Tag Archives: New England Patriots

Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Pre-Training Camp Edition

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.

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Auburn vs Central Florida
via theathletic.com

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.

usa today
via waaf.com

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?

berrios
via lastwordonprofootball.com

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.

NFL: AUG 16 Preseason - Eagles at Patriots
via gettyimages.com

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.

Wini draft blaster
via draftblaster.com

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.

Bentley projo
via providencejournal.com

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.

JC eagle tribune
via eagletribune.com

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.

 

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2019 Patriots 7-Round Mock Draft

The NFL Draft is just over a week away on April 25th and the Patriots have had a busy offseason that included the departures of key pieces of their Super Bowl winning team such as Rob Gronkowski, Trey Flowers, Trent Brown, and Chris Hogan.  The Patriots currently have 12 selections and would expect them to make several trades during the draft.

This seven-round mock draft was conducted on FanSpeak.com using their mock draft simulator. I used the ‘Big Board’ rankings done by Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, with ‘NFL Mock’ for team needs, on the difficult draft setting.  Some players may be ranked higher in other rankings and projections and post combine.

 

Round 1 pick 32: Dexter Lawrence, Defensive Lineman, Clemson

Defensive tackle was the Patriots most inconsistent position last season, with both Malcolm Brown and Danny Shelton having their share of struggles and healthy scratches from the 46-man game day roster.

Dexter Lawrence was a big contributor to the vaunted Clemson defensive line despite missing time at the end of the season due to a PED suspension. Lawrence has great size at 6’4 340lbs and could be the force in the middle of the line the Patriots defense was desperately needing at times during the 2018 season. Lawrence could step in and be a starter and key contributor right away.

Lawrence 247sports
via 247sports.com

Round 2 pick 56: Deebo Samuel, Wide Receiver, South Carolina 

As I write this the Patriots just signed Demaryius Thomas, who I HATE as a player but like the move due to the Patriots current receiving core. Even with the signing of Thomas I would like to see the Pats add a WR early and Samuel has the ability to play both the slot and outside receiver positions and play special teams. It’s still unsure the status of Josh Gordon and if he will be eligible to play next year, and after losing Chris Hogan to the Carolina Panthers depth and talent at the wide receiver position is a major area of need. New England held an official private workout with Samuel last week where Samuel later posted a video on Instagram outside Gillette Stadium saying “Hey Billy. I’ll see you in a month, my man,” which could mean there’s interest on both sides and the private workout and meeting went well.

Samuel GamecocksOnline
via gamecocksonline.com

Round 2 pick 64: Zach Allen, EDGE Rusher, Boston College

The Patriots added Michael Bennett in a trade with the Eagles, and also lost arguably their best defensive player in Trey Flowers to the Lions which makes defensive end still an area of need. Allen has good size that gives him versatility to play the interior and exterior of the defensive line and plays well as a pass rusher and run stopper. Allen had great production with 15 tackles for loss in 2018.

Zach-Allen Getty
via gettyimages.com

Round 3 pick 73: Jace Sternberger, Tight End, Texas A&M

The Patriots offense took a massive blow with the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. I liked the signing of Austin-Sefarian Jenkins but would still like to see the tight end position addressed during the draft. Jace Sternberger had a great 2018 season, his first at Texas A&M after transferring from JUCO, with 48 catches for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns. Sternberger only had one year of production which could be a red flag to teams, and is essentially just a receiving tight end and doesn’t offer much as a blocker. Sternberger’s size and skill set would help the Patriots offense stretch the field. Sternberger is also a player who had a private workout with the Patriots.

sternberger
via kbtx.com

Round 3 Pick 97: Taylor Rapp, Safety, Washington

I would be surprised if Rapp was available at this point in the draft, but if he is would be a great pick for New England. Rapp is a similar type player to Patrick Chung, who just signed a contract extension with the Patriots, as someone who can cover backs and tight ends in the passing game, and can also play close to the line of scrimmage and is good in run support. Rapp is someone who could contribute now as well as sit and learn and be the safety of the future for the Patriots.

