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Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection 2.0 

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
4 months ago at 10:56 am ET

Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection 2.0 Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 Patriots’ preseason is in full swing, the team has completed one game against the Houston Texans, and now they head to Green Bay for joint practices against the Packers until their preseason game on Saturday night. But through the first few weeks of training camp, some players have emerged while others have struggled. 

Health has been a huge factor for the offensive line, which hasn’t practiced with the projected starters yet. That remains a primary concern.

So, let’s jump right in and get to it, and discuss my latest roster projection.  

Quarterbacks (3):

Mac Jones
Bailey Zappe
Malik Cunningham

Out: Trace McSorley 

First of all, Jones is the #1 starter; the myth of QB competition never materialized. Now, I know I said to put the brakes on all the ‘Malik magic’ quotes, with many calling for him to supplant Zappe as the backup to Jones. 

The truth is none of us know what Cunningham is or will become. Especially the Patriots. Is he just a scout team QB, a gadget receiver, or a legitimate QB? The team is intrigued enough to give him some added reps. 

We all saw how gifted he was as a dual threat last week, albeit against Houston players, many of whom will be unemployed soon. However, he’s worth the time and patience to see what he can bring to the table. 

Running Back (4): 

Rhamondre Stevenson
Ezekiel Elliott
Pierre Strong
Kevin Harris

Out: Ty Montgomery, JJ Taylor

As I began writing this (Monday a.m.), I had them keeping just three RBs as the fourth wasn’t on the roster. That has changed with the signing of Elliott. Stevenson and Elliott will provide the team with a dual tandem that is quite capable and will ease the wear on each, keeping fresh legs. 

Harris and Strong are still young and valuable. Strong has the ability to be a change-of-pace guy with excellent speed as a receiver. Taylor is strictly a practice squad guy. While the team can’t justify keeping Montgomery, he only made it through one practice…down the road? Perhaps they bring him back.

Wide Receivers (5):

DeVante Parker
Tyquan Thornton
Kendrick Bourne
JuJu Smith-Schuster
Demario Douglas

Out: Keyshon Boutte, Tre Nixon, Thyrick Pitts

No changes here. I’ve had Douglas on the 53 since May, and every day, it seems he reinforces that choice. Everyone else is pretty locked. After slow starts in Bill O’Brien’s offense, Bourne and Thornton seem to be rounding into form.  

Boutte is also in that category as well, but they can’t afford right now to keep a 6th WR, but if he clears waivers, I would expect him to be on the practice squad. Nixon has all the tools; he just can’t put it all together. 

Tight Ends (3):

Hunter Henry
Mike Gesicki
Anthony Firkser

Out: Matt Sokol, Scotty Washington, Johnny Lumpkin

Who would be the third TE was also a question. With the injury to Gesicki and no details known about it or his return, the team opts for Firkser, a much more accomplished receiver than the others. 

Offensive Line (8):

Trent Brown
Cole Strange
David Andrews
Riley Reiff
Conor McDermott
Sidy Sow
Atonio Mafi
Kody Russey

NFI: Calvin Anderson PUP: Mike Onwenu

IR: Jake Andrews Out: James Ferentz, Chasen Hines, Bill Murray, Andrew Stueber

Obviously, a lot hinges on when Onwenu and Anderson can return, as well as the overall health of the unit. Russey may go to IR after his injury, which opens up a slot for Ferentz, who Belichick has always liked.  

Defensive Line (6): 

Christian Barmore
Keion White
Davon Godchaux
Deatrich Wise
Lawrence Guy
Daniel Ekuale

Out: Carl Davis, Sam Roberts, Jeremiah Pharms, Justus Tavai 

Cutting Davis was a tough decision, but I could see him returning quite soon. White should be an impact player immediately, along with Wise, Barmore, and Ekuale, who can provide interior pressure. 

Edge/Linebacker (8):

Matthew Judon
Josh Uche
Anfernee Jennings
Ja’Whaun Bentley
Jahlani Tavai
Marte Mapu
Mack Wilson
Chris Board

Out: Ronnie Perkins, Calvin Munson, Terez Hall, Diego Fagot, Joe Giles-Harris

This is a very good group of linebackers. Judon and Uche provide the pass rush, while Bentley is the downhill thumper inside. Jennings and Tavai can do a bit of both. Wilson and Mapu have the sideline-to-sideline capability. 

Cornerbacks (6):

Christian Gonzalez
Jonathan Jones
Marcus Jones
Jack Jones
Isaiah Bolden
Myles Bryant

Out: Ameer Speed, Shaun Wade, Quandre Mosely, Rodney Randle, Tae Hayes

Jack Jones’ status remains a big question mark, but for now, the group looks solid with Gonzalez and Jack Jones manning the perimeter with Jon Jones, Bryant, and Marcus Jones manning the slot. Bryant, however, played most of his snaps against Houston at safety…who knows how the team truly views him.  

Bolden has the size and speed to help at the perimeter and can double as a kick returner. He’s been coming on in camp. 

Safeties (5):

Kyle Dugger
Adrian Phillips
Jabrill Peppers
Jalen Mills
Joshuah Bledsoe

Out: Brad Hawkins

No changes here. The Patriots have a very deep and versatile group of safeties. Even with the retirement of Devin McCourty, they are still very deep. Moving Mills from CB to Safety makes sense. He can play the deep part of the field or rotate with Dugger to take advantage of the latter’s speed and athleticism. This is arguably the deepest position on the roster. 

Special Teams (5): 

Chad Ryland (K)
Bryce Baringer (P)
Joe Cardona (LS)
Matthew Slater (Gunner/Coverage)
Brenden Schooler (Gunner/Coverage)

PUP: Cody Davis Out: Nick Folk, Corliss Waitman, Tucker Addington, DaMarcus Mitchell, Raleigh Webb 

Using a 4th round pick on Ryland, the team was looking to upgrade at kicker. He has a much stronger leg than Folk at this stage of his career, and his accuracy, while not as strong as Folk’s, is good enough.

Barringer has a tremendous leg, and he puts many of his punts into 5 seconds of hang time. That is a great weapon to have. 

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Apple, YouTube, and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.


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Posted Under: 53-Man Roster Projection
Tags: 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Christian Gonzalez Ezekiel Elliott Keion White Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones Malik Cunningham Matthew Judon Patriots

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