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Pre-training camp PFW Patriots roster stock watch: Offense

Posted Jul 23, 2014

As we head into training camp PFW takes a look at the Patriots roster with a Wall Street-like eye on which players' stocks are rising, falling or holding steady.

On the cusp of Patriots Training Camp 2014 opinions regarding the New England roster are as plentiful as sunburns this time of year. Bill Belichick’s new-look team is filled with returning veterans, promising youngsters and intriguing newcomers.

Over the next month-plus those players will take part in plenty of practice action and preseason snaps in an effort to prove their value to the team and form the foundation for what’s to come in the new season.

But right now, that potential production is more a projection than an expectation. So, before the work gets underway on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, PFW takes a look at the stock of each player on the 90-man roster. Who’s on the rise? Who’s holding steady? Whose value is dropping by the day?

Today, we look at the offense and special teams talent.

Quarterback

Tom Brady No. 12 had a down year statistically a year ago – likely due to a lack of weapons and his banged up throwing hand. But with his impressive history and plenty of questions around him in the passing attack it’s hard to predict a bigger payoff in 2014. Rating: Hold

Jimmy Garoppolo The highest drafted quarterback in New England since Drew Bledsoe will have the chance to compete for the backup job as a rookie and early signs show him to be a capable professional. Rating: Buy

Ryan Mallett Brady’s top backup last season didn’t play a single snap and hasn’t wowed in practice or preseason action the last couple years. Even a strong arm can be hindered by slow reads and inaccuracy. Rating: Sell

Running Back

Brandon Bolden The former undrafted rookie has shown limited flashes of production but injuries and inconsistency have been the story of his two-plus seasons. Rating: Sell

James Develin The former defensive lineman dabbled as a tight end in spring practice and didn’t look too bad. He’s a hard working talent with versatility -- aka a Belichick-type. Rating: Buy

Roy Finch A tiny undrafted rookie, the Oklahoma back will have to show his stuff in the return game if he’s to stick around. Rating: Hold

Jonas Gray The big-armed back out of Notre Dame could vie for the job as a big-bodied backup, but it’s probably a longshot. Rating: Sell

Stephen Houston The undrafted rookie was consistent at Indiana and even showed an ability to catch the ball beyond what might be expected from a 225-pounder. He’ll compete to replace LeGarrette Blount. Rating: Buy

Stevan Ridley Entering a contract season Ridley is the only proven ball carrier on the roster. But he’s also the guy who hasn’t overcome his ball security problems and doesn’t make enough big plays. Rating: Hold

Shane Vereen As enticing a physical talent as there is given his hands and playmaking ability, Vereen has to stay healthy before all else as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. Rating: Hold

James White A sure-handed rookie ready to pick up Vereen’s slack, White should get the chance for at least a rotational role almost immediately. Rating: Buy

Tight End

Nate Byham Signed on the verge of camp the veteran with limited pass catching ability will have to get up to speed physically (ACL) and mentally with the playbook in order to compete at a very thin spot. Rating: Hold

Rob Gronkowski The former All-Pro appears poised to be ready for opening day and is seemingly due for a little good luck in the health department. When he plays he produces like almost no other. Rating: Buy

Michael Hoomanawanui New England’s second-best tight end by default, the veteran is a serviceable backup with limited potential as a target. Rating: Hold
Justin Jones The raw, massive former basketball player is simply pure potential and nothing else. Rating: Hold

Asa Watson Ben Watson’s brother had limited production in college and doesn’t seem to stand out as a likely candidate to be around beyond the summer. Rating: Sell

D.J. Williams The veteran former practice squad player never caught on in Green Bay, so expecting a year-five jump is a bit optimistic. Rating: Sell

Wide Receiver

Danny Amendola The veteran lived up to his resume in almost every sense a year ago, but not to his big free agent contract. Hard to expect much different this fall. Rating: Hold

Josh Boyce The second-year speedster was healthy and looked more confident in spring practice. He must get more consistent in his hands and route running, but a kick return job is in his future at the very least. Rating: Buy

Aaron Dobson The second-year second-round pick should be ready to explode. Unfortunately he missed the entire spring to a foot injury and may not be ready to open camp. Not ideal. Rating: Hold

