New England Patriots: 2014 AFC Roster Projection

New England Patriots' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
10:30
AM ET
Examining the New England Patriots' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Garoppolo has made a serious run at the No. 2 job, putting Mallett's spot in jeopardy. Mallett sticks here because Bill Belichick has previously talked about how quarterback is one position where a team can never have enough depth.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Played a hunch at this spot last week with Ridley and looks like that was off the mark. Haven't seen enough spark from White to move away from Ridley.

FULLBACKS (1)

That he was held out of the preseason finale speaks to the valuable contributor that he has become.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

If the preseason finale is any indication, with Wright playing 43 of 70 snaps (including penalties), the former Buccaneer is going to be a significant part of the team's plans.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Haven't seen enough from Josh Boyce to warrant giving him a roster spot. Wonder if there would be any trade interest there.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

The Logan Mankins trade came down so quickly on Tuesday, it reshapes the look of this group significantly. Chris Barker, Jon Halapio and/or Braxston Cave are strong practice squad candidates.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Vellano's standing was reflected in that he didn't play in the preseason finale, which probably means he has earned a spot. Jerel Worthy to the practice squad?

LINEBACKERS (6)

Beauharnais has been back and forth between the roster and practice squad in past projections, but his value in leading the defense is deemed important in the final projection, especially with Mayo and Hightower dealing with ailments that have kept them off the field.

CORNERBACKS (6*)

Because Browner is suspended for the first four regular-season games, he won't count against the initial 53-man roster limit. But he is included here because he is obviously a significant part of the team's overall planning for the 2014 season. Butler, an undrafted free agent from West Alabama, was the surprise story of the preseason. Now the question is who starts opposite Revis.

SAFETIES (4)

In an unexpected twist, it looks like Chung and Wilson could provide more value to the team from a defensive/special teams standpoint than Duron Harmon, who is eligible for the practice squad and could land there.

SPECIALISTS (4)

No surprises here, unless the Patriots keep their eyes on available snappers.

New England Patriots' projected roster

August, 25, 2014
Aug 25
8:00
AM ET
Examining the New England Patriots' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Might be the best quarterback depth chart, from top to bottom, in Bill Belichick's 15 years as coach.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

The Patriots are always good for a surprise, and we've had our antenna up at this position since early July. If there's a surprise, we'll play a hunch at this spot with Stevan Ridley, whose low snap total Friday (11 snaps) in a "dress rehearsal" game caught the eye. Meanwhile, Roy Finch lands on the practice squad.

FULLBACKS (1)

The Patriots are relying on him a lot, given their shortage at tight end.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

A position to monitor on the waiver wire and in free agency to see if any options present themselves, similar to last year with Matthew Mulligan.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Last week, we had Brian Tyms making the club but not counting against the 53-man roster because of his four-game suspension to open the season. But the fact he hasn't received any playing time with Tom Brady has me rethinking that scenario. I wonder if Boyce could generate any trade interest from teams who might have been high on him in the 2013 draft. Assuming there's nothing there, it feels generous to keep him based on his training camp and preseason performance, but the depth might be needed, especially with a thinner tight-end situation. But one thing to consider is that he is practice-squad eligible.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

The feeling here is that the Patriots' best line to start the season is the one they finished with in 2013, which isn't probably the way they planned it to go, in part because of Stork's injury that has sidelined him since the fifth day of training camp. Sixth-round pick Jon Halapio would wind up on the practice squad in this scenario, which would make this writer look foolish for declaring him a sure-fire lock back in July. The hope would be to have him clear waivers and land on the practice squad.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Moore has been improving and the feeling here is that the sixth-round pick from Concordia-St. Paul wouldn't make it through to the practice squad. If things unfold this way, the Patriots probably hope that Jerel Worthy will.

LINEBACKERS (5)

A little thin at this spot. Banking on Steve Beauharnais, James Morris and Ja'Gared Davis clearing waivers and being top options to land on the practice squad.

CORNERBACKS (6*)

Because Browner is suspended for the first four regular-season games, he won't count against the initial 53-man roster limit. But he is included here because he is obviously a significant part of the team's overall planning for the 2014 season. Butler, an undrafted free agent from West Alabama, is the surprise story of the preseason.

SAFETIES (4)

The toughest decision was between Chung and Tavon Wilson, and perhaps they both stick -- or both go. The reason Chung gets the nod is that there's a chance Wilson could still stick on the practice squad if he clears waivers, based on new eligibility rules.

