NEWS
|
FORUM
|
SCHEDULE
|
VIDEOS
|
STATS DATABASE
|
PODCAST
|
SALARY CAP
LATEST PATRIOTS COVERAGE:
Get Social With PatsFans.com:

Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection 1.0


The Patriots look to get back to work as they gear up for the 2014 season. (USA TODAY Images)

The NFL is back! Ok, maybe not quite yet, but training camp is nearly upon us. It’s hard to believe the New England Patriots haven’t played a game in over six months. The offseason is coming to a close and players are heading back to Gillette Stadium as the 2014 season is only a few weeks away.

Training camp opens up Thursday and 90 players will be fighting to make the team. Here is an early 53-man roster prediction.

Quarterback: 3

Tom Brady
Ryan Mallett
Jimmy Garoppolo

Brady is the face of the franchise, the only real question is who will be the backup? Expect Mallett and Garoppolo to battle it out in camp.

Running Back: 3

Steven Ridley
Shane Vereen
James White

Ridley, Vereen and White all seem like locks to make the roster. Brandon Bolden will be in the mix along with undrafted free agent tailbacks Roy Finch and Stephen Houston, but I’m not sure any of the three carry enough weight to make the team.

Full Back: 1

James Develin 

Last season, Develin carved out a solid role within the offense. He brings toughness in short-yardage situations and performs on special teams. The Pats experimented moving him around — even lining up at tight end — in OTAs, could we see an expanded role this year?

Wide Receiver: 6

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

This will be one of the biggest positions under the microscope over the next few weeks. As of now, six wide receivers seem like they have a legitimate shot at making the roster, but health questions make the situation unclear. Second year receivers Thompkins and Boyce will have the opportunity to step up while Dobson and LaFell work their way back.

Tight End (2)

Rob Gronkowski
Michael Hoomanawanui

By far the thinnest position on the roster. Essentially, it’s Gronkowski or bust for the tight end position. It seems possible he returns week one, but it’s not a guarantee. “Hooman” will have another chance to show he offers more than run blocking.

Tackle: 4

Nate Solder
Sebastian Vollmer

Marcus Cannon
Cameron Fleming

While I see Solder and Vollmer as the set starters, both Cannon and Fleming have the versatility the Pats covet in lineman.

Guard: 3

Logan Mankins
Josh Kline
Jon Halapio 

The number of three guards is somewhat misleading because of the great versatility on the Patriots roster. Mankins will start at left guard, but what about the right side? Cannon, Connolly, Stork, Kline, Halapio — it’s up for grabs.

Center: 2

Bryan Stork
Ryan Wendell

Wendell had a very good season two years ago, but came up small in 2013. Stork has the size and talent to start from day one, which should make this training camp battle fun to watch.

Defensive Ends: 5

Chandler Jones
Rob Ninkovich

Michael Buchanan
Will Smith
Zach Moore

After Jones and Ninkovich, there’s a noticeable drop off. Buchanan offers intriguing upside, Smith could be valuable as long as he returns healthy from a knee injury sustained last season and Moore might need some time to develop. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team look for some veteran help.

Defensive Tackles: 5

Vince Wilfork
Tommy Kelly
Dominique Easley
Chris Jones
Sealver Siligia 

The defensive tackles could be a dominant force this season, but it could be a weak spot for the team depending on health. Wilfork (achilles), Kelly (knee) and Easley (knee) are all returning from serious injuries so how they return could be critical for the team’s defense. Jones and Siliga hope to pick up where they left off last season.

Linebackers: 6

Jerod Mayo
Dont’a Hightower
Jamie Collins
James Anderson
Steve Beauharnais
Cameron Gordon 

The three starters are set — assuming the Pats run a 4-3 base defense — Mayo, Hightower and Collins. The backup roles are up for grabs, however, and undrafted free agent Cameron Gordon is someone to keep an eye on. Every year New England keeps a UDFA or two on the 53-man roster and I project Gordon for a spot this season.¬†Anderson provides versatility and Beauharnais looks to make an impact after¬†a quiet rookie year.

Cornerbacks: 5

Darrelle Revis
Alfonzo Dennard
Kyle Arrington
Logan Ryan

Daxton Swanson

The big name left off is Brandon Browner. I believe he makes the team, but he won’t be able to start the year on the Patriots 53-man roster so first-year cornerback Daxton Swanson is kept for depth for the first few weeks. After Browner’s suspension is over, Swanson may be put on the practice squad or Injured-Reserve with the “Foxboro Flu” (wink, wink) if the team doesn’t want to lose him. The other four players aren’t much of a surprise and will likely see significant action throughout the season.

