Later this week, the New England Patriots will kick off their 2017 preseason against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In preparation for the game, the two teams will hold joint practices over the course of the next few days. The Patriots' preparation goes beyond the practice fields, however, and extends into the media relations department.
Therefore, the team released its first unofficial depth chart earlier today. Via NESN's Zack Cox, let's take a look at it:
When taking a look at the picture above, a few things stand out.
Rookies are listed down the depth chart
An argument can be made that third round draft pick Antonio Garcia should be listed higher among the offensive tackles on the roster than bubble player LaAdrian Waddle. However, as has been the case in the past, rookies are typcially listed lower on the depth chart. This does not necessarily reflect their respective standing on the roster but rather their status as draft picks or undrafted free agents.
Recently acquired wide receiver K.J. Maye stands above Devin Lucien
Second-year wide receiver Devin Lucien has had a tremendous training camp so far. While it would still be a surprise to see him make the Patriots' 53-man roster, he has established himself – together with rookie Austin Carr – as the best option outside of the “big six”. Consequently, it is a surprise to see K.J. Maye, he who is on the roster for a little more than a week, listed ahead of Lucien.
Mike Gillislee is listed as only the fifth running back on the team
Equally surprising is the standing of Mike Gillislee. The first-year Patriot was one of the team's top offseason acquisitions and is projected to serve as the team's number one running back come the regular season. Still, the media relations department lists him behind four other running backs – one of which, Brandon Bolden, is a potential cut-candidate.
Linebacker David Harris is seen as a starter
Long-time New York Jet David Harris was unceremoniously released by his former team this offseason and subsequently joined the Patriots as a free agent. And while the team lists him as a starter at this point in time, it seems more realistic that he plays a rotational role alongside Dont'a Hightower – sharing snaps with Elandon Roberts, Shea McClellin and Kyle Van Noy depending on the situation.
Justin Coleman and Jordan Richards are top backups in the secondary
Before training camp, both Justin Coleman and Jordan Richards were seen as players on the roster bubble. However, they have had some solid practice performances over the past two weeks. Will it ultimately be enough to keep their depth chart standing as the fourth options at cornerback and safety, respectively? Possibly not.
Cyrus Jones is only the number three kick returner
After muffing one of the first kicks sailing towards the second-year man, Cyrus Jones has been rock-solid when it comes to fielding kicks. Still, the Patriots list the 2016 second-round draft pick as only the third option at both kickoff returner and punt returner. Seeing him behind Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola on punt returns makes some sense but it would be a surprise if Matthew Slater was actually ahead of him on kickoffs.
On Thursday, the Patriots will play their first game of the season. And while it is a meaningless affair for the standings, it should give more insight into how accurate the depth chart above actually is.