With the Patriots kicking off their preseason slate tonight against the Washington Redskins, we take a look at how their 53 man roster may look on opening day:
Quarterback (3): Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo
Heading into camp, I felt that Jimmy Garoppolo had a legitimate chance to knock off Ryan Mallett as the number two. It's been clear thus far in camp that Mallett is significantly better at this point. Barring a trade, that means the Patriots will keep three.
Running Back (4): Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White, James Develin
Brandon Bolden hasn't really flashed much this training camp, although that's not much of a surprise. White's emergence has made Bolden expendable. Plus, the Patriots can always keep a player like Stephen Houston on the practice squad and can call him up in case of an injury emergency. There's also no reason to cut Ridley, as he's still on his rookie contract and won't cost much to keep.
Wide Receiver (7): Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Matt Slater
Josh Boyce could be on the bubble, but I believe he stills offers too much upside to let go this early in his career (especially considering the cap savings the Patriots could gain by releasing Amendola next offseason). Dobson is the wildcard here. He could end up on the PUP list, although most still expect him to be ready to go by the end of the preseason.
Tight End (3): Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, D.J. Williams
With the Patriots trending back towards the 3-WR offense, it will be interesting to see if they plan on keeping three tight ends. Right now, assuming they do, D.J. Williams is the frontrunner for that spot. However, Asa Watson and Justin Jones are the two upside players worth monitoring this preseason.
Offensive Line (9): Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Marcus Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer, Josh Kline, Bryan Stork, Jon Halapio, Cameron Fleming
Ryan Wendell is the surprise veteran cut here, as it looks like the Patriots still prefer Dan Connolly to him, especially at the center position. The Patriots appear to be pretty deep along the interior line and at right tackle - but this is a bit of a necessity due to the young talent they are trying to develop. However, considering Cannon's ability to move out to right tackle, and both Sebastian Vollmer and Logan Mankins' ability to move to left tackle, having the prototype "swing" reserve tackle isn't a necessity for this roster.
Defensive End (5): Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Michael Buchanan, Will Smith, Zach Moore
Defensive Tackle (4): Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Sealver Siliga, Dominique Easley
Chris Jones is a tough cut here, but he'll likely stick if Sealver Siliga's had injury turns out to be serious and Domique Easley isn't cleared for action soon. Tommy Kelly has regained some momentum in the last week, and he's still a candidate to start. At defensive end, the Patriots will be thin if they only keep three bodies, and Zach Moore has flashed enough potential to stick.
Linebacker (6): Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, James Anderson, Steve Beauharnais, Chris White
The starters are all set at this position, and James Anderson has been as advertised in pass coverage in training camp. Steve Beauharnais has also made some strides since his "red shirt" rookie year, and Chris White sticks for special teams.
Cornerback (5): Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner (suspended), Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, Malcolm Butler
The Patriots keep an extra cornerback to begin the season in Malcolm Butler, due to the 4 game suspension of Brandon Browner to start the season. Other than the possible inclusion of a player like Butler (or Justin Green), this unit appears set.
Safety (5): Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner
Pat Chung and Tavon Wilson could be competing for one roster spot, although I have both of them sticking in this projection due to their special teams prowess.
Specialists (3): Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Danny Aiken (LS)
Thoughts: Tyler Ott could be pushing Danny Aiken for his job, but it's tough to tell. For now, I'll give the spot to the incumbent Aiken.
What are your thoughts on this roster projection? What changes would you make?