Safeties: 4

Devin McCourty
Duron Harmon
Jemea Thomas
Nate Ebner

McCourty and Harmon are slated to start for New England. Sixth-round selection Thomas provides versatility and depth, while Ebner’s presence on special teams helps his cause for a spot.

Special Teams: 4

Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski
Punter: Ryan Allen
Long Snapper: Danny Aiken
Specialist: Matthew Slater

No surprises here, Gostkowski and Allen are locks. Aiken will battle UDFA long snapper Tyler Ott, but I don’t think he’ll be able to make the team. Slater, a special team standout and team captain, also earns a spot on the roster.

Breakdown –¬†Offense: 24 ¬† Defense: 25 ¬†Special Teams: 4

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Player Bio: Jeremy Gallon

Name: Jeremy Gallon

Position: Wide receiver

School: Michigan

Selected: Round 7, Pick 244 overall

Height:¬†5’7

Weight: 185

Strengths:

  • Displays strong hands, route running ability¬†
  • Has great balance and vision after the catch¬†
  • Tremendous college production¬†
  • Could contribute on special teams

Weaknesses:

  • Undersized¬†
  • Not dynamic, lacks top end speed
  • Has trouble blocking

Analysis: 

Gallon has strong hands, displaying great hand-eye coordination. He runs good routes and can read defensive zones. The Michigan product lacks top end speed, but shows burst and agility on tape.

Gallon shows some similarities to Julian Edelman. He may be able to contribute on special teams and has traits that could translate to the NFL. Almost built like a running back, great vision with the ball in his hands. His production in the Big Ten stood out on numerous occasions. Loves the game, very passionate.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Player Bio: Jemea Thomas

Name: Jemea Thomas

Position: Defensive back

School: Georgia Tech

Selected: Round 6, Pick 206 overall

Height:¬†5’9

Weight: 192

Strengths:

  • Tough, versatile athlete¬†
  • Four-year starter, accountable¬†
  • Shows great awareness, high football IQ
  • Strong tackler, loves to hit
  • Plays much bigger than his size

Weaknesses:

  • Undersized frame that can struggle against bigger athletes¬†
  • Average range, displays stiff hips at times
  • Question about his fit at NFL level¬†

Analysis: 

The Patriots love to bring in young defensive backs and Thomas is a player with potential. He’s not necessarily a starter, as he could struggle to find a perfect fit, but Belichick loves versatility. Even though he’s 5’9, the Georgia Tech defensive back plays much bigger ¬†on the field delivering crushing blows to opponents.

Thomas should be able to contribute on special teams right away, his ticket to potentially landing on the 53-man roster, but he could elevate himself into a much larger role in the future. He could play cornerback, nickel (in the slot) and strong safety at times. His toughness and competitive spirt stands out.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Player Bio: Zach Moore

Name: Zach Moore

Position: Defensive end

School: Concordia-St, Paul

Selected: Round 6, Pick 198 overall

Height: 6’5

Weight: 269

Strengths:

  • Has NFL size; Long, lean, athletic frame
  • Quick off the snap, flashes pro ability¬†
  • Scheme diverse, working in 3-4 and 4-3 defenses¬†
  • Improved throughout collegiate career¬†
  • Two time captain, good work ethic¬†

Weaknesses:

  • Behind in development, requires some patience¬†
  • Must learn to convert speed to power
  • Irrelevant facing double teams
  • Can lose leverage getting too upright¬†

Analysis: 

Moore is an impressive player, even as a prospect facing lower level talent. He’s a long, lean athlete that has all the tools to develop in the right pro system. He had great production, having 33 sacks at Concordia.