Rapp 247sports.com
via 247sports.com

Round 3 pick 101: Jarrett Stidham, Auburn, Quarterback

Stidham is one of several quarterbacks the Patriots have had in for private workouts. I would love for the Patriots to be able to take West Virginia QB Will Grier, but he was already off the board in this simulation. Stidham had a good 2017 but struggled some in 2018, but has good different skill sets with his mobility, quick release, and being able to throw on the run with good accuracy. Skills that Josh McDaniels seems to value when drafting quarterbacks, and could be someone McDaniels likes as a potential QB of the future for the likely head coach of the future.

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Auburn vs Central Florida
via theathletic.com

Round 4 pick 134: David Sills, West Virginia, Wide Receiver

Sills is a big body, outside receiver who was a great red zone threat during his time at West Virginia. Sills was a second team All-American in 2017 and led the country with 18 touchdown receptions, and was a third team All-American in 2018 finishing second in the country with 15 touchdown receptions. Sills is a true down field receiver who could help stretch the Patriots offense and be a valuable piece in the red zone.

Sills smokingmusket.com
via smokingmusket.com

Round 6 pick 205: Bryce Love, Stanford, Running Back

Running back is not an area of need for the Patriots after selecting Sony Michel in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and having backs James White and Rex Burkhead on the roster, but being able to grab someone like Love at this point in the draft would be a steal. Love was a Heisman finalist several times during his years at Stanford and put up great numbers before tearing his ACL on the final play of his college career. The Patriots could select Love and place him on Injured Reserve to let him fully recover and team up with Michel to be be a part of the offense for the 2020 season and beyond.

Love Yahoo Sports
via sports.yahoo.com

Round 7 pick 239: Mitch Hyatt, Clemson, Offensive Tackle

Hyatt was a four year starter at Clemson and was a part of two National Championship winning teams and was the anchor of Clemson’s line during that time. The Patriots lost LaAdrian Waddle and Trent Brown in free agency and could use depth at tackle, especially with last years first round pick Isaiah Wynn set to be the starter after missing all of last season with a torn Achilles.

Hyatt greenvilleonline
via greenvilleonline.com

 

Round 7 pick 243: Alex Bars, Guard, Notre Dame

Bars missed most of the 2018 season after suffering an ACL and MCL injury against Stanford. Bars has good size at 6’6 315lbs and could give flexibility at both guard and tackle.

 

Round 7 pick 246: Kingsley Keke, Defensive Line, Texas A&M

Keke has the ability and skill set to go with his size to play both defensive tackle and defensive end, after dropping 20 pounds to be more of an edge player. Keke had a breakout senior year with 51 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 7 sacks. Keke is another player who had a private workout with the Patriots and provides the versatility that the Patriots value.

Keke 12thman.com
via 12thman.com

Round 7 pick 252: Justin Hollins, Edge Rusher, Oregon

I don’t see the Patriots using all 12 draft picks that they currently have and could package some picks to move around the board, but projecting as they currently stand the Patriots add depth at pass rusher with their second of four seventh round picks. Hollins has good size at 6’4 240lbs with good speed for his size that would allow him to play special teams and potentially be a situational pass rusher.

 

 

 

 

Patriots Win in Thriller vs. Chiefs

The Patriots are coming off their most impressive victory of the season defeating the now formerly undefeated Kansas City Chiefs and second-year phenom quarterback Patrick Mahomes by a score of 43-40. Even with the close score and game-winning field goal by Stephen Gostkowski as time expired, the game never seemed as close as the score made it out to be.

