I always planned on doing a review of my 53-man roster projection for the New England Patriots to see if I could explain what I had missed, or what the coaches had in mind that was different from my expectation. The coaches know what they’re doing, so any difference in reality is likely rooted in some oversight on my part.
But I have to say that I think I did a pretty good job, with just two players glaringly incorrect: I had Ted Karras making the team over Cole Croston, and while I didn’t have either James O’Shaugnessy or Jacob Hollister on the team, I had O’Shaughnessy ahead of Hollister to make the team if Shea McClellin were placed on injured reserve (he was).
The Croston move was an oversight on my part. LT Nate Solder is just returning to practice after dealing with an injury, leaving Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming, and the also-injured LaAdrian Waddle as the other tackles on the roster. Croston can play both tackle and guard, while Karras can only play on the interior; the team needed more tackle depth for this point in time.
And then I had O’Shaughnessy ahead of Hollister due to his special teams value, but Hollister spent the preseason increasing his special teams snaps from 6 and 11 in the first two weeks to 23 and 16 in the final two. Perhaps the Patriots saw enough improvement from Hollister in the third phase to warrant his retention (in addition to his obvious offensive talents).
Alternatively, I think the Patriots trades during roster cuts allowed the team to keep Hollister because a lot of the moves focused on bolstering the special teams unit. With the acquisitions of special teams aces LB Marquis Flowers, CB Johnson Bademosi, and EDGE Cassius Marsh, maybe the Patriots had a reduced need for a tight end to star on special teams.
Those are also the trades that wrecked my roster projection. While the Flowers trade had already happened, I had no way to predict the trades for Bademosi and Marsh, along with WR Phillip Dorsett.
Bademosi took the roster spot that I had left for CB Justin Coleman. Coleman was essentially shipped to the Seattle Seahawks for EDGE Cassius Marsh, who subsequently took the roster spot I left for EDGE Geneo Grissom. Grissom is now on the Patriots practice squad.
So the decision between Croston and Karras likely came down to the depth at tackle, while the team’s focus on acquiring special teams players allowed them to take the more offensively talented Hollister over the special teams stud O’Shaughnessy.