The start of Patriots Training Camp is just days away and there has been a lot of change in the team’s roster than how it looked in February when the team won their sixth Lombardi trophy. The Patriots have a lot of depth throughout the roster and should be a couple compelling battles throughout camp for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
Quarterbacks (3)- Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jarred Stidham: The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft and don’t think they’d be comfortable having him as the only option behind Tom Brady, especially with veteran Brian Hoyer on the roster.
Running Back (6)- Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, James Develin (Fullback): The first three guys listed and Develin are locks to make the roster and expect all three to contribute this year, and with his contract I expect Bolden to be a lock as well and be a key contributor on special teams. The only potential question when it comes to this grouping is Rex Burkhead, who the team could choose to cut or trade due to his injury history and depth at the position, but expect the team to hold on to.
Wide Receiver (5)- Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Braxton Berrios, Dontrelle Inman, Demaryius Thomas (PUP): The wide receiver battle in training camp and preseason is going to be an interesting one to watch as really no one besides Edelman and Harry are true locks to make the roster. Dorsett has been a solid contributor and a very consistent player when given the opportunity the past two seasons and expect him to make the team. After that the team could go in several different directions. Berrios had an impressive minicamp and hopes to become the heir slot receiver to Julian Edelman that the Patriots have struck out on finding the past few off-season’s with guys like Austin Carr and Riley McCarron. Inman didn’t have a good minicamp but has been a steady veteran his whole career and could add some size to the Patriots receiving core. The team could keep both, one, or neither Berrios or Inman and instead keep a player like Maurice Harris who had a good minicamp or Jakobi Meyers, who the team signed as an undrafted rookie free agent. Demaryius Thomas has reportedly been making positive strides towards being ready to play week one but I expect the veteran wideout to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start the seaosn to fully recover from a torn achillies he suffered in December. Also, maybe a hopeful and potential Josh Gordon reinstatement at some point?
Tight End (2)-Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, Ben Watson (Suspended): The position with the most change following Rob Gronkowski’s retirement. Izzo has no NFL experience and LaCosse has virtually no experience, and with Watson being suspended the first four games for a PED violation I don’t see the tight end position being one to have any impact during that time.
Offensive Line (8)-Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Ted Karras, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Frodholdt: 2018 first round pick Isaiah Wynn is likely to fill the big shoes of Trent Brown who signed with the Raiders this offseason. Wynn is recovering from an achillies injury he suffered that forced him to miss all of last season. Karras and Froholdt both have the ability to play guard and under center, while Cajuste is likely to be the teams backup tackle. Cole Croston is a name who could also make this list depending on how many lineman the team decides to keep.
Defensive Line (8)-Adam Butler, Danny Shelton, Deatrich Wise, Michael Bennett, Chase Winovich, Mike Pennel, Lawrence Guy, John Simon: I loved the Patriots pick of Chase Winovich, who was great at Michigan both against the run and as a pass rusher despite being a little undersized. Both Winovich and Wise should be solid contributors at defensive end opposite Michael Bennett, who the team acquired this offseason in a trade with the Eagles.
Linebacker (5)-Donta’ Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts: This is the best the Patriots linebacking core has been in several years entering the season. Kyle Van Noy had a fantastic 2018 season and looks to continue that in 2019. The team brought back Jamie Collins this offseason after spending the last few seasons in Cleveland and he reportedly looked great during minicamp. Bentley was the star of training camp and preseason last year and got off to a good start in the regular season before suffering a torn biceps in week 3 that ended his season. If Bentley can get back to the form he was showing last year he could be in line for a great season.
Cornerback (7)-Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Joejuan Williams, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson, Keion Crossen: The best depth the Patriots have by far is at the cornerback position. Keeping seven corners is a lot but you can never have enough good corners in the NFL. I can’t wait to see the progression of J.C. Jackson and how good of a corner he could be building off his great rookie season. The selection of Williams in the second round of this year’s draft was somewhat surprising given the depth the team had at corner; but Williams is a big, physical corner who can also lineup at Safety and also be a potential Stephon Gilmore replacement in the future with his cap number being over $18 and $19 million in 2020 and 2021 or if the team decides to not bring him back when his contract is up after 2021 with the young pieces they have at the position. The Patriots may have the best cornerback group in the NFL.
Safety (4)-Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner: Ebner gets the nod over Terrence Brooks and Obi Melifonwu due to his special teams play. Melifonwu has a lot of potential as a former second round pick just two years ago and the team could see enough promise and potential in him to keep him on the roster.
Special Teams (5)-Stephen Gostkowski, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater, Brandon King: At one point Ryan Allen was actually in the conversation for Super Bowl MVP against the Rams, but with the Patriots moving up in the draft to select Bailey there must be something that they see in Bailey that they like. Releasing Allen would also save the team $1.4 million in cap space.