as bad as it seems when you factor in Rob Ninkovich's ability to play SAM, though.
This is one of the better positional groups on the team. When your fourth corner is Alfonzo Dennard, one of the better number two corners in the NFL, you know you're in good shape. Some will say Dennard deserves to be above Ryan but I respectfully disagree, as Logan Ryan, albeit in limited snaps, showed huge potential last year. He allowed the second lowest quarterback rating in the NFL (to Richard Sherman). Kyle Arrington remains a great slot corner and the improvement of this positional group allows him to stay inside.
Safety (5): Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Jemea Thomas
McCourty is still painfully underrated by the Boston media, and is truly one of the best safeties in the league. Harmon showed flashes toward the end of the year. Chung will be better than he was his last time here, due to the likely increase of single high safety looks this year, allowing him to roam the box and punish players like he should be. Thomas is a wild card to contribute, and at least a special teams player.
Total Number of Defensive Players: 25
Kicker (1): Stephen Gostkowski
Ghost is still one of the best kickers in the league.
Punter (1): Ryan Allen
Allen showed that he's a very good punter this past year. He should only get better in his second year.
Long Snapper (1): Tyler Ott
Originally had Charley Hughlett here, but turns out we released him, so Ott it is.
Total Number of Special Teams Players: 3 Total Number of All Players: 53
So there's my 53 man roster. Leave a comment if you'd like and tell me what you think!