While Moore will be a 24-year-old rookie, he has intriguing upside moving forward. While he’s raw, there’s a chance he can contribute from day one. Moore will put pressure on Jake Bequette and Will Smith for a roster spot in training camp. He might require some patience, but Moore could pay dividends down the line.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Player Bio: Jon Halapio

Name: Jon Halapio

Position: Guard

School: Florida

Selected: Round 6, Pick 179 overall

Height: 6’3

Weight: 323

Strengths:

  • Big, thick body with a fierce mentality¬†
  • Can drive defenders, anchor on the line
  • Tough, played through a torn pectoral his senior year
  • Team captain, 43 career starts

Weaknesses:

  • Lower body technique needs work
  • Struggle to react, poor balance with contact
  • Limited blocking range
  • Run block mauler, but needs work in pass protection
  • Injuries may be a concern

Analysis: 

The Patriots went back to the Florida pipeline to grab another offensive lineman. Halapio is a big-bodied mauler that will need work on pass protection in order to develop at the NFL level. He’s tough and is a warrior in the trenches. Despite a torn pectoral, he pushed through the pain and then wanted to prove he was better than his 2013 tape in the pre-draft process.

Halapio needs some work, but has the potential to be a solid NFL guard. The Patriots needed to inject some youth to their line, they did just that. Expect Halapio to be a backup lineman to start, maybe coming in on short-yardage situations.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Player Bio: Cameron Fleming

Name: Cameron Fleming

Position: Offensive Tackle

School: Stanford

Selected: Round 4, Pick 140 overall

Height: 6’5

Weight: 330

Strengths:

  • Good size, big body and strong hands
  • Explosive and agile for his size
  • Shows good awareness and alertness
  • Three year starter in pro-style offense¬†
  • Very intelligent

Weaknesses:

  • Tight hips, struggles versus speed rushers
  • Could improve finishing off blocks
  • Footwork could improve

Analysis: 

Fleming is an impressive prospect. He might not be totally NFL ready, but he has starting potential. He’s a big-bodied specimen that can move well for his size, showing explosiveness when engaging defenders.

Fleming is a very intelligent player and hard worker. He majored in aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford. His former college coach, David Shaw, said on ESPN, “The bottom line is he doesn’t get beat.”

He started for three years in a pro style offense and compares to Marcus Cannon a bit. He could play right tackle, may be able to kick inside to right guard. Just a depth guy from the start, but could push for a starting role down the line.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Player Bio: James White

Name: James White

Position: Running back

School: Wisconsin

Selected: Round 4, 130 overall

Height:¬†5’9

Weight: 204

Strengths:

  • Good vision, balance
  • Takes care of the football, only two fumbles in 754 carries
  • Excels in pass protection, willing blocker
  • Shifty runner, short-area burst
  • Tough, competitive, highly respected in Wisconsin’s program¬†

Weaknesses:

  • Lacks top-end speed
  • Undersized, short arms and small hands
  • Does not push the pile
  • Hasn’t shown the ability to be a feature back, split carries all four years

Analysis: 

With Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen entering contract years, the Patriots were expected to take a running back or two in this year’s draft.¬†White should be able to contribute to the committee right away with his ability to pass protect. New England needed a backup third-dpwn back and White should fill that role.

The Wisconsin tailback has shared carries throughout his collegiate career, displaying excellent ball security. He maximizes runs, showing burst through the hole. He has not shown the ability to be a feature back and most likely won’t at the NFL level.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Player Bio: Bryan Stork

Name: Bryan Stork 

Position: Center / Guard

School: Florida State

Selected: Round 4, Pick 105

Height: 6’4

Weight: 315

Strengths:

  • Good size and can handle big defenders¬†
  • Intelligent, called out pass protection at FSU
  • Understands angles, has ability to slide and seal¬†
  • Versatile, can play center and guard
  • Loves to compete, plays with an edge

Weaknesses:

  • Short arms
  • Needs work with hips, stiff movements and has trouble sinking¬†
  • Tends to play too upright, exposing his body and losing¬†leverage

 

Expert’s Takes: 

“He’s got some interior versatility. He can play center or guard. He’s smart, understands blitz pickups and the nuances of playing offensive line.” — Mike Mayock

Good-sized, bump-and-steer blocker ideally suited for a zone-blocking, slide-protection scheme. Smart, tough technician capable of serving as an interior swing backup and could eventually fend for a starting job as a pivot. Will be best developed by a patient, respectful position coach.” — Nolan Nawrocki¬†

Analysis: 

Stork is a big-bodied technician that should fit in well with the Patriots. He loves to compete, has a high football IQ and is versatile. He has the ability to play center and guard, doing both at Florida State. He called the pass protections, too.