SPECIALISTS (4)

Things are looking settled here as specialists had a highlight Friday with Gostkowski's 60-yard field goal.

New England Patriots' projected roster

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
8:00
AM ET
Examining the New England Patriots' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Garoppolo keeps showing impressive poise and presence, while Mallett played well Friday night as well.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Don't have many doubts that Bolden will be there, but wondering if there is a way Roy Finch might be able to sneak on the roster. In this scenario, he'll land on the practice squad instead.

FULLBACKS (1)

Showed up as a pass-catcher in Friday's game as he continues to round out his skills.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Sticking with just two, with the thinking that Develin could factor into this mix and players like D.J. Williams and/or Steve Maneri will be on the emergency list.

WIDE RECEIVERS (7*)

Tyms sticks because he won't count against the roster initially as part of his four-game suspension. Boyce hasn't done enough to warrant a spot, but his future potential and the feeling that it's too early to give up on him keeps him on for now.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Time to start paying more attention to Devey, the first-year player from Memphis who spent last year on the practice squad, as a legitimate candidate to earn a roster spot. He takes the place of sixth-round draft choice Jon Halapio in this scenario, with the team's hope that Halapio could land on the practice squad.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Would like to find a way to keep Will Smith, but spots are tough to come by and he hasn't done much to distinguish himself at this point. If Siliga's injury is more of a long-term situation, it could open the door for someone like Jerel Worthy.

LINEBACKERS (6)

The Patriots could explore the waiver wire at this spot, as the depth is a question mark behind the top trio.

CORNERBACKS (6*)

Because Browner is suspended for the first four regular-season games, he won't count against the initial 53-man roster limit. But he is included here because he is obviously a significant part of the team's overall planning for the 2014 season. Butler, an undrafted free agent from West Alabama, continues to make plays.

SAFETIES (4)
Patrick Chung and Tavon Wilson could be part of the emergency list in the event of injury, while cornerbacks Arrington and Ryan could also factor into the mix.

SPECIALISTS (4)

Aiken looks more secure this week after the release of Tyler Ott on Sunday.

New England Patriots' projected roster

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
8:00
AM ET
Examining the New England Patriots' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Still think Mallett enters the year as the No. 2, giving Garoppolo valuable time to learn behind the scenes.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Bolden has had a slow start in training camp and wasn't with the team for joint practices with Washington before returning to practice Sunday. But his work on special teams still earns him a spot from this viewpoint.

FULLBACKS (1)

When he lowered his shoulder to initiate contact on a 13-yard catch-and-run in the preseason opener, it fired up the sideline.

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TIGHT ENDS (2)

Sticking with just two, with the thinking that Develin could factor into this mix and players like D.J. Williams, Ben Hartsock and/or Steve Maneri will be on the emergency list.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Looking to see more from Boyce, whose primary value comes as a kickoff returner, a role he wasn't tapped to fill in the preseason opener.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Solder should be the least of the team's worries, but he struggled in practice last week and then in the preseason opener.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Like the idea of having veteran defensive end Will Smith on the roster, but he's edged out in this scenario for additional depth in the defensive backfield.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Fleming, a third-year player who has some position flexibility to be a backup in an end-of-the-line role as well as an off-the-line role, edges Steve Beauharnais for the final spot. Beauharnais could still stick, possibly over Anderson, but Anderson showed up a bit more in the preseason opener from this viewpoint.

CORNERBACKS (6*)

Because Browner is suspended for the first four regular-season games, he won't count against the initial 53-man roster limit. But he is included here because he is obviously a significant part of the team's overall planning for the 2014 season. Butler, an undrafted free agent from West Alabama, earns a roster spot based on his strong performance in the preseason opener.

SAFETY (4)

Veteran Patrick Chung could always come back during the season in the event of injury. With rookie Jemea Thomas (sixth round, Georgia Tech) sustaining an undisclosed injury on the first day of training camp (he returned to practice for the first time Sunday), he is edged out in this scenario by Wilson, who also contributes on special teams. Thomas would be a solid practice-squad candidate.

SPECIALISTS (4)

Aiken handled most of the snapping duties in the preseason opener, and he seems to have the edge right now over undrafted Tyler Ott.

