Over the past five seasons, the New England Patriots have held between nine and eleven defensive backs on the roster, and this year shouldn't be any different. While the players on the depth chart might not of the same caliber as those in the past, there is still a clear need for these spots to be filled.
Smart money would be on a cornerback not currently on the Patriots roster making the opening week roster- but if we evaluate the New England depth chart as it currently stands, we see a fair grouping of roster locks, bubble players, and camp bodies.
Safety: Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards
Cornerback: Bradley Fletcher, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler
This depth chart seems set in stone based upon contract value, draft position, or the fact that New England would riot if Butler didn't at least make the opening day roster. McCourty and Chung just received new contracts fit for starting safeties, while Fletcher received an incentive-laden deal that implies he's a legitimate contender for a starting role.
Harmon and Ryan are both entering their third seasons and both shows enough as sophomores to warrant a roster spot as third-years, as Ryan could be a starting cornerback and Harmon was generally the third safety on the field.
Richards is a second round pick and as much of a roster lock as it gets, while Butler is a gosh darn New England hero.
Safety: Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner
Cornerback: Robert McClain
The selection of Richards has put Wilson's spot in jeopardy, and Ebner's ability as a core-four special teamer might not be valuable enough with all of the other depth at safety on the roster.
McClain seems likely to make the roster as he takes over the slot for the recently departed Kyle Arrington. The fact that there's only four corners that seem likely to make the roster will likely lead to another veteran addition after teams start cutting players.
Safety: Brandon King
Cornerback: Darryl Roberts, Justin Green, Daxton Swanson, Jimmy Jean, Eric Patterson
Most of these players are practice squad players, at best, although Green was called up to the big leagues against the Broncos in 2013. Swanson was a camp favorite and Roberts is considered a steal in the 7th round by Pro Football Focus, which gave him a 2nd round grade.
It's very possible that one of these three corners, or any of the other camp bodies, makes the Patriots roster as one of the nine or ten defensive backs. If they make it, it will likely be the result of on-field production during the camps, and whether or not they outplay whatever veteran New England signs aboard.