Stork needs some time to develop, probably a backup before challenging for a starting role down the line. He is a massive size upgrade over current center, Ryan Wendell. Stork needs work with his hips, focusing on not getting too upright, but should be able to find success with his lunchpail attitude and love for the game.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Player Bio: Jimmy Garoppolo


Recently drafted quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. (USA TODAY Images)

Name: Jimmy Garoppolo

Position: Quarterback

School: Eastern Illinois

Selected: Round 2, Pick 62

Height: 6’2

Weight: 226

Strengths:

  • Very quick release
  • Mobile, can slide in pocket while keeping eyes downfield
  • Goes through progression, great anticipation
  • Very accurate, can make all NFL throws
  • Poised, mentally¬†tough in the pocket
  • Smart, durable, team leader¬†

Weaknesses:

  • Small hands, had a lot of fumbles in collegiate career¬†
  • Played mostly in shotgun, spread offense
  • Footwork could¬†be improved
  • Could improve pocket awareness¬†

Expert’s Takes: 

“This kid’s got a quick release, good arm and is very athletic. Tom Brady, at his age, and Ryan Mallett’s uncertain status forces this pick. This is an insurance policy for an unknown future. He’s an interesting quarterback. He makes every throw. The feet and quick release are what stand out.” — Mike Mayock¬†

A decorated FCS passer, Garoppolo could excite quarterback coaches with his quick delivery, mental make-up and work habits, yet he still needs to prove he can fit the ball into tight windows and do more than carve up soft shells the way he regularly did on his way to a record-breaking performance in college. Possesses the physical tools to eventually earn an NFL starting job in a rhythm passing game with continued refinement but is more of a caretaker than a game changer and will require some patience adapting to the NFL game.” — Nolan Nawrocki¬†

Analysis: 

Garoppolo has all the tools to be a very good NFL quarterback. He didn’t play against the top competition in college, needs to work on pocket awareness and could benefit from sitting a few years. He comes into a good situation in New England. Can learn a pro style offense, while cleaning up his game. The Walter Peyton Award winner, given to most¬†outstanding FCS player, is a smart guy and a great leader. He should fit great in New England.

Garoppolo was a surprise pick by the Patriots for many people around the league. With Tom Brady not getting any younger and Ryan Mallett only under contract for one more year, it makes sense to bring in another signal-caller. With that being said, it seemed like the team had more pressing needs to address in the second round. The team felt strongly about Garoppolo, obviously, and he’ll be under a microscope in training camp. Could this be Tom Brady’s heir apparent?

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Player Bio: Dominique Easley


Easley’s upside is immense, and he should be a potential playmaker in the Patriots’ defense. (USA TODAY Images)

Name: Dominique Easley

Position: Defensive lineman

School: Florida

Selected: Round 1, Pick 29

Height: 6’2

Weight: 288

Strengths:

  • Explodes off the ball
  • Great use of his hands
  • Terrific motor and energy
  • Versatile, has played all along the defensive line¬†

Weaknesses:

  • Both knees have required ACL surgery¬†
  • Could add some more size and get functionally stronger¬†
  • Limited experience in two-gap technique
  • Can be overaggressive¬†

Expert’s Takes:¬†

“He was a top 30 pick until he tore his ACL in September. He’s quick and explosive. A lot of people felt like he was going to drop because of the ACL. This is a typical Bill Belichick pick. The rest of league discounted talent, but he’ll be in training camp. The Patriots needed defensive linemen and this kid is gifted.” — Mike Mayock

“Undersized, explosive, athletic, high-motor three-technique whose junior season was cut short in Week 3 by a knee injury. Injury history will likely affect his draft stock, but when healthy, he shows the ability to disrupt the backfield and pressure the quarterback. Fits best in an aggressive scheme in which he could use his quickness to slant, stunt and shoot gaps. Medical evaluations will determine draft standing.” — Nolan Nawrocki

A healthy Easley has exceptional get-off quickness, constantly playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage. But buyer beware. In a draft awash with talent, some team will really need to have a special feeling for Easley to spend a high pick based on potential not attained due to multiple, non-contact injuries.” — Rob Rang¬†

Analysis: 

Easley is a very good pick for the Patriots. Obviously, his knee injuries are concerning, but his upside is immense. Talent-wise, he is a top ten pick in this year’s draft. Easley has shown great versatility and plays with a tremendous motor. If you liked the way former linebacker Brandon Spikes played, you’ll love Easley’s energy.

With Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly not getting any younger, bringing Easley along in the defense makes sense. If you watch his tape, his hand technique is excellent. He explodes off the ball and can get into the backfield with ease. He will be able to contribute right away.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!