 

The Patriots got out to a big lead in the first half taking a 24-9 lead in to halftime. Mahomes got off to a rocky start and looked like the bright lights of playing against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in Gillette Stadium in primetime with the whole country watching may have been too much for him. Mahomes missed some easy passes that led to three Kansas City first half field goals, as well as a first quarter interception that went directly to Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower. For the Patriots the offense seemed to click almost from the very start. After turning the ball over on downs following a missed fourth down conversion on the offense’s first possession of the game, the Patriots scored on four straight possessions which included two Sony Michel rushing touchdowns and Julian Edelman’s first receiving touchdown of the season in his second game back returning from his four-game suspension.

usa today
via usatoday.com

 

The Chiefs came out firing in the second half and put on an offensive clinic much like they have all season. On the Chiefs first possession of the third quarter Mahomes connected with running back Kareem Hunt for a 67-yard touchdown after beating Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty down the sideline, a play that game Patriots fans flashbacks of last season’s opener against Kansas City where Hunt ran free all over the Patriots defense in his NFL debut. While the Chiefs offense came out hot, the Patriots came out quite the opposite only putting up three points in the third quarter. It appeared that the Patriots and Tom Brady were trying to get wide receiver Josh Gordon more familiarity in the offense as Brady appeared to be looking for Gordon a lot in both the first and third quarters, and at one point had more targets than both Edelman and Rob Gronkowski had combined.

 

The Chiefs speed again appeared to give the Patriots defense problems in the fourth quarter. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill left Patriots safety Devin McCourty in his tracks as Hill ran around the end zone until becoming open for a one-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes which gave the Chiefs their first lead since the beginning of the first quarter. The Patriots then drove down the field to retake the lead on a touchdown from Brady who scrambled out of the backfield and dove across the end zone for a 37-33 lead. Following a Patriots field goal that made it a seven point game the Chiefs got the ball back with a little over three minutes left to play looking to march down the field and tie the game. Tyreek Hill’s speed appeared to be too much for the Patriots defense again as Mahomes connected with Hill for a 75-yard touchdown on the team’s first play wasting only 12 seconds of the game clock. With three minutes left on the clock and the game on the line Tom Brady did Tom Brady things, leading his team down the field for a game-winning score. Brady connected with Gronkowski to get the ball deep into Chiefs territory to set up a 28-yard game-winning field goal for kicker Stephen Gostkowski, which he made with ease.

usa today
via waaf.com

The Patriots will have another tough battle this upcoming week against the Chicago Bears, who despite losing to the Brock Osweiler led Miami Dolphins in overtime, have one of the leagues top defenses led by all-pro Khalil Mack.

Preseason Game Four Preview: The Battle For A Roster Spot

The Patriots will take on the Giants tonight in the teams preseason finale before starting up the regular season. Before the start of the regular season comes roster cut-downs, which takes place Saturday, where the Patriots have to cut down the 90-man roster down to 53. The team has already made some cuts releasing wide receiver Eric Decker and safety Eddie Pleasant earlier in the week. It is assumed that most, if not all starters will not play tonight leaving bottom of the roster and roster bubble guys to show what they can do, and make one final push to make the final 53-man roster.

NFL: AUG 09 Preseason - Redskins at Patriots
via gettyimages.com

Riley McCarron and Devin Lucien

The Patriots wide receiving corps has gotten a lot of attention this summer as it is one of the weakest the team has had in recent years. With Julian Edelman slated to miss the first four weeks of the season due to suspension, the Patriots seem to only have three wide receivers who are locks to make the roster and contribute early on in the season in Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson. Only having three wide receivers is weak enough as it is, but having Dorsett as your number two and Patterson at your three is a sign of concern for many different reasons. I find it hard to believe that the Patriots would only carry three receivers and would add a fourth if not strictly for depth purposes incase of injury and expect that battle to come down to Riley McCarron and Devin Lucien. Both guys had good training camps, but have gotten limited action in the preseason so far. Lucien had a good performance against the Redskins having four catches for 71 yards, and then had no catches in the following two games in very limited action. Meanwhile, McCarron had no receptions against Washington and only one catch against Philadelphia and then four catches for 49 yards against Carolina and had gotten some snaps on the field with Brady, as well as contributed as a returner on special teams.   If it comes down to these two I would expect McCarron to make the roster due to his special teams contributions, as well as a better fit into the offense as a true slot receiver. I would also expect the Patriots to try moving rookie Braxton Berrios to the practice squad to develop more after not playing in the previous two preseason games.