Julian Edelman Can the veteran turn a single, healthy, 100-catch season into a run of pass catching success? Or was 2013 the aberration? Fair questions. Rating: Hold

Jeremy Gallon The undersized late-round rookie was highly productive at Michigan, but nothing stands out in his physical skills and the slot is a crowded spot in New England. Rating: Sell

Derrick Johnson The injury-prone Maine rookie will have to prove a lot to stand out as more than a camp body. Rating: Sell

Brandon LaFell The veteran free agent addition receiver was consistent in his four seasons in Carolina and is coming off his best season. But he also has a tendency for too many drops and missed most of the spring, neither of which is a good way to endear yourself to Brady. Rating: Hold

Tyler McDonald – The recently-signed undrafted rookie will have to get up to speed and make his mark in a short period of time. Rating: Sell

Matthew Slater A Pro Bowl special teamer, captain and team leader, Slater is a favorite of Belichick on many levels. Rating: Buy

Kenbrell Thompkins After an up-and-down rookie season the former undrafted rookie must become more consistent to earn a role and a job in his second season. Rating: Hold

Wilson Van Hooser The undrafted rookie showed plenty of hustle and competitiveness in the spring but will face an up-mountain battle to stick around. Rating: Sell

Offensive Line

Chris Barker The veteran second-year player spent last season in New England but is more of a longshot given the young players brought aboard this spring. Rating: Sell

Marcus Cannon Now in his fourth season, the veteran seems pretty entrenched as a backup at tackle. Rating: Hold

Braxston Cave Practice squader is in the very deep mix for jobs on the interior line but seems to be well down the depth chart. Rating: Sell

Dan Connolly A veteran with starting experience at center and guard, the only issue with Connolly is his $4 million cap figure. He’s probably among the best five starters if money isn’t a factor. Rating: Hold

Jordan Devey A returning practice squader facing tough odds at a pretty deep tackle spot. Rating: Sell

Cameron Fleming A true right tackle, the fourth-round pick will likely learn in the background with an eye on a future starting job. Rating: Hold
Jon Halapio A tough, physical guard with a chance to compete for playing time as a rookie sixth-round pick. Rating: Hold

Josh Kline Seemingly a developmental favorite who started a game at guard last fall, Kline is in the muddled mix of competition on the interior line. Rating: Hold

Logan Mankins Clearly the leader of the offensive line, Mankins hasn’t been quite as dominant in the last couple seasons. Look for a bounce-back year in 2014. Rating: Buy

Chris Martin An undrafted rookie with plenty of competition to deal with this summer. Rating: Hold

Nate Solder The former first-round pick is now well entrenched at left tackle and could be on the verge of Pro Bowl attention. Rating: Buy

Bryan Stork A fourth-round pick as the top center in college football last season, Stork will compete for a starting job right away. Rating: Buy

Sebastian Vollmer The veteran can be a dominating right tackle when he’s healthy. But like so many Patriots, he must stay healthy. Rating: Hold

Ryan Wendell The starting center for the last two seasons, the undersized veteran will face strong competition for his job. Given that he offers no real value anywhere but center, he could be out of work if he doesn’t nail down the center job once again. Rating: Sell

Specialists

Danny Aiken Long snappers are best off when they go unnoticed. Aiken was in the spotlight for some questionable and downright bad snaps too often last season. He’s probably on a short leash. Rating: Sell

Ryan Allen The second-year punter has no competition on the roster and is coming off a solid rookie season in which he was middle of the NFL punting pack. Rating: Buy

Stephen Gostkowski Heading into the final season of his current contract the veteran kicker is coming off his best season in New England. His leg remains a weapon on field goals and kickoffs. Rating: Buy

Tyler Ott The undrafted rookie out of Harvard is the only newcomer to the mix of specialists and has a chance to push Aiken for the job. Rating: Hold

What do you think of our stock assessments? Where are we way off base? Let us know with a comment below!

Pre-training camp PFW Patriots roster stock watch: Defense>>

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The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on the PFW Blog represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the New England Patriots organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Patriots officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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