With training camp rapidly approaching, Patriots fans are getting ready and anticipating the upcoming battles for roster spots that makes the month of August so exciting. This year more than in recent years, there will be an abundance of Patriots competing for jobs. With so much upcoming competition, it is time for the annual 53 man roster projection before training camp. Here is how I think the roster will look come week one against Pittsburgh.
Quarterback: Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Flynn.
The expectations seems to be that Tom Brady will miss some game time in 2015. Whether it is four games or one game, odds are he won’t be on the field opening night. He will need to hand it over to Jimmy Garoppolo, with Matt Flynn providing solid insurance behind him.
Running Back: Brandon Bolden, Travaris Cadet, James Develin, Tyler Gaffney, Jonas Gray.
For most of the season, LeGarrette Blount will be the main running back in the Patriots offense, but in week one he will be suspended for violating the league’s drug policy. Behind him will be a plethora of running backs fighting for game time. Brandon Bolden and Jonas Gray will battle it out for touches in the, “power back” category, along with Travaris Cadet and James White fighting for the, “Pass catching back.” Tyler Gaffney is an unknown right now, he seems to have the ability to contribute in both roles. James Develin as always is the reliable fullback/tight end hyrbid. I see a rookie like Dion Lewis landing on the practice squad.
Wide Receiver: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Brandon Gibson.
Not many surprises here. Aaron Dobson will make the roster, now that he is fully healthy he can really show his ability. Brian Tyms gets chopped here because of his lack of versatility. He can run one route and that is about it. You can’t make a living off the go route unless your name is Randy Moss. Brandon Gibson has shown that he can provide a little bit more of a spark than Tyms.
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, AJ Derby.
I have seen Michael Hoomanawanui as a player that has been on the chopping block all offseason. I personally thought he would be gone by now. Maybe their method is to let, “Hoo-Man” play out training camp and try to prove himself. If he shows anything, theres a small possibility they get a draft pick for him. If not he gets cut. A 1.5 million dollar cap hit is too much for a run blocker. James Develin can take over that role. Jake Bequette will be interesting to say the least, however I don’t believe he will impress enough.
Tackle: Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer, Cameron Fleming.
With Tom Brady’s ascending age, the Patriots ability to protect him will be pivotal in their success. With two top tier tackles they shouldn’t have a problem. In addition, Cameron Fleming is a rising talent on the offensive line. I’m not sure why Cannon is still on the team, but they love him in Foxborough. He is their utility guy that can do it all.
Guard: Ryan Wendell, Tre Jackson, Josh Kline.
With Dan Connolly gone the Patriots need insurance at the guard position, something they didn’t have when they let go of Logan Mankins last year. That was almost a detriment to the season. There will be a battle back up between Josh Kline and Jordan Devey. Neither have impressed too much over their careers, but Kline has shown at times he can step up, and Devey never has.
Center: Bryan Stork, Shaq Mason.
Bryan Stork has his starting job locked up, now he has a little back up behind him with rookie Shaq Mason. He plays both guard and center coming out of Georgia Tech. It is hard to think that Ryan Wendell will go back to center at any point given the limited amount of talent at the position.
Defensive End: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom.
There will be a lot of rotation at defensive end this season with the addition of Jabaal Sheard. It will finally give a player such as Rob Ninkovich the chance to catch his breath as oppose to playing about ninety percent of the snaps. Also, rookies Flowers and Grissom should be intriguing prospects. Grissom in particular given his athleticism he reminds you of Jamie Collins in a way. Look for Zach Moore to land on the practice squad.
Defensive Tackle: Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Sealver Siliga, Dominique Easley, Chris Jones
Another spot were there will be plenty of competition because of the loss of Vince Wilfork. Furthermore, reports have been that Zach Moore has put on significant size so look for him to receive reps at defensive tackle during camp. Joe Vellano gets cut for the second year in a row.
Linebacker: Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Dane Fletcher, Matthew Wells.
Many believe that Dont’a Hightower will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list. However, many have reported that he is ahead of schedule in his rehab leading me to believe that he will be ready. Also, keep an eye on the health of Jerod Mayo as he recovers from a torn patellar. If he doesn’t prove to be healthy look for Belichick to pick up a veteran that was cut from another team.
Cornerback: Malcolm Bulter, Logan Ryan, Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain, Darryl Roberts.
It is simple, with such as lack of talent the Patriots need all the bodies they have at cornerback. Expect all five of these players to see the field often early on as rotation will be key in figuring out which player belong on the field. Much like the offensive line at the start of last season.
Safety: Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner.
It was very clear on May 1st when the Patriots drafted Jordan Richards, they were drafting Tavon Wilson’s replacement. He is a guy that struggles in pass coverage, can play the run, and is great on special teams. Exactly like Wilson. Expect Devin McCourty to be on the field about one-hundred percent of the defensive snaps, and for Chung and Harmon to rotate depending on the situation.
Special Teams: Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater, Chris White.
After Stephen Gostkowski just inked his new contract with the Patriots should once again be in the tops of the league in special teams. Joe Cardona was the top rated long snapper in this year’s draft and his snaps have been clocked at over 40 miles per hour. That is certainly worth noting.