Patriots 53-man roster projections after Week 1 of preseason

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We have officially reached the point of the preseason where NFL rosters will begin to dwindle. As of August 16th, teams will need to get their roster down to 85 players. However, by the end of the month, on August 30th, the league rosters will take their final form.

So I am going to do what any sane football fanatic does: try to predict what Bill Belichick is thinking in his final roster, including what the depth chart could look like.

Keep in mind, all of these are barring any injuries or unforeseen events like suspensions or retirements, but I will be including trades as part of this roster construction.

Quarterbacks (3): Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe, Brian Hoyer

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It’s clear that the QB room is set for 2022, and I believe Zappe has shown enough upside to be the long-term backup to Mac Jones. Hoyer is there as a complete stop gap, but Zappe is more similar to Jones than he is to Hoyer.

Cuts: None

Running Backs (4): Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong Jr.

 

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With James White retiring, there is a clear need for a pass-catching back in this offense. Montgomery, who will also be utilized as a wideout, and Stevenson have the most upside to collect that role immediately. But Pierre Strong Jr. seems to be poised to take over the role long-term. With blazing speed and good hands, Strong could fill that role as early as mid-season.

As for the rest of the running back room, Kevin Harris is a big-bodied runner who would excel in goal line situations, but with New England having two capable backs in Damien Harris and Stevenson in the goal line, there is no need to carry Kevin Harris at this time, as he isn’t quite up to speed.

I still think he is a solid runner and will eventually be on this roster, but for 2022, he will take the typical New England redshirt season on the practice squad or IR

Cuts: Kevin Harris (Practice Squad), JJ Taylor 

Wide Receivers (6): Devante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, Tyquan Thornton, Kristian Wilkerson, Tre Nixon

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After a great camp, Nelson Agholor could be on the move to a WR-needy team, which surprisingly isn’t New England. (I didn’t think we would EVER say this here). Tyquan Thornton has shown flashes of talent outside being just a speed guy, with crisp route running, reliable hands, and deep ball tracking. With that, his skillset closely resembles Agholor’s at this point in his career, and the Patriots could clear some much-needed cap space by moving Agholor.

As for the rest of the team, Tre Nixon earns a way onto the roster due to his inside/outside versatility but also his returning upside. Wilkerson, on the other hand, has shown promise as a developmental receiver to keep on the roster. With that, both receivers are cost-effective, young, and athletic. Those are three things New England has lacked across the board, and they’ll be looking to find it in other position groups as their franchise QB will be due for a major contract in a few seasons.

Cuts: Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Josh Hammond 

Trade: Nelson Agholor for a 5th/6th

Tight Ends (3): Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Devin Asiasi

 

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With the new look offense, the Patriots have made it a point of emphasis to incorporate more of Jonnu Smith. With the money spent at tight end last offseason, Smith and Henry are easy roster locks. The tricky part comes down to their depth. New England spent high draft choices on Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, but neither have really carved out a major roll.

Keene was slated to be a FB/TE hybrid, but the changes on offense and his inability to stay on the field should spell the end for him this season. Matt Sokol, on the other hand, looks like a viable depth piece, that should make the practice squad.

Cuts: Dalton Keene, Matt Sokol (Practice Squad)

Offensive Line (8): Trent Brown, Isaiah Wynn, Justin Herron, David Andrews, Cole Strange, Mike Onwenu, James Ferentz, and Chasen Hines

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As someone who values OL depth, especially with a young QB like Mac Jones, it would be wise to keep nine on the roster. Players like Bill Murray and Arlington Hambright have had strong camps and should ultimately make it to the practice squad.

It is worth noting players like Justin Herron, Mike Onwenu and James Ferentz can play multiple positions along the line in a spell. It was worth keeping Chasen Hines, who was selected in the 2022 NFL draft in the 6th round, on the roster as he aligns closely with the new-age offense that is being installed in New England from his time at LSU. Hines started camp late due to a nagging injury but has the talent to make the roster and is one of the more athletic lineman on the field.

