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Patriots projected 2017 starters are borderline unfair

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New England Patriots Victory Parade Photo by Michael J. Ivins/Getty Images

With the 2017 NFL Draft in the rearview and minicamps and OTAs about to kick off, it’s the perfect time of year to kill some time and waste some energy trying to predict the season to come. NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal recently took a stab at what he thought the 2017 starters would look like for the AFC East, and reading over his projections, it’s getting harder and harder not to get excited for September.

In regards to the Patriots, Rosenthal has the following players slated as starters, which I think is pretty accurate. He’s making the assumption that the Patriots will be operating out of a base 3WR set on offense and a 4-2-5 on defense, when in actuality they will likely be using a gameplan-specific group of starters, but in terms of who is most likely to take the field on Opening Day, this is fair.

Offense

QB: Tom Brady
RB: Mike Gillislee
WR: Julian Edelman
WR: Brandin Cooks
WR: Chris Hogan
TE: Rob Gronkowski
LT: Nate Solder
LG: Joe Thuney
C: David Andrews
RG: Shaq Mason
RT: Marcus Cannon

Defense

DE: Trey Flowers
DT: Malcom Brown
DT: Alan Branch
DE: Rob Ninkovich
LB: Dont'a Hightower
LB: Kyle Van Noy
CB: Malcolm Butler
CB: Stephon Gilmore
CB: Eric Rowe
S: Devin McCourty
S: Patrick Chung

The bottom line is that, from top to bottom, the 2017 Patriots are loaded. This roster doesn’t even factor in the players who didn’t crack this particular starting rotation - Dwayne Allen, Danny Amendola, Rex Burkhead, Kony Ealy, Duron Harmon Dion Lewis, Malcolm Mitchell, and James White, just to name a few. You could field a fifth AFC East team comprised completely of Patriots backups, and they’d likely still sweep the Jets.

There are those trying to say that New England is in win now mode and has completely mortgaged their future in an attempt to get Tommy B one or two more rings, but those folks seem to be ignoring the young talent who couldn’t crack this hypothetical lineup who also look to be contributing to the team this year. Not only to the Patriots have four fantastic prospects they acquired through the draft, but there is a lot of depth on this team in addition to tremendous versatility. September 7th can’t get here fast enough.