The New England Patriots currently have 89 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on September 1 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the offseason, we take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Today, the series continues with one of New England’s offensive linemen.
Name: Cole Croston
Position: Guard / Offensive tackle
Jersey number: 74
Opening day age: 24
Size: 6’5, 310 lbs.
2017 review: Coming off an inconsistent senior year that was dominated by injuries, Cole Croston went unselected during the 2017 draft. However, it did not long for the Iowa product to find a home in the NFL as the Patriots signed him to a free agent contract shortly afterwards. And while he entered New England as a long shot to make the team, Croston quickly established himself as a player to keep an eye on.
Following a solid training camp, the rookie saw plenty of snaps during preseason: playing at both guard and offensive tackle, Croston was on the field for 78.0% of New England’s offensive snaps (223 of 286). He appeared to be back at full strength while adapting well to life in the pros. And even though he played primarily against second and third string defenders, Croston did enough to earn a roster spot.
The versatile offensive lineman spent all of 2017 on the Patriots’ 53-man squad. And even though he saw only limited action – Croston was active for three games and played a combined eight offensive snaps –, he was still able keep his roster spot. Furthermore, he also earned practice player of the week honors twice. All in all, his rookie campaign can therefore be seen as a successful one.
2018 preview: Up until yesterday, Croston was probably on the outside looking in when it came to roster spot. After all, he had a rather quiet training camp while the team used equally versatile and higher-upside first-round rookie Isaiah Wynn as a primary backup option along the offensive line. With Wynn tearing his Achilles, however, Croston may have just received a push up the Patriots’ depth chart – and potentially onto the 53-man roster.
In order to make the team for a second straight year, however, the second-year man needs to get back onto the field soon: Croston did not play a single snap during Thursday’s preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles, despite no reported injury slowing him down. If the 24-year old does not return to the lineup quickly with Wynn out, his tenure on New England’s active squad might soon come to an end.
Unless he is indeed dealing with some undisclosed injury, though, it would be a surprise if Croston did not receive another shot with Wynn out for the year and starting right tackle Marcus Cannon fighting his way back from injury. Whether it comes in the form of a roster or practice squad spot remains to be seen. But as things stand today, the chances of Croston remaining on New England’s pay roll in some capacity appear to be solid.