New England Patriots' projected roster

August, 4, 2014
Aug 4
8:00
AM ET
Examining the New England Patriots' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Garoppolo has struggled in practice of late, but that is to be expected from a rookie. Mallett, in turn, has caught our eye with some strong play that we're curious to see if it transfers over to the game field in the preseason.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Starting to wonder if White might cut into some of Ridley's early-down workload, as it's been notable how many repetitions he's seeing in practice, especially on the goal line.

FULLBACKS (1)

Great story about a hard-nosed player who at one point went to the United Football League to keep his NFL hopes alive.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Back to just two tight ends, because something has to give with so many receivers, a No. 3 quarterback and a pure fullback. So that could mean both undrafted rookies Justin Jones and Asa Watson land on the practice squad, with D.J. Williams on the emergency list if he's not picked up elsewhere.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Thompkins has clearly been ahead of LaFell and Boyce in practice. It's hard to imagine the Patriots would let Boyce go after drafting him early in the fourth round last year, but at the same time, I don't think he's a sure-fire lock.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Stork sustained what appeared to be a lower-leg injury in the fifth practice of camp and hasn't been on the field since. Toughest call here was deciding between Connolly and scrappy Ryan Wendell, as both have played a lot of good football for the team.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

Added Kelly in this week's projection because he's been tough to block in one-on-one drills. No way a player like Moore gets through waivers to land on the practice squad, which is why he gets the final spot.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Thought Beauharnais had a nice week of practice, showing up with a big hit in the Oklahoma drill and commanding the huddle.

CORNERBACKS (5*)

Because Browner is suspended for the first four regular-season games, he won't count against the initial 53-man roster limit. But he is included here because he is obviously a significant part of the team's overall planning for the 2014 season.

SAFETY (4)

Veteran Patrick Chung could always come back during the season in the event of injury. With rookie Jemea Thomas (sixth round, Georgia Tech) sustaining an undisclosed injury on the first day of training camp, he is edged out in this scenario by Wilson, who also contributes on special teams. It would work out nicely if Thomas could land on the practice squad to add depth, as this is a little light to start the season in the defensive backfield.

SPECIALISTS (4)

One of the under-the-radar training camp competitions is at snapper, where incumbent Aiken is being challenged by rookie Tyler Ott of Harvard. To the layman, looks like Aiken has the edge right now.

New England Patriots' projected roster

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
8:00
AM ET
Examining the New England Patriots' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Not reading anything into Garoppolo's handful of interceptions in the early days of camp. Mallett, as expected at this point, looks like he has the edge for the No. 2 job.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Bolden, who has struggled at times early in camp with ball security and catching the ball, still sticks because of his important role on special teams.

FULLBACKS (1)

When the pads came on this weekend for the first time, the hard-charging Develin was part of some of the biggest collisions as he brings an edge to the offense.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

We went light with just two tight ends in the initial projection but add Williams in this time because we're somewhat intrigued with his potential as a "move" option in the two-tight-ends package. Justin Jones lands on the practice squad.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

The top four are solidified, and then it comes down to LaFell ($3 million signing bonus) and Boyce (2013 fourth-round pick). Does the team have enough room to keep both?

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There's a long way to go, but in this projection, Stork (fourth round, Florida State) beats out incumbent Ryan Wendell for the starting job at center.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There is always a surprise cut, and 33-year-old Tommy Kelly, coming off a torn ACL that limited him to four games last season, would qualify as one in this projection.

LINEBACKERS (6)

With White and Davis potentially serving as core special teamers, it could threaten 2013 seventh-round pick Steve Beauharnais' place on the roster.

CORNERBACKS (5*)

Because Browner is suspended for the first four regular-season games, he won't count against the initial 53-man roster limit. But he is included here because he is obviously a significant part of the team's overall planning for the 2014 season.

SAFETY (4)

Veteran Patrick Chung could always come back during the season in the event of injury. With rookie Jemea Thomas (sixth round, Georgia Tech) sustaining an undisclosed injury on the first day of training camp, he is edged out in this scenario by Wilson, who also contributes on special teams.

SPECIALISTS (4)

One of the under-the-radar training camp competitions is at snapper, where incumbent Aiken is being challenged by rookie Tyler Ott of Harvard.