Cuts: Andrew Stueber (IR/Redshirt), Drew Desjarlais (Practice Squad), Will Sherman (Practice Squad), Bill Murray (Practice Squad) and Kody Russey, Arlington Hambright (Practice Squad) Yasir Durant, Yodney Cajuste (IR/PUP)

Defensive Line (4): Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise, Christian Barmore, LaBryan Ray

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LaBryan Ray was a former 5-star recruit who committed to Alabama but had major injury issues throughout his tenure. He has immediately shown how impactful he would have been if he could have stayed on the field, but it is hard not to envision a scenario where he does not make the roster.

A surprising cut on the defensive line for many would be Henry Anderson, but with the emergence of youth like Barmore, Ray and Roberts, there is value in creating some cap space and playtime space for the youth to continue their development with meaningful reps.

There has been an importance put on developing players, and if the impact is close, I think they’ll side with cost-controlled youth so that their new emphasis on development has a chance, rather than just redshirting everyone each year.

Cuts: DaMarcus Mitchell (Practice Squad), Jeremiah Pharms Jr. (Practice Squad), Carl Davis (IR/PUP), Henry Anderson

Defensive Tackle (3): Davon Godchaux, Daniel Ekuale, Sam Roberts

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Sam Roberts has shown a lot and has the size and athleticism to turn into a menace. But for now, I think he sits behind Godchaux and Ekuale with hopes his run game support develops more. Like mentioned above, meaningful reps are the only way to get that part of his game to standards. In the meantime, his pass rush upside mixed with his special teams prowess of field goal blocking should find him on the roster come September.

Cuts: N/A

Linebackers (7): Matthew Judon, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings,Ja'Whaun Bentley, Raekwon McMillan, Mack Wilson, Cam McGrone

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This one was a hard one, but I ultimately think there will be some Bill Belichick roster manipulation to put Ronnie Perkins on the IR/PUP. As for edge rushers/outside linebackers, look for the Patriots to rely on Judon, Uche, and Jennings, while McGrone and Wilson have some ability to assist on the outside when needed.

Cuts: Harvey Langi, Jahlani Tavai (Practice Squad) Nate Weiland (Practice Squad), Ronnie Perkins (IR/PUP)

CB (6) Jalen Mills, Terrance Mitchell, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones, Jack Jones, Myles Bryant

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Yes, you read that right. Malcolm Butler’s departure could be looming. Although he has had a solid camp, he isn’t consistent enough to warrant a roster spot over top performers and young draft picks that will also have some special teams upside, like Marcus Jones and Myles Bryant. With this, the Patriots may let the veteran go, or he may simply retire.

Cuts: Malcolm Butler, Shaun Wade (Practice Squad), JoeJuan Williams. Devin Hafford (Practice Squad),

Safeties (5): Devin McCourty, Joshuah Bledsoe, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Jabrill Peppers

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Joshuah Bledsoe has played extremely well thus far and has the versatility to play over the top, as well as help out in the box. Phillips, Dugger and Peppers are all excellent in their roles, and McCourty is going nowhere for this season. With that being said, there was some promise with Schooler as a versatile safety/specialist, but at this point, there may be no room for him on the roster

Cuts: Brendan Schooler (Practice Squad), Brad Hawkins , Jalen Elliott (Practice Squad)

Specialists (4): Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater, Nick Folk, Jake Bailey

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There are too many good young players with special teams upside to carry Bethel and Cody Davis on the roster, and we aren’t cutting the long snapper, kicker or punter to make room. Plus, New England could have benefitted from having dedicated specialists when Tom Brady was around, but this year, there needs to be an emphasis on cheap, versatile youth. And those young guns should earn their time by playing on special teams first.

Cuts: Cody Davis, Jake Julien (Practice Squad), Tristan Vizcaino (Practice Squad), Justin Bethel

Practice Squad (16)

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Jake Julien P

Tristan Vizcaino K

Brenden Schooler S/WR/ST

Devin Hafford DB

Jalen Elliot DB

Shaun Wade DB

Nate Weiland LB

Jahlani Tavai LB

DaMarcus Mitchell DL

Jeremiah Pharms Jr. DL

Drew Desjarlais OL

Will Sherman OL

Bill Murray OL

Arlington Hambright OL

Matt Sokol TE

Kevin Harris RB

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire