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Breaking down Patriots' 53-man roster

8/30/2014

Breaking down the New England Patriots' 53-man roster:

QUARTERBACK (3)

Tom Brady

Jimmy Garoppolo

Ryan Mallett

Quick-hit thought: Could be the best depth chart, from top to bottom and with future upside in mind, in Bill Belichick's 15-year tenure.

RUNNING BACK (4)

Shane Vereen

James White

Stevan Ridley

Brandon Bolden

Quick-hit thought: Bolden brings notable special-teams value, while there could be times we see plenty of Vereen and White on the field together.

FULLBACK (1)

James Develin

Quick-hit thought: Hard-nosed player has earned everything he has coming to him.

TIGHT END (3)

Rob Gronkowski

Michael Hoomanawanui

Tim Wright

Quick-hit thought: Promising start for Wright in the preseason finale, as he looks like the better complement to Gronkowski in "12 personnel" (e.g. one back, two TEs).

WIDE RECEIVER (5)

Julian Edelman

Aaron Dobson

Danny Amendola

Brandon LaFell

Kenbrell Thompkins

Brian Tyms*

Quick-hit thought: Dobson's 50-snap performance Thursday night was a significant step in him being in position to help the team from the start of the regular season. Tyms doesn't count against the 53-man roster limit because of his four-game suspension.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

LT Nate Solder

LG Josh Kline

C Ryan Wendell

RG Dan Connolly

RT Sebastian Vollmer

OT/G Marcus Cannon

C Bryan Stork

OT/G Jordan Devey

OT Cameron Fleming

G/LT Chris Barker

Quick-hit thought: Unlike last year, when the Patriots were combing the waiver wire for developmental prospects, they ended up with a surplus in this all-important area.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE (6)

Vince Wilfork

Dominique Easley

Sealver Siliga

Chris Jones

Joe Vellano

Zach Moore

Quick-hit thought: After Wilfork, who remains the rock in the middle, it's a young group with high upside.

DEFENSIVE END/OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (5)

Chandler Jones

Dont'a Hightower

Rob Ninkovich

Michael Buchanan

Darius Fleming

Quick-hit thought: If Jones and Hightower are the top players on the edge, it could reduce Ninkovich's playing time (95 percent of the snaps last year).

INSIDE LINEBACKER (3)

Jerod Mayo

Jamie Collins

Chris White

Quick-hit thought: Looks a bit thin here and could be the area where the Patriots look closely at the waiver wire. Darius Fleming could add depth in this spot too.

CORNERBACK (5)

Darrelle Revis

Malcolm Butler

Logan Ryan

Alfonzo Dennard

Kyle Arrington

Brandon Browner*

Quick-hit thought: Belichick previously said that this is as deep of a group as he's had in recent memory. Next question: Who starts opposite Revis?

* Player doesn't count against the 53-man roster because of NFL suspension.

SAFETY (5)

Devin McCourty

Patrick Chung

Tavon Wilson

Duron Harmon

Nate Ebner

Quick-hit thought: Still a bit of a mystery as to how the safety spot next to McCourty will be handled, as there are a lot of options, including some cornerbacks who have seen time there.

SPECIALISTS (3)

P Ryan Allen

K Stephen Gostkowski

Captain Matthew Slater

Quick-hit thought: No snapper on the roster after the release of Danny Aiken, which would thrust Rob Ninkovich into that role unless the Patriots sign someone else or bring Aiken back. The Aiken release could be part of some initial roster management to preserve assets at other positions (e.g. Mallett, Barker) that the Patriots felt had value if they landed on the open market.