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New England Patriots 2016 depth chart and team needs after final 53-man roster cuts

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Here is the projected Patriots depth chart according to the original 53-man roster.

The New England Patriots are ready to move on to the regular season and they have to be pretty happy with the depth.

Quarterback

1. Jimmy Garoppolo
2. Jacoby Brissett

The Patriots will be without QB Tom Brady for the first four games of the season, but he should slide back into the starting line-up in week 5 and, barring a surprise injury, all three will remain on the roster.

Running back

1. LeGarrette Blount
2. Brandon Bolden

Blount won the starting job and Bolden looked as good as ever this preseason, outside of his red zone fumble. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots added a running back to the practice squad for emergencies, but I would be surprised if the team added another rusher to the active roster.

Receiving back

1. James White
2. D.J. Foster

White will be “the guy”, but I’m interested to see how the Patriots manage Foster’s growth and ability to run between the tackles. Foster proved he was a dynamic receiver out of the backfield and perhaps the weak wide receiver depth will allow him to reach the field.

Fullback

1. James Develin

No comment necessary.

Z wide receiver

1. Julian Edelman
2. Danny Amendola

Edelman is still getting rid of the rust, but he should be back to his old form by the time Tom Brady returns to the field. Hopefully Amendola’s health comes back soon, or else this move-receiver position is going to need some help.

X wide receiver

1. Chris Hogan
2. Malcolm Mitchell

I wouldn’t be overly surprised if Hogan was the team’s leading receiver this year, just based on the fact that he’s the only healthy wide receiver on the roster. Mitchell is working his way back from his elbow dislocation. Hogan’s ability to align everywhere in the formation allows the Patriots to add some depth to this position, too.

Y tight end

1. Rob Gronkowski
2. AJ Derby

Gronkowski will be a sight for sore eyes in week 1 against the Cardinals and his presence should open up the field for the offense. Derby looks like a rising star and could be a valuable receiver thanks to his rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo.

F tight end

1. Martellus Bennett
2. Clay Harbor

Bennett is at his best when he can be a mismatch receiver, while Harbor can line up anywhere in the offense. These two will set up on the line of scrimmage, too, but they’ll move around the formation far more than Gronkowski and Derby. There is no need for more tight ends on the roster.

Offensive tackle

1. Nate Solder
2. Marcus Cannon
3. Cameron Fleming
4. LaAdrian Waddle

Fleming outperformed Waddle this preseason and received a lot more playing time. I would expect that he will take the field as the 6th offensive lineman from time to time, too. The Patriots could use some serious help at the position.

Interior offensive line

1. Joe Thuney
2. David Andrews
3. Shaq Mason
4. Jonathan Cooper
5. Josh Kline
6. Ted Karras

Thuney and Andrews have two starting jobs, while Mason should be the starting guard when he returns- of course Cooper might have something to say about that. The Patriots played Kline late in the final preseason game, which isn’t a good sign, and Karras looks like he’s holding a spot until Mason and Cooper regain their health. The depth is fine here.

Edge defender

1. Jabaal Sheard
2. Chris Long
3. Trey Flowers

Rob Ninkovich could join this position when he returns from his suspension, but this trio flashed some serious ability during the preseason. Flowers is the future at the position and he’ll see an expanded role. The Patriots can also play some of their linebackers here, so the depth is great.

Defensive tackle

1. Malcom Brown
2. Alan Branch
3. Vincent Valentine
4. Anthony Johnson

Brown and Johnson are the penetrators, while Branch and Valentine are the space eaters. These players all complement each other and should provide a nice rotation. There isn’t a great need for depth here, although one injury changes the equation.

Linebacker

1. Jamie Collins
2. Dont’a Hightower
3. Shea McClellin
4. Jonathan Freeny
5. Barkevious Mingo
6. Elandon Roberts

Hopefully Mingo will leapfrog Freeny in the early weeks of the season, but Freeny has the current edge based on playing time and experience. The starting trio are versatile enough that if one of them suffers an injury, the other two will move positions so Freeny can be the middle linebacker. No depth needed.

Cornerback

1. Malcolm Butler
2. Logan Ryan
3. Cyrus Jones
4. Justin Coleman
5. Jonathan Jones

The youth and potential at this position is staggering and should be a lot of fun to watch develop over the next year. There’s no need to add anyone else, unless the team feels like adding an experienced veteran.

Safety

1. Devin McCourty
2. Patrick Chung
3. Duron Harmon
4. Jordan Richards

The Patriots have terrific depth at the safety spot as the Patriots can use three safety sets to counter both wide receiver and tight end heavy sets. This could be the strongest unit on the Patriots.

Special teams

1. Matthew Slater
2. Nate Ebner
3. Brandon King

This trio will hold down the all-important special teams unit. There is no need for depth after the Patriots released possible special teams star Kamu Grugier-Hill.

Specialists

K. Stephen Gostkowski
P. Ryan Allen
LS. Mean Joe Cardona

The Patriots didn’t think it necessary to bring in challengers this offseason. This group is fine.


Major depth needs

1. Wide receiver
2. Offensive tackle

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots acquired an extra body at either position via trade in the next couple of weeks because the depth here is nerve-wracking.

Minor depth needs

1. Running back
2. Defensive tackle

The Patriots don’t need an immediate body here, but look for the team to add a player to the practice squad so they can learn the playbook and the offense in case Blount or a defensive tackle goes down with an injury.