QB(3) Brady, Cassel, Bramlett, Mortensen It will be interesting to see whether the braintrust brings a veteran into camp to compete with Bramlett and Mortensen. Accounts of the recent mini-camp were that Brady and Cassel stood head and shoulders ahead of either of the younger QBs. Going into camp without the QBs currently on the roster is a real vote of confidence in Cassel, and leaves the only drama in the competition between Bramlett and Mortensen for garbage duty. RB(5) Dillon, Moroney, Faulk, Mills, Pass, Evans I think the competition at training camp will not include Dillon or Moroney... they will both make the roster regardless of how camp shapes up. The most interesting competition will be between Pass and Evans, for the right to play veteran FB. I count Mills as a lock for the roster based on his draft status, long term potential and the fact that rookie contracts are an utter bargain for the team. I can imagine Evans winning the spot over Pass, although Pass is clearly the incumbant. The competition is likely to come down to roster versatility and usefulness on Special Teams, where Pass probably has the edge. WR(5) Branch, Caldwell, Jackson, Brown, Childress, Z.Smith, Stone The first four receivers are all locks, but the competition for the #5 spot is wide open. I have Childress as the favorite for the 5th spot, based on the fact that he has a year in the system, is a hard worker and had a good game against the Fins in 2005. The wildcard in the equation is whether any of the WR camp fodder are able to make a case for themselves based on skill in the kicking game. If someone like Zuriel Smith lock down the PR job, or flash something special in KR, then they could easily win the last spot. In the past, we've carried 6 receivers, but with our depth at TE and our lack of deep skill at WR, it looks unlikely in 2006. TE(3) Graham, Watson, Thomas No news here. There can hardly be anything more certain on the 53-man than this threesome. Whatever we think of our WR corp, the depth and athleticism of our TEs makes up for it. And if we flex Mills into TE based on need... well, that's just even better OT(4) Light, Kaczur, Gorin, O'Callaghan, Britt, Roehl, Hand The competition is for the 4th tackle position. I'm giving the nod to the oversized rookie, Ryan O'Callaghan, based solely on his size 6-7 330-- easily the biggest lineman on the roster. But, there are a number of prospects for the position who could easily claim it for themselves. OG(3) Mankins, Neal, Stevenson, Yates, Tucker, Steitz The 3rd guard, in practice, is probably Hochstein, who can play any of the five OL positions in a pinch. But, he's our primary at OC, so I wont double count him. In rookie camp, the braintrust was playing Stevenson at OC, so they may have something very similar in mind for him. The rest of the OGs on the roster actually seem to have some good upside. It'll be interesting to see how this evolves, but we probably have to give the rookie from ND the inside track. OC(2) Koppen, Hochstein, Barthelmes I think any drama at the OC position will be purely a question of whether Koppen returns for his contract year in good health. If he doesn't, I expect Hochstein to start, and Stevenson to be groomed as the #2, making roster room for someone like Yates or Tucker. But, if Dan is healthy and productive, there's not much to talk about here. NT(2) Wilfork, Sullivan, Smith, Wright, Thomas This will be one of the most interesting camp competitions, in my book. Sullivan is a former top-10 draft pick, but doesn't realize how tough he has it in saving his career from the brink of disaster. Smith sounds like a solid prospect, and Wright was the success story of TC last year. Getting busted with pot in his car is not a promising start-- he'll need to come into camp in shape and dedicated to proving he's not a bust, or he'll be flipping burgers for the next twenty years. He didn't even finish his degree at Georgia-- he came out early-- so he doesn't have much to fall back on, beyond his signing bonus. DE(4) Seymour, Warren, Green, Hill, Drame Dont see much competition here. The only question is whether Hill will ever break into the rotation on the regular D, or whether he's going to be a career inactive player. Kader Drame doesn't seem like serious competition. OLB(4) Vrabel, Colvin, Banta-Cain, Mincey, Claridge ILB(4) Bruschi, Beisel, Izzo, Davis, Gardner, Alexander, Roach, Mays, Woods Competition at LB will be wide open. The core five, consisting of Vrabel, Colvin, Bruschi, Beisel and Izzo, are locks. The question of the next three or four or five roster spots comes down to special teams play, and the ability to pinch-hit in crisis situations in the regular D. If any of the remaining players shows any upside to become anything more than a solid ST player, they have a distinct advantage. That's why I've listed Banta-Cain and Mincey as my favorites to make the roster at OLB. Davis and Gardner are both ST mavens, who can contribute in the regular D in an emergency. In this 53-man, Gardner's real competition is players like Mel Mitchell and Tebucky Jones, who are going to fill out the ST roster. That leaves Claridge, Alexander and the UDFA rookies on the outside looking in. Claridge is a tough call for me, because he's a recent draft pick and should fit well on the team. But I'm concerned that if he doesn't show up in camp this year, the team may be prepared to give up on him altogether. Any of the youngsters who flashes the best upside and a good mind for the design of the D should make the team. But I think a lot of these guys are heading for the practice squad. CB(5) Hobbs, Samuel, Gay, Scott, Andrews, Warfield, Poteat, V.Brown, Spann Hobbs and Samuel are the two locks, and competition for the next two or three CB positions is pretty wide open. Also in the competition at CB will be Eugene Wilson and Artrell Hawkins (given the great depth of talent at S, and their positional flexibility). Geno and Hawkins would both be very physical and strong CBs, which could be useful against "finesse" teams where some smashmouth, hard hitting is called for to set the tone. My choices of Gay and Scott over Warfield is based mostly on my lack of excitement over Warfield's abilities. KC was never any good on D with him starting for them. There is nothing in his history, demenor or performance at the mini-camp to make me very optimistic. Gay has been a nice surprise for us since his rookie year, and Scott drew some uncharacteristicly generous compliments from Belichick after last year's TC. Poteat is likely to go right back onto the Shadow Roster. I've kept Andrews purely as a KR. The fact that he's listed as a CB is a thin veil. Andrews's top competition for KR duty may be Vernell Brown, who was a sparkplug and captain for Urban Meyer, Belichick's new football buddy from UFlorida. S(6) Harrison, Wilson, Jones, Hawkins, Sanders, Mitchell, Scott, Ventrone, Herring I've decided to keep six safeties, with the expectation that the ST unit is going to be staffed from these players. It hurts me to lock Guss Scott off the roster, knowing that he could be a serious threat as a gunner. But after two injury filled seasons, he's got to prove something in camp to make the cut, especially with the quality depth in front of him. Really, there's quality competition at just about every position. The only exception is TE, where we seem to be locked and loaded with incredible talent. Interestingly, there is very little competition for starting positions. Most of the competition is 3 and 4 positions deep, and in the ST units. P(1) Miller Lock K(1) Gostkowski, Gramatica This looks like competition, but I think it's a pretty shallow ploy. The rookie gets the nod, and Gramatica is just on board to help provide a little bit of a veteran role model while the kid is finding himself in the NFL.' LS(1) Paxton, Condo Paxton actually has competition this year. I think Mills and/or Thomas also have LS experience from college, so it's no sure thing that the snow angel keeps his wings. Still, unless it's broke, why fix it?