With NFL rosters needing to be cut to 53 players by tomorrow at 4:00 PM ET, we make a final prediction at what the Patriots' final roster might look like:
Quarterback (3): Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo
In the preseason finale, Jimmy Garoppolo showed Patriots fans some of why they should be excited with the rookie. He also showed that he was still a rookie. Because of that, the Patriots will let Mallett play out his contract.
Running Back (5): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White,
Jonas Gray, James Develin (FB)
The only big change here is the inclusion of Jonas Gray over Brandon Bolden. Like Bolden, Gray can contribute on special teams. He looks to be running the football more effectively right now as well. Ridley also sticks - he's far and away the team's best inside runner.
Last cut: Jonas Gray. The release of Gray leaves the Patriots thin at RB. However, he'll likely fall through waivers and would land back on the practice squad in this scenario.
Wide Receiver (6): Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Matt Slater
Bryan Tyms pushed hard for a spot and the team could choose to keep him through his suspension, but considering he would be away from the team anyways, I'm not sure that makes too much sense. Boyce and Gallon are the other notable cuts here. Boyce has some potential, but his disappearing act this training camp was too significant to warrant keeping him around another year. He does have practice squad eligibility.
Tight End (3): Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, Tim Wright
Tim Wright jumped onto the scene in the Patriots' season finale against the Giants, and he looks ready to play an h-back / joker role immediately. With Wright in the fold, the Patriots keep the extra tight end over receiver Josh Boyce.
Offensive Line (9): Nate Solder, Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, Marcus Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer, Josh Kline, Jordan Devey, Bryan Stork, Cameron Fleming
It's always possible Bill Belichick surprises us and cuts one of Dan Connolly or Ryan Wendell, but this group more than likely remains at nine, even though Cameron Fleming will be having a variation of a redshirt season.
Defensive End (4): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Zach Moore, Michael Buchanan
Although we don't yet have word on the severity of Michael Buchanan's ankle injury, we'll leave him on the roster. If he's out for significant time, that could open things up for Jake Bequette.
Defensive Tackle (5): Vince Wilfork, Dominique Easley, Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones, Joe Vellano
Joe Vellano could possibly see some time at defensive end, especially in 3-man fronts. He didn't play against the Giants last night, so his roster spot looks secure. Chris Jones is recovering from an ankle injury, but it doesn't appear to be season-threatening.
Linebacker (6): Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Ja'Gared Davis, Darius Fleming, Steve Beauharnais
There's been a shake-up in my linebacker projection over the last two weeks. Ja'Gared Davis takes over Chris White. Davis has been an equal on special teams and looks capable on defense. Fleming's ability to play the edge gives him a unique advantage in these projections. Beauharnais' ability to lead the huddle and play any linebacker spot make him a valuable part of this group as well.
Cornerback (6): Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, Alfonzo Dennard, Malcolm Butler
Butler is about as safe as an undrafted rookie can be in relation to his roster spot. This position is still very fluid, however. It's unclear who will start opposite Darrelle Revis during Browner's suspension as well as who will man the slot. Arrington, Ryan, and Dennard have all even seen time as safety during the preseason.
Safety (5): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner, Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon
I've held strong to my prediction of Pat Chung as starting strong safety since day one, and he looks like a very good bet to at least secure a roster spot at this point. Tavon Wilson also appears to have jumped Duron Harmon on the depth chart, but I don't see Harmon's roster spot being at high risk.
Specialists (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Danny Aiken
The Patriots could always take a look at another long snapper, but this group looks secure.