The preseason is over and the cutdown will take place Saturday, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have time to offer one last peak at what we feel will be the final roster.
Things will be fluid all weekend – as evidenced by today’s trade of Duke Dawson – but here is Patriots Unfiltered’s roster projection 4.0
Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham
I’ve gone back and forth all summer on this and I’ve settled on keeping all three. Stidham played well in the preseason but Hoyer’s experience likely allows him to stick around as the top backup. He was credited for his preparation work last year and that likely will be a large part of the reason if he sticks this time around as well. This one could go either way.
Running back (5)
Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden
This is one of the more straightforward positions on the roster. Harris looks like he might be able to take some carries to ease the load on Michel while Burkhead provides versatility. White’s ability out of the backfield has been a staple of the offense for years.
Develin remains a key part of the offense with his physicality and toughness and will remain in his role as the lead blocker.
Wide receiver (6)
Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, N'Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers
Getting the Big 3 of Edelman, Gordon and Thomas some game action against the Giants provided a glimpse of some of the formations that Josh McDaniels might be able to bring – and overall it was positive. Dorsett appears safe as a complementary piece, and the final spot (if there is one) might come down to Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. The latter has provided a boost in the return game and has a motor that won’t quit. Both would be practice squad candidates if they don’t make it.
Tight end (2)
Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, Ben Watson
LaCosse showed signs of being capable of contributing in the passing game and then injured his ankle and hasn’t played since. Izzo is more of a blocker but flashes some pass-catching ability at times. Watson hasn’t had a strong summer and is suspended for the first four games. Not sure where he fits after the suspension. Lance Kendricks is also suspended for Week 1 but could return thereafter. Stephen Anderson and Andrew Beck haven’t done anything to earn spots. Look for Bill Belichick to add here soon.
Offensive line (8)
Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, Ted Karras, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Korey Cunningham, Jermaine Eluemunor, David Andrews
Belichick is obviously concerned about Andrews and the lack of depth up front based on the two trades he swung this week. The newcomers should stick to provide some insurance – and perhaps eventually push the starters. If Andrews can return he would need to be on the roster initially before being placed on injured reserve (in order to be eligible to return). Hjalte Froholdt struggled all summer and left the Giants game with an injury. He could land on IR depending on the severity. James Ferentz has also struggled but could stick as a backup center (perhaps returning after Andrews is moved to IR).
Defensive line (6)
Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Danny Shelton, Byron Cowart, Deatrich Wise
The defense is much tougher to predict than the offense. The front seven has the ability to feature a variety of looks and depending on how edge guys like John Simon are used that might mean trouble for Wise. Wise has been productive in his two seasons and could provide depth as a 4-3 defensive end. Cowart has outplayed him and deserves to stick around. Ufomba Kamalu, Nick Thurman and David Parry are on the outside looking in.
Edge/outside linebacker (4)
Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, John Simon, Chase Winovich,
Injuries took away some of the potential completion here as Derek Rivers, Shilique Calhoun and Trent Harris all missed time with various maladies. Rivers in particular appeared to be in the mix but his status is uncertain after leaving the Titans game in Week 2.
Inside linebacker (3)
Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts
Roberts is the wild card and he could be used as a trade chip to add a piece elsewhere (tight end?). Calvin Munson could replace him, and while he doesn’t have Roberts’ ability to perform on defense he may be a better fit on special teams. Terez Hall, Christian Sam and newcomer Scooby Wright will have a tough time cracking the lineup.
Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams
Duke Dawson’s trade to Denver clears up a crowded cornerback picture and allows Keion Crossen to stick around as a special teamer. The rest of this depth chart is as talented and deep as the Patriots have had. Williams’ audition at safety in the final preseason game even adds some depth to the back end. Rookie Ken Webster’s athleticism could land him on the practice squad.
Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks
This group appears set with Obi Melifonwu and A.J. Howard looking like the odd men out. Brooks is solid on special teams and provides insurance at safety, giving him a leg up. Rookie Malik Gant went down with an injury in the Giants game and could land on IR.
Special teams (6)
Stephen Gostkowski, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner, Keion Crossen
The specialists are set, as is Slater as the corps’ leader. Ebner could be on the bubble but has been productive in his role over the years. Crossen’s athleticism and strong tackling give him another spot, but Olszewski could also land here as a return specialist.