The NFL’s roster cut deadline has come and gone and the New England Patriots are now under the 53-man deadline. In fact, the team currently has only 52 players under contract, with one of them – rookie tight end Ryan Izzo – expected to be headed to injured reserve soon. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the Patriots’ first active roster of the season.
Quarterback (2): Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer
No surprises at the quarterback position: Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer were the clear-cut top two entering the year, with rookie Danny Etling not showing enough over the summer to warrant a spot on the active roster.
Running back (5): James White, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, Jeremy Hill, James Develin
One of the deepest positions on the roster, the running back corps appeared to be set in stone the moment Sony Michel suffered an injury in practice that allowed Jeremy Hill to see additional snaps and make the most out of them. Special teams ace Brandon Bolden has been released but could return at a later point.
Wide receiver (4): Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Matthew Slater
The lightest position on the team features only three pure wide receivers: Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson will all see plenty of playing time until fellow wide receiver Julian Edelman returns from his suspension, and moves to add more depth behind them should be expected over the next few days.
Tight end (4): Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister, Ryan Izzo
Even with Ryan Izzo expected to get moved to injured reserve, this is as solid a tight end group as any in the NFL – especially because of Rob Gronkowski. But even behind the league’s best player at the position, New England is deep with Dwayne Allen a strong blocker and Jacob Hollister a high-upside receiving option.
Offensive line (7): Trent Brown, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Ted Karras, LaAdrian Waddle
While the top five have been set since spring practices, the players behind them had to beat out their competition to earn spots on the team. While Ted Karras and LaAdrian Waddle did just that, New England could still add more backup options especially at offensive tackle.
Defensive tackle (4): Malcom Brown, Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler
Despite the release of former third-round draft pick Vincent Valentine, the Patriots have plenty of depth at the defensive tackle spot: Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton are the big run stuffers in the middle, with Adam Butler primarily a pass rusher. It will be interesting to see how the team uses Lawrence Guy this year.
Defensive edge (6): Trey Flowers, Adrian Clayborn, Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers, Keionta Davis, Geneo Grissom
Compared to last year, the defensive edge might be the most improved position group on New England’s roster: Adrian Clayborn, Derek Rivers and Keionta Davis were all not on the active team one year ago but project to play prominent snaps alongside Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise Jr. in 2018. The Patriots keeping Geneo Grissom around behind the top six is a minor surprise.
Linebacker (5): Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts, Nicholas Grigsby
Rookie Ja’Whaun Bentley being one of the top performers during the preseason is encouraging news for a linebacker corps that looks very similar to the one the Patriots fielded last year. Getting Dont’a Hightower back, however, makes the whole group better.
Cornerback (7): Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson, J.C. Jackson, Keion Crossen
Another particularly deep group, the Patriots opted to keep seven cornerbacks around. One of them, training camp standout J.C. Jackson keeps New England’s streak of undrafted free agents making the opening day roster alive: for the 15th straight year, an unselected rookie has survived cutdown day.
Safety (5): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Brandon King, Nate Ebner
While the group looks a bit thin on paper after the trade that sent Jordan Richards to the Atlanta Falcons yesterday, Jason McCourty could serve as an additional depth option behind the starting trio of Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon.
Specialists (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona
With rookie punter Corey Bojorquez unable to challenge Ryan Allen during preseason, the Patriots elected to keep the same three specialists for another year. Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen and Joe Cardona have worked together since 2015.