Training camp is over and three preseason games are in the books.
A lot has changed since my first and second 53-man roster predictions. Some tough calls for New England throughout the roster and some no-brainers as well. For now, here is my third 53-man roster prediction. —
Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow could be on the roster bubble as cut down day approaches. (FILE:USPresswire)
Tom Brady is the face of the franchise and Mallett will be the back-up barring a trade, although, that seems highly unlikely at this point. I believe the team will keep three signal-callers, unlike in recent years, which means Tebow makes the cut. If it were up to me, I would cut Tebow. He seems like a waste of a roster spot on thi team, but the coaching staff looks determined to develop him.
Running Back: 4
Cut:Â Brandon Bolden, George Winn,Â Ben Bartholomew
Ridley and Vereen are locks to make the roster. Washington has been tremendous in camp, but he has shown virtually nothing in preseason games. I feel he makes the team based on his special teams value and ability to backup Vereen. Blount out-performed Bolden and can offer more as a true between-the-tackles back.
Full Back: 0
Cut: James Develin
I do not believe the Patriots start the year with a fullback on the active roster. Tight endÂ Michael Hoomanawanui has shown the ability to play the position and while James Develin has received a ton of reps in camp, it has not been enough to validate a roster spot.
Wide Receiver: 6
Cut:Â Kamar Aiken, Joe Haggerty,Â Mark Harrison and Quentin Sims
Amendola, Dobson, Boyce and Slater will be on New England’s roster. Undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins has been terrific and is now a lock to not only make the team, but start on offense over Dobson. The Patriots could be on the look out for another veteran pass catcher at some point during the season, but I believe they have confidence in their young receivers. I include Slater in the position, but he is really mostly a special teams ace and not a true pass catcher.
Tight End: 4
Gronkowski looks like he could be ready earlier than expected, which is worth taking him of the Physically Unable to Perform list. Ballard has received a ton of first team reps and seems to be getting healthier as time goes on, but his lack of production may make him a roster casualty. Sudfeld has carved out a role and looks like a lock at this point. Fells had a solid camp, but not worth his contract. Now that he’s injured, I do not see him making the team.
Cut: Daniel Fells, Evan Landi
Cut: Brice Schwab
While I see Solder and Vollmer as the set starters, both Svitek and Zucsevics have the versatility the Pats covet in lineman.
Cut:Â Chris McDonald, Luke Patterson
Mankins is the franchise, stalwart guard and Connolly seems to have locked himself into the starting right guard slot when healthy. Cannon has shown promise and versatility in the limited opportunities he has received. Svitek has also shown the ability to step into the right guard position if necessary.
Cut:Â Josh Kline, Matt Stankiewitch
Wendell played the most snaps of any Patriot last season and played admirably during that time. Other lineman have positional versatility to play center incase of an injury.
Defensive Ends: 5
Cut:Â Jake Bequette,Â Jermaine Cunningham
As of now, New England’s roster is surrounded with intriguing possibilities defensively. If this defense will improve for the upcoming NFL season, the front seven will play a large role in their success. Jones and Ninkovich are locks. Bernard and Francis have carved out roles as sub-rushers. Buchanan is by no means a lock, but his size, length and potential are intriguing. Bequette and Cunningham have been invisible throughout preseason.
Defensive Tackles: 4
Cut:Â Cory Grissom, Anthony Rashad White,Â Scott Vallone; Armond Armstead (PUP)
The surprising release of Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick earlier this off-season certainly thinned the interior defensive line depth. Tommy Kelly has been very good and looks to be a solid addition next to Vince Wilfork. I still believe Armond Armstead will be on the 53-man roster, despite not being able to practice yet, but just not to start the season. Vellano starting Thursday night against the Lions could be an indication he has a role to start the year.
Has rookie linebacker Steve Beauharnais done enough to make the Patriots roster? (FILE:USPresswire)
Cut:Â Jeff Tarpinian,Â Mike Rivera,Â Niko Koutouvides,Â A.J. Edds
The linebacking core is a strong, versatile group for the Pats defense. Mayo, Spikes and Hightower should be even better playing alongside each other for the second year. Jamie Collins has been very impressive, displaying incredible athleticism. Fletcher, now a year removed from his torn ACL, provides quality depth. Beauharnais could be cut, but he adds linebacker depth and value on special teams.Â The unit offers high upside and optimism for improvement in 2013.
Cut:Â Ras-I Dowling,Â Justin Green, Brandon Jones, LeQuan Lewis
Talib, Arrington and Ryan are locks. Dennard will most likely be on the team, but there is a small chance his legal issues could jeopardize his future on this team. Ras-I Dowling has been plagued with injuries throughout his career, but now not only has he been nicked up in practice, his performance has been lackluster. Marquice Cole has a good shot at making the roster for depth as well as for his special teams ability. Depth is certainly an issue if an injury occurs.
Cut:Â Nate Ebner,Â Kanorris Davis
McCourty is a lock and will be starting at safety. Gregory started 12 games last year and provides quality depth. Tavon Wilson has been abysmal throughout preseason and is very much on the roster bubble. Adrian Wilson could go wither way, but I believe he has a role on this defense and could be used in several ways. Between the safety and cornerback position, I expect 10 players to make the roster. Given the Patriots struggles defending the pass the past few seasons, the competition is welcomed.
Special Teams: 3
Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski
Punter: Zoltan Mesko
Long Snapper: Danny Aiken
Cut:Â Ryan Allen – Punter
No surprises here. Gostkowski and Mesko are on a bit of a hot seat, but I do not see either of them losing their job. Danny Aiken has been solid. Allen could be a practice squad candidate and challenge Mesko again down the road.
Roster Bubble —Â
There were some tough calls going through the roster. As requested, here is a look at the “last four in” to make the roster and the “last four out” who were let go.
Last Four In:Â
Beauharnais adds depth to the linebacker position, but his special teams ability is valuable. Defensive tackle depth is shallow and Vellano adds some interior pass-rush to start the year. Wilson has struggled, but his youth and athleticism warrant a spot with one safety spot in question. I don’t believe the Patriots need a third quarterback when you have a signal-caller like Brady, but the team added plays to the playbook for Tebow and wants to try developing him further.
Last Four Out:
Bolden is a talented back, but he’s made too many mistakes going back to last season. FellsÂ had a solid camp, but not worth his contract. Now that he’s injured, I do not see him making the team. Bequette did not make any splash or impact plays during camp or preseason. He has been disappointing as a second-year player. Kanorris Davis offers some intriguing versatility and adds special teams value as well. Don’t be surprised if he lands on the practice squad and is added to the roster at some point during the season.
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