Predicting the Newest Patriots' Uniform Numbers

Football is a numbers game. It is also a game where players wear numbers.

As is my duty, it's time for another offseason prediction. Instead of the draft, however, where nobody ever gets it right, this is a topic where I have a reasonable chance of getting at least one right: predicting players' jersey numbers.

The Patriots are always the last team in the league to reveal their newest players' new digits, a tactic which undoubtedly annoys players looking to buy their latest favorite player's jersey, but one that I doubt Bill Belichick will disperse with any time soon. Belichick has added to this strategy by not assigning official rookie numbers until the first preseason game, giving rookies numbers in the 50s, 60s, and 70s (the numerical order following draft picks by selection, then UDFAs alphabetically) during camp.

Doesn't mean we can't have some fun with numbers.

Here are my predictions for the digits that will be worn by the players new to Foxboro in 2022.

Already known:

Terrance Mitchell, CB: 39 (confirmed by a reporter on social media)

Ty Montgomery, WR/RB: 14 (confirmed by an image on Nelson Agholor's social media)

DeVante Parker, WR: 11 (confirmed by the same image as above)

Jabrill Peppers, S: 3 (confirmed on social media)

Mack Wilson, LB: 30 (confirmed on social media)

Offseason veteran additions:

Malcolm Butler, CB: 27 - Butler's old #21 belongs to Adrian Phillips, so for now I'll give him another classic cornerback number.

Drew Desjarlais, G: 61 - Desjarlais wore #61 in the CFL. He can have it in the NFL too.

Arlington Hambright, G: 63 - Hambright has worn #71 and #53 in the NFL. The Patriots usually have given 60s numbers to interior linemen and 70s numbers to tackles (though there have been exceptions), so I'll keep the trailing digit from his most recent number and go with 63.

Malcolm Perry, WR: 80 - Perry wore #19 during his tenure on New England's practice squad (and briefly active roster) last season. I want to give it back to him, but I need a number in the 10s later on, so 80 it is.

Matt Sokol, TE: 88 - Sokol has only worn numbers in the 40s when with the Lions, and I need both available 40s numbers later. The Patriots have plenty of 80s numbers available, however, so I'm going with the tight-end-iest.

Draft picks:

Cole Strange, G: 69 - Strange gets his college number; "Strange 69" jerseys become a bestseller.

Tyquan Thornton, WR: 19 - Thornton wore #81 and #9 in college, both of which are worn by current Patriots (Jonnu Smith and Matthew Judon, respectively). Wide receivers more commonly wear 10s numbers and single digits in the NFL right now than 80s numbers; I have other plans for #4, so I'll match the college digit and go with 19.

Marcus Jones, CB: 25 - Only one 20s number, and two cornerbacks to offer it to. By virtue of being the earlier pick, I'll give it to Jones... that is, the third-round Jones.

Jack Jones, CB: 35 - As for the fourth-round Jones, I don't really like any of the existing options for a cornerback, so I'm really guessing blindly. I'm going with #35 solely because I remember Cre'Von LeBlanc's successful preseason, though 47 could be a sleeper pick here. (If only the NFL allowed 0...)

Pierre Strong Jr., RB: 34 - Classic RB number.

Bailey Zappe, QB: 4 - The Stidham trade opens up Zappe's college number.

Kevin Harris, RB: 36 - Harris is a bigger back, so he could use a bruising-type number, and 36 evokes Jerome Bettis.

Sam Roberts, DL: 96 - Roberts' collegiate #98 is worn by Carl Davis, so let's keep him in the 90s, where there is only one available number.

Chasen Hines, G: 67 - It's a shame #57 is retired in New England, otherwise the collegiate number pairing of "Hines 57" would be too perfect to pass up on. I'll keep the last digit and go with 67.

Andrew Stueber, T: 74 - As mentioned earlier, the Patriots usually give 70s numbers to tackles and 60s numbers to interior lineman. Stueber is a tackle, and there is one 70s number left.

Undrafted rookies:

Devin Hafford, CB: 47 - Eventually I'd end up with a CB wearing 47. With only 47 and 43 available for DBs, Hafford gets the higher one.

Jake Julien, P: 13 - I've only got one punter-eligible number left.

D'Eriq King, QB/WR: 13 - I've also only got one QB-eligible number left. They can share.

DaMarcus Mitchell, ED: 53 - I'm limited to 50s numbers for edge guys (I need 43 later). At this point it's really guessing.

LaBryan Ray, DL: 50 - It's a shame defensive linemen aren't allowed 80s numbers. 50 will have to do.

Kody Russey, C: 64 - Russey's collegiate 65 is worn by James Ferentz; given the choice to go one up or one down, I have gone one down, for reasons seen later.

Brenden Schooler, S: 43 - Last DB number left.

Liam Shanahan, C: 66 - Shanahan wore #56 at LSU, so I'm keeping his trailing digit and shifting Russey down to #64.

It will probably be a while before we learn how inaccurate these guesses are, but this too is all in good fun.

Here's to oddball numbers, oddball players, and this oddest of offseasons indeed. Slainte!

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