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Just How Deep Are the 2017 Patriots?

Could the 2017 Patriots field a viable starting lineup using only backups?

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have been extremely active this offseason, signing key free agents, trading draft picks for guaranteed assets, and stocking up on both sides of the ball. One of the major offseason storylines thus far is how much roster depth the Patriots have at this point.

But just how deep are they?

Even though the Patriots employ a plethora of offensive and defensive packages, there have been a few predictions as to what the 2017 starting lineup looks like, and this team looks scary. However, I wanted to test that depth by seeing if I could field a starting 22 using only backups/players not slated to be in the starting lineup. Below is what I think the Patriots opening day lineup would look like if every single slated Patriots starter got suspended for the entire season for maybe, possibly being generally aware that Gisele Bundchen might be going on a talk show to conceivably mention that Tom Brady may have gotten hit in the head a few times last year.


LT: Cameron Flemming
Ted Karras
C: James Ferentz
Jamil Douglas
LaAdrian Waddle
Jimmy Garoppolo
RB:James White
RB: Rex Burkhead
TE: Dwayne Allen
WR: Danny Amendola
Malcolm Mitchell

Analysis: Overall, not a horrible offense. Jimmy G could face some protection problems, particularly up the middle and through the right A Gap, but that's why we're operating out of a two back set here; hopefully Burkhead can be an extra blocker, and White is a great checkdown back. Mitchell is a solid receiver and represents a nice compliment to Danny Amendola, and Dwayne Allen can chip in to block against heavy pressure as well as represent a red zone threat. You could also add in Devin Street as a 3rd WR, taking Burkhead out if you want some extra size along the edges.


DE: Derek Rivers
DT: Vincent Valentine
DT: Woodrow Hamilton
DE: Kony Ealy
LB: Shea McClellin
LB: Elandon Roberts
CB: Justin Coleman
CB: Cyrus Jones
CB: Jonathan Jones
S: Duron Harmon
S: Jordan Richards

Analysis: If Rivers is the draft steal everyone is making him out to be, that's two very solid edge rushers to compliment two players coming into their sophomore season, both of whom made positive contributions to the team last year. McClellin and Roberts both fit in very well as LBs in the Patriots system, and Duron Harmon makes a nice anchor to a secondary with boom-or-bust-potential; every cornerback on the above list has both flashed excellence and been a huge liability. But considering this is the all-backup team, we could do a whole lot worse.

Overall: Honestly, I'd put this roster up against maybe half of the NFL right now. They likely wouldn't beat the upper tier teams in the league, but they wouldn't go 0-16 either. If these were the players the Patriots have to roll with in 2017, I don't think that 8-8, maybe even 9-7, is an insane prediction to make. As Jon Gruden would say, that's wild.