One of the busiest periods of the NFL calendar is slowly coming to an end. With cutdown weekend almost over, we now know what the core of the 2018 New England Patriots’ roster looks like. Let’s check it out:
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. He was able to clear waivers, though, and get placed on the practice squad.
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 yesterday but could return at a later point.
Wide receiver (6): Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Amara Darboh, Chad Hansen, Matthew Slater
After cutdown day, wide receiver was the lightest position on the roster. New England has since added two more depth options through the waiver wire: Amara Darboh and Chad Hansen, two mid-round draft selections from 2017, were added to the team to give the Patriots additional bodies alongside the current top three, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson.
Tight end (3): Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister
Even with Ryan Izzo getting moved to season-ending injured reserve earlier today, 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. Ted Karras and LaAdrian Waddle did just that, while two more linemen – Cole Croston and James Ferentz – have been added to the practice squad after getting released yesterday.
Defensive tackle (4): Malcom Brown, Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler
Despite the release of former third-round draft pick Vincent Valentine, who joined New England’s practice squad earlier today, 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. Lawrence Guy projects to be more of a versatile wild card.
Defensive edge (6): Trey Flowers, Adrian Clayborn, Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers, Keionta Davis, Geneo Grissom
The defensive edge might be the most improved position group on New England’s roster when compared to the 2017 season: 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, but the former third-round draft pick has looked solid this summer.
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 similar to the one the Patriots fielded last year. Getting Dont’a Hightower back makes the whole group better, and Bentley’s emergence could give it another dimension when it comes to depth and versatility.
Cornerback (7): Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson, J.C. Jackson, Keion Crossen
One of the deepest position groups on the team, the Patriots opted to keep seven cornerbacks around after the standout performances of rookies J.C. Jackson and Keion Crossen. The two will provide valuable depth behind starting options Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe.
Safety (5): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Brandon King, Nate Ebner
With Jordan Richards now playing for the Atlanta Falcons, Jason McCourty could potentially fill his role as the fourth safety behind the starting trio of Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon. King, who is listed as a linebacker but wears a defensive back’s number, and Ebner will meanwhile play primarily on special teams.
Specialists (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona
With rookie punter Corey Bojorquez unable to challenge Ryan Allen during preseason and now with the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots elected to keep the same three specialists for another year. Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen and Joe Cardona have worked together since 2015.
Practice squad (8): Danny Etling, Vincent Valentine, Ralph Webb, Riley McCarron, Jomal Wiltz, Cole Croston, James Ferentz, Trent Harris
New England officially filled eight of its ten available practice squad spots today, using only players that have spent the entire summer with the Patriots. One of the two remaining open spots is expected to be filled by linebacker Harvey Langi further down the line.
Reserve/suspended (1): Julian Edelman
Edelman will start the season on the sidelines and return after the Patriots’ week four game to further solidify a wide receiver position in flux.
Injured reserve (7): Isaiah Wynn, Christian Sam, Ulrick John, Darren Andrews, Cody Hollister, Braxton Berrios, Ryan Izzo, Will Tye
While Ryan Izzo was on the initial 53-man team yesterday, he has been placed on injured reserve earlier today. Because the move happened before today’s 4:00 p.m. ET deadline, the rookie – just like the other players on injured reserve – is not eligible to return off the list later this season.