davis 247
via 247sports.com

Keionta Davis

The defensive line is one of the biggest strengths and area of depth that the Patriots have, which makes it even harder fight for Davis to earn a roster spot. Davis has seen a lot of reps with the first team defense during the preseason as a situational pass rusher. Davis shined against the Eagles picking up 1.5 sacks and applying constant pressure. Davis was then quiet the following week against the Panthers where the Patriots seemed to struggle in every area of the game. In a game where I would not expect to see Trey Flowers or Adrian Clayborn, Davis should get plenty of opportunity to show why he is deserving of a roster spot.

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via bostonherald.com

Cyrus Jones and Jason McCourty

By now everyone knows the struggle Cyrus Jones had his rookie season and then tore his ACL prior to the start of his second season. Jones got his first action of the preseason last week where he contributed as on defense and as a returner. The talent is still there with Jones and has yet to be seen as both a corner and returner and could be too early to give up on the third year player. McCourty was one of the teams big offseason acquisitions, and has looked terrible up to this point in the preseason. After getting beat for a bad touchdown against the Eagles in week 2, McCourty played at both corner and safety last week against Carolina where he again struggled. As it looks McCourty might have a better shot at making the roster as a safety rather than a corner due to the depth the team has and how bad he has looked there. I want to see both of these guys get a lot of reps tonight as I believe they are potentially fighting against one another for a spot on the final roster. Something that wouldn’t be surprising is if the Patriots did release McCourty prior to the final 53-man roster cutdown and then brought him back at a lower salary.

NFL: AUG 16 Preseason - Eagles at Patriots
via gettyimages.com

Offensive Line

With the news of first round pick Isaiah Wynn tearing his Achilles and likely being out for the year the Patriots are going to have to look elsewhere to fill the fourth offensive tackle position. The team has a number of journeyman and castoff veterans who are now fighting for that spot including Ulrick John, Matt Tobin, Cole Croston and Luke Bowanko. I give the upper edge to John, who has been a veteran in the league and had flexibility to be able to play both inside and outside on the offensive line. Croston spent time with the Patriots last year and due to familiarity between him and the team could earn the spot.

Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection

The Patriots have played two preseason games so far and have had several players stand out in an attempt to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster. Many things can change over the next few weeks and the final two preseason games, but here is my projection for the Patriots week 1 53-man roster.

 

Quarterback: (2) Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer

No surprised here with only Brady and Hoyer making the roster at quarterback. Etling hasn’t shown near enough to be considered for a spot on the roster, but would expect the Patriots to keep Etling around on the practice squad if no one else claims him.

 

Runningback: (6) James White, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, Jeremy Hill, Brandon Bolden, James Develin

Another position group with no real surprises. At this point the biggest question at the running back position is the health of first round pick Sony Michel, who hasn’t practiced in about two weeks with a knee injury. Jeremy Hill has far outplayed Mike Gillislee in the first two preseason games and looks deserving of a roster spot.

Decker 247 sports
via 247sports.com

Wide Receiver: (5) Julian Edelman*, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Matthew Slater, Eric Decker

This is the weakest wide receiving core the Patriots have had in some time. Outside of Chris Hogan and Matthew Slater, who is used mostly on special teams, there is no real lock for anyone else to make the roster with Edelman suspended for the first four weeks of the season. Dorsett was on the team last year and has gotten reps with the first team during the preseason and would expect to make the team. Patterson has shown some flashes on offense, as well as offers value in special teams as a returner. The last receiver spot will likely come down to Eric Decker or Kenny Britt. Decker has struggled in the preseason and training camp, but I give him the edge over Britt due to the fact that Britt hasn’t been able to get on the field due to injuries. Devin Lucien, Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron are names to watch for who could make a push for a roster spot during the final two preseason games.

