If it seems like there are a lot of rookies on the Patriots 53-man roster heading into the 2013 season, there is a really good reason for that. Because there are a lot of rookies on the roster, more than was the case heading into any other season in New England in more than a decade.
As of Tuesday morning the Patriots had 14 rookies – including draft picks, undrafted rookies and undrafted rookies claimed off waivers – on the 53-man roster. According to the Boston Globe, New England has more rookies (14) and more undrafted rookies (7) than any other team in the NFL at this point.
Using the opening game press releases available online through the Patriots media relations department dating back to the 2003 season it makes it very clear that this year's rookie class is far larger than anything we've seen in New England in quite some time.
Prior to this season the most rookies on an opening day roster was when Bill Belichick's team carried 11 in 2010. That came a year after New England had 10 rookies to open the season.
Before this year those were the only two years in which the Patriots had double-digit rookies to open the season, and both fall well shy of the 14 rookies in town to open 2013.
Belichick's actually had as few as four rookies on the roster (2007).
The average over the last 10 seasons prior to this year's big crop of rookies was 7.5.
So Belichick is essentially keeping nearly twice as many rookies as normal this fall.
Did the coach have a specific plan as he was constructing his roster this summer? Did he want to get younger by carrying so many rookies?
"No," he responded adamantly in his Monday press conference, "we want to win. That's what we're here for. We kept the players that we feel give us the best chance to be competitive this year. That's what our job is."