New England Patriots' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
11:00
AM ET
Examining the New England Patriots' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Tom Brady
Ryan Mallett
Jimmy Garoppolo

The last time the Patriots kept three quarterbacks was in 2011, Mallett's rookie year. With Mallett entering the final year of his contract and likely to be playing elsewhere in 2015, the Patriots can groom his replacement, Garoppolo, one year early.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Stevan Ridley
Shane Vereen
James White
Brandon Bolden

As has been the case in recent years, the Patriots split their backs into two categories: 1) More traditional early-down backs who have size and run with power (Ridley/Bolden); 2) Passing backs whose work as pass-protectors and as pass-catchers thrusts them into a starter-like role (Vereen/White) based on the spread formations the club often employs. We'll see if rookie and first-year backs Stephen Houston (category 1), Roy Finch (2) and Jonas Gray (1) can do enough to make this a tough decision.

FULLBACKS (1)

James Develin

The hard-nosed former Brown Bear has carved out a niche as a lead-blocker and special-teams presence, adding a needed element of toughness to the attack. He's also been expanding his duties to include some tight-end work in spring practices.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Rob Gronkowski
Michael Hoomanawanui

This is a bit lighter than the norm, and perhaps fifth-year veteran D.J. Williams (2010 Mackey Award winner) steps up as the "move" tight end or the team signs a free-agent like Dustin Keller. But in this scenario, with the club keeping an extra quarterback and possibly going a bit heavier on the offensive line than they have in the past, something has to give. Develin and a young offensive lineman would factor more into the tight end mix if this is the way it unfolds.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Aaron Dobson
Julian Edelman
Danny Amendola
Kenbrell Thompkins
Brandon LaFell
Josh Boyce

This is a huge year for second-year pass-catchers Dobson, Thompkins and Boyce -- making it one of the top storylines for the club entering training camp. And will Amendola stay healthy and become the player the club envisioned when signing him to a big deal in the 2013 offseason?

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

LT Nate Solder
LG Logan Mankins
C Bryan Stork
LT/RT/RG Marcus Cannon
RT Sebastian Vollmer
LG Josh Kline
RG Jon Halapio
RT Cameron Fleming
C Ryan Wendell

After the initial locks (Solder, Mankins, Vollmer, Cannon), there will be a good competition for roster spots with rookies (Stork, Halapio, Fleming) and first-year players (Braxston Cave, Chris Barker) pressing the issue. Starting right guard Dan Connolly, who has played plenty of good football for the Patriots, is scheduled to earn $3 million in base salary and economics could play a factor if he ultimately sticks.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

DT Vince Wilfork
DT Tommy Kelly
DT Dominique Easley
DT Chris Jones
DT Sealver Siliga
DE Chandler Jones
DE Rob Ninkovich
DE Will Smith
DE Michael Buchanan
DE Zach Moore

There is a nice mix of experience, production and young upside at both spots. Of the group above, Wilfork (Achilles), Kelly (ACL), Easley (ACL) and Smith (ACL) are all coming off serious injuries, so monitoring their health will be a key.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Jerod Mayo
Dont'a Hightower
Jamie Collins
Chris White
James Anderson
Steve Beauharnais

Some good battles for the backup spots will be a nitty-gritty storyline to monitor in training camp as the starters are set with Mayo, Hightower and Collins. Special teams are always a significant consideration in that area and White, Anderson and Beauharnais will be challenged by the likes of veteran Josh Hull, first-year player Ja'Gared Davis, second-year player Darius Fleming and undrafted free agent Cameron Gordon, among others.

CORNERBACKS (5*)

Darrelle Revis
Brandon Browner*
Kyle Arrington (slot)
Alfonzo Dennard
Logan Ryan

Because Browner is suspended for the first four regular-season games, he won't count against the initial 53-man roster limit. But he is included here because he is obviously a significant part of the team's overall planning for the 2014 season.

SAFETY (4)

Devin McCourty
Duron Harmon
Nate Ebner
Jemea Thomas

Veteran Patrick Chung and 2012 second-round pick Tavon Wilson would be the odd men out in this scenario, which assumes that Thomas -- the versatile sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech -- shows potential to grow into a role that includes a heavy emphasis in the kicking game. Logan Ryan, one of the team's smartest players who possibly has some cornerback/safety versatility, could ultimately be a factor here.

SPECIALISTS (4)

K Stephen Gostkowski
P Ryan Allen
LS Danny Aiken
ST Matthew Slater

The one position battle to watch is at long-snapper, where undrafted free agent Tyler Ott of Harvard is challenging Aiken, the incumbent. If the competition is close, Ott would get the nod based on economics. (His salary is cheaper and the team controls his rights for three years while Aiken is on a one-year deal.)

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