 

Tight End: (3) Rob Gronkowski, Jacob Hollister, Dwayne Allen

No real surprises here as I believe all three of these players are locks to make the roster. The only way I could see this changing would be if the Patriots want to save money and get rid of Dwayne Allen and his $5 million salary and cap hit.

Trent Brown espn
via ESPN.com

Offensive Lineman: (8) Trent Brown, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, La’Adrian Waddle, Ted Karras, Ulrick John

The loss of first round pick Isaiah Wynn hurts the depth of the offensive line group, as it was beginning to look like Wynn was going to contribute early for the Patriots. Trent Brown has looked phenomenal so far and looks like he could be an upgrade to Nate Solder, who the Patriots lost in free agency. I believe the first seven guys listed are locks as they were all members of the team last year outside of Brown. Ulrick John has looked decent in limited action so far in the preseason and offers flexibility being able to play at tackle and the interior of the offensive line. Guys like Cole Croston and Luke Bowanko could be in play for the final offensive lineman spot.

Masslive DEs
via masslive.com

Defensive End: (5) Trey Flowers, Adrian Clayborn, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise Jr., Keionta Davis

Clayborn, Rivers and Wise have all played really well so far in preseason and throughout training camp and are all locks to make the roster, as well as Trey Flowers. Keionta Davis is someone who Belichick seems to like and has spoken very highly of. Davis played a lot in the Patriots second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and did a good job of generating pressure. Davis has the flexibility to play inside and outside and generate pressure from both, and has an opportunity to be a name people wouldn’t expect to make the 53-man roster.

 

Defensive Tackle: (4) Danny Shelton, Malcolm Brown, Adam Butler, Lawrence Guy

Shelton has looked great so far this summer and looks to be a big contributor to the Patriots defense. Both Shelton and Brown are in the final year of their contracts and look to have big years. Both Butler and Guy played well last year and offer flexibility being able to play all over the defensive line, with Butler being more of a pass rusher and Guy more of a run stopper. Vincent Valentine is currently on the roster bubble and could push someone like Keionta Davis off the roster.

 

Linebacker: (6) Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Marquis Flowers, Elandon Roberts, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Brandon King

Hightower and Van Noy were obvious locks going into the season and have played well in limited action so far. The name of the preseason Ja’Whaun Bentley also looks like a lock after playing fantastic in the Patriots two preseason games so far, has been all over the field and returned a fumble for a touchdown against the Eagles. Bentley has been getting reps with the first team defense and if he continues to improve and translate his preseason success to the regular season will be a big contributor to the Patriots defense. Flowers and Roberts have been apart of the Patriots defense and expect them to make the team, as well as King who is used on special teams.

jmac nesn
via nesn.com

Cornerback: (6) Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones

The Patriots have a lot of bodies at the cornerback position and could go in many different ways. Jason McCourty was a big name acquisition this offseason but so far his play hasn’t translated to the buzz around him going into camp, and got beat badly on a touchdown last week against the Eagles. I expect him to stick around but am beginning to question the impact and role he could play. I think the real question comes with Jonathan Jones and Cyrus Jones, both who started off on the PUP list . Jonathan Jones played well last year as the teams primary slot corner before being injured, and then the team selected Duke Dawson in the second round of the NFL Draft, who was primarily a slot corner in college and has looked good in training camp so far and has been dealing with a small injury himself. Cyrus Jones was terrible on defense and special teams his rookie year, then missed his second year after tearing his ACL. I think it would be too early to move on from Cyrus after only seeing what he could do for one year really.

 

Safety: (5) Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner, Eddie Pleasant

McCourty, Chung, and Harmon are all locks and key members of the Patriots defense, as well as Ebner being a lock as a core member of the special teams. Eddie Pleasant has played decently in the first two preseason games, and I just absolutely hate Jordan Richards and will not give him a spot on my projection. So congrats Eddie Pleasant for not being Jordan Richards.

