With roster cutdown weekend over and the focus fully on the regular season opener, the New England Patriots have finally announced the new jersey numbers for their rookie class (at least for those on the 53-man roster). Let us therefore use this opportunity to dig a little deeper and find out who previously donned the nine new numbers that were made public on Monday.
Let’s start with the lowest number handed out by the team.
35 — S Kyle Dugger
Most recently worn by: Keion Crossen
Most famously worn by: Jim Nance
The Patriots’ highest draft pick this season will wear the lowest number among the nine rookies currently on the active team. No. 35 may not be one of the team’s most storied numbers — the likes of Jonas Gray, Mike Gillislee and Patrick Pass are among those to don it — but it was worn by one of the best players in franchise history: between 1965 and 1971, Jim Nance called it his and rushed for 5,323 yards as well as 45 touchdowns in 94 games with the organization.
42 — RB J.J. Taylor
Most recently worn by: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Most famously worn by: Mack Herron
J.J. Taylor’s new number was worn by quite a few impressive players in the past. Don Webb played 134 games between 1961 and 1971 wearing it, Ronnie Lippett in 126 — including New England’s first Super Bowl — from 1983 to 1991, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 57 between 2008 and 2011. The most famous ex-Patriot to wear it, however, might be “Mini” Mack Herron: while his tenure with the club came to an unceremonious end midway through the 1975 season, he was an outstanding player for two years and did enough to make the Patriots’ Team of the 1970s. Like Taylor, by the way, he was listed at 5-foot-5.
44 — TE Dalton Keene
Most recently worn by: Jonathan Freeny
Most famously worn by: Don Calhoun
Dalton Keene’s new number is not exactly a famous one in New England, with only a handful of players really standing out. The most productive among them might be Don Calhoun, who spent seven seasons with the team and appeared in 94 games from 1975 through 1981. John Stephens had some solid seasons as Calhoun’s successor in the late 80s, but other than the two and maybe fullback Heath Evans the No. 44 cupboard is pretty bare.
46 — LB Cassh Maluia
Most recently worn by: James Develin
Most famously worn by: James Develin
For the last seven seasons, the Patriots’ No. 46 jersey was worn by possibly the best fullback of his generation: James Develin won three Super Bowls and was named to New England’s Team of the 2010s. He is, however, the only player to wear his number really worth talking about. Maybe Cassh Maluia can add another name to list of noteworthy 46s in New England.
53 — LB Josh Uche
Most recently worn by: Kyle Van Noy
Most famously worn by: Chris Slade
As opposed to 46, 53 does have a long history with the Patriots. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy played an important role in two Super Bowl victories wearing it, Larry Izzo was a special teams captain for three others, ad Tom Addison appeared in 108 games in the 1960s. That is not the most wearing the No. 53 jersey, though: Chris Slade, a second-round draft pick in 1993, donned it for eight seasons and 134 games. A one-time Pro Bowler, he was named to the team’s All-1990s team.
58 — LB Anfernee Jennings
Most recently worn by: Jamie Collins Sr.
Most famously worn by: Pete Brock
Another number worn by a rookie linebacker, another number with a long history. Whether it was Jamie Collins last year, Matt Chatham between for three Super Bowl campaigns in the early 2000s, or Marty Moore in the mid 1990s, linebackers have always fared well putting the No. 58 jersey on. Its most famous wearer, however, is an offensive lineman: between 1976 and 1987, Pete Brock played 162 games for the Patriots. He may have started only 94 of them, but he was a reliable presence along New England’s O-line during a successful time in franchise history.
71 — G Michael Onwenu
Most recently worn by: Danny Shelton
Most famously worn by: Ray Hamilton
While offensive linemen were able to proudly wear No. 71 in the past — from Don Oakes to Todd Rucci to Russ Hochstein to Cameron Fleming — the defensive tackles donning it cannot be forgotten either. Brandon Deaderick, Sealver Siliga and Danny Shelton may have been only role players during their time in New England, but Ray Hamilton was a prominent member of some of the best teams in franchise history: he played 134 games for the organization from 1973 to 1981.
75 — OT Justin Herron
Most recently worn by: Ted Karras
Most famously worn by: Vince Wilfork
Ted Karras did No. 75 proud. So did George McGee, Jess Richardson, Bob Cryder and Guy Morriss. When it comes to the number, however, one player stands above the rest: Vince Wilfork arrived in New England as a first-round pick in 2004 and wore the jersey in two Super Bowl-winning seasons while establishing himself as one of the best defensive tackles of his era. A member of both the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team and Team of the 2000s, he will soon be entered into the club’s Hall of Fame as well.
86 — TE Devin Asiasi
Most recently worn by: A.J. Derby
Most famously worn by: Stanley Morgan
While it did not see much success recently, Devin Asiasi’s new jersey number has seem some famous players wear it. David Patten won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, while Tony Romeo played 77 games as No. 86. The most famous 86 in franchise history, however, is Stanley Morgan. One of the most underrated pass catchers of his time, he played 187 games for the Patriots and posted some outstanding numbers along the way: including his seven postseason contests, Morgan caught 552 passes for 10,654 yards and 70 touchdowns.