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Taking a Look At the Patriots 90-Man Roster Part 2: Which Players Are Competing for Jobs?

41 players on the roster were identified as locks, see who may be competing for the final 12 spots on the potential 53-man roster.

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The first part of analyzing the Patriots Post-Draft Roster went over which players were considered locks to make the 53-man roster in September. The Patriots have 41 players I've already classified as locks to make the roster, although unforeseen circumstances could bump off one of the locks. Of the final 12 spots, the Patriots probably are looking at a lot of competition at the skill spots and the depth spots in their Front 7.

Running Backs: The Patriots will have Donald Brown, James White, and DJ Foster all competing for what will likely be the second receiving back spot and likely final spot for the position. All of them have shown to be solid pass catchers in college or in the NFL so far. Donald Brown has the best career as a rusher, as he's had successful seasons rushing the ball in the past. James White has been criticized fairly for not being able to run through tackles and often goes down on first contact. Foster is an interesting matchup RB that can line up all over the formation and is a favorable matchup against linebacker coverage. Even though Foster isn't great at running the ball either, he's a more gifted receiver than White out of the backfield in my opinion. I have Donald Brown winning the spot going into camp because of his ability to at least run the ball enough to keep defenses honest and his ability to play Special Teams.

Tight Ends: The Patriots have the Big 2 between Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, although depth behind them is also as important. Behind those two is Clay Harbor who is a move TE that can line up across the formation to create certain matchups against linebackers. The Patriots also have 2015 6th round project AJ Derby in addition to UDFAs Steven Scheu and Bryce Williams. I have James Develin listed as a lock on the roster even though he's a 20-25% snap player over the course of the season, so there realistically is only 1 spot open on the Patriots TE depth chart. The Patriots have the WR depth that if injuries affect the TE position that they will move to more 3 WR personnel groupings.

Receivers: With Danny Amendola restructuring his contract, he goes from potential cap casualty to a roster lock. That leaves only 1 likely roster spot open at the WR position and Keshawn Martin is the early favorite to win that spot due to his ability to play both on the boundary and in the slot. Devin Lucien is a very interesting flyer prospect that has solid speed, agility, and hands. The Patriots are probably done with Aaron Dobson due to his inability to stay on the field while 2nd year player Chris Harper could be a dark horse candidate for a roster spot. It would have to take a really bad preseason for Martin to lose his spot though.

Offensive Line: Barring a major turnaround for Marcus Cannon and/or Cameron Fleming, the Patriots will likely go into the season with only 3 tackles on the roster. Joe Thuney and Bryan Stork can play tackle in a pinch and I think the Patriots will keep a tackle on their eventual practice squad. When it comes to the guard equation, the first question is who starts at center between Thuney and Stork. Both are considered locks for the starting IOL lineup along with Shaq Mason. The Patriots used Josh Kline at both guard spots and he has preseason experience at center, so I like his chances of making the roster as a backup. Assuming the Patriots only carry 8 offensive linemen, the last spot comes down to 6th round pick Ted Karras and 2015 4th round pick Tre Jackson.

Defensive Tackle: The Patriots likely have one roster spot open, although I wouldn't be surprised if they wind up just going with four defensive tackles to start the season. The Patriots added Vincent Valentine in the draft and the team probably doesn't have much of a role for him in 2016. The Patriots brought in Frank Kearse and Markus Kuhn in the offseason to compete for a job, although I wouldn't be surprised if both players don't wind up making the roster. This is a case of the roster at the position being set barring unforeseen circumstances.

Edge Rusher: The Patriots could wind up keeping 5 edge players on their roster. Aside from Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, and Chris Long, the Patriots mainly have 2015 draft picks Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom behind them. Grissom has the better shot at making the roster due to his ability to contribute on Special Teams although Flowers is also an interesting player due to how well he performed in the preseason. Rufus Johnson is another interesting guy who played his way onto the roster last season before going on Injured Reserve fairly early in the season.

Linebacker: After the Big 3, the last one or two linebacker spots are wide open. The Patriots added Ramon Humber in free agency, drafted Kamu Grugier-Hill and Elandon Roberts in the 6th round, and added UDFA Chris Johnson to compete with Jonathan Freeny, who did not look comfortable playing middle linebacker last season. Of this group, I think KGH has the best shot at the roster because I see major Special Teams upside as well as his versatility to be a safety or a Moneybacker in Sub Packages, even though we've seen Patrick Chung play that role superbly. I have KGH taking the final spot.

Cornerback: The Patriots added veteran EJ Biggers to compete with 2015 7th round pick Darryl Roberts for a roster spot. Biggers is a career backup with plenty of starting experience across the board, although he doesn't have the upside that Roberts potentially has. Justin Coleman was the Patriots starting nickel and performed well in the role, although he'll have a tough competition with 2nd round pick Cyrus Jones at the spot in 2016. The Patriots signed Auburn CB Jonathan Jones, a shorter corner that ran a blazing 4.33 40, but an injury history and a very bad 2015 campaign ruined his draft stock. A former 2nd team All-SEC corner in a 2014 campaign that led to Auburn falling just short in the BCS championship game, Jones has shown he can be a very competitive player despite his lack of size and length. I think Roberts and Coleman take the final CB spots.

Safety: This position group is pretty much set in stone right now.

Special Teams: Long snapper Joe Cardona's potential availability is very much in the air right now. It could be a case where he's forced to choose between a football or a naval career. The Patriots retained all their other special teams stars this offseason.