 

Specialists: (3) Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona

No surprises here as this has been the core the past few years and haven’t seen much out of Corey Bojorquez.

 

Is Eric Decker a Lock for the Patriots Roster?

(Photo: Bostonsportsjournal.com)

By: Jake Mackey

As the first preseason game approaches, teams are starting to get a grasp of what they have on their roster and what positions need addressing. For Bill Belichick, it seems as though he is now on the same page as his fan base in realizing that his wide receiver depth chart is paper thin. With the releases of Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell in the past week, signing one or multiple receivers needed to be a priority for Bill Belichick and he did so by signing veteran Eric Decker.

I like this move a lot because it is perfect for what they need right now. They offered a long-time receiver who has had a lot of success in the league a chance to make another NFL roster.

I just say to take some precaution, because a lot of fans are taking this signing as the complete fix to the wide receiver issue. The way the contract is set up does not even guarantee Decker a spot on the 53-man roster come week one.

$75K guaranteed is nothing in today’s NFL. It is essentially compensation for a tryout. How long that tryout lasts is up to Bill Belichick and whether or not he believes Decker has anything left in the tank, because his stats over the past two years certainly show signs of a decline.

In 2016 Decker suffered a shoulder injury early on that caused him to miss all but three games, and last year in Tennessee he had a decent year for a number two or three receiver with 54 receptions, for 563 yards, and one touchdown. He did have a decent game against the Patriots in the divisional round racking up six receptions, for 85-yards. In Foxborough, he would need to be the number one receiver for at least the first four weeks given the lack of talent on the current roster.

Chris Hogan is not a number one receiver and should not be expected to play like one. He was signed as a third or fourth option and has had the talent around him to be that since he has been in New England.

Personally, I would love if Belichick took a flyer on Dez Bryant. Yes he is a head case, but you can get him on a cheaper contract, probably with more guaranteed dollars than Decker, and the reward would be far higher, because when he was at his best four-years ago he was the best receiver in the league.

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Dez GIF 2

(GIF Credits: Giphy.com, NESN.com)

Wide Receiver Battle Heats Up On Day Three Of Training Camp

Today was day three of Patriots training camp and the first day where players were allowed to be in full pads and make contact. While today’s session was less physical and fast paced as previous years there were several players and areas that stood out.

Defensive backs Duron Harmon and Ryan Lewis both had very good days with Lewis making several nice pass breakups in the beginning parts of the day. Harmon had a good first two days of camp and continued to build on that today picking off Brian Hoyer in the end zone, which in a game situation likely would have been a pick six, as well as intercepting a pass from Tom Brady in the back of the end zone that was intended for tight end Rob Gronkowski. These sessions were far from perfect as both the entire offense and defense ended up taking a lap for mistakes, as well as rookie running back Sony Michel taking a solo lap for a fumble down towards the goal line. All three quarterbacks were not sharp today as rookie Danny Etling struggled for the majority of practice, and Brady and Hoyer throwing the aforementioned interceptions.

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One thing that really stood out to me today was the play of the Patriots wide receiving corps. This is an area where the team has a lot of questions with heading into the season, which is a problem the team hasn’t had in several years. Earlier this week I discussed how the battle at wide receiver is one that is going to be interesting to watch, and over the first three days of training camp that stands true. Devin Lucien made maybe the play of training camp so far making a tremendous catch in the end zone over a heavily contested Jason McCourty and made sure to drag both feet down before falling out of bounds. Offseason acquisitions Jordan Matthews and Cordarrelle Patterson both had very good days of camp working with both Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer. Patterson made a very nice catch in the end zone from Brady during 11 on 11 drills, and Matthews got some good work in with Brady making several sideline catches during 11 on 11 drills and seems to be looking more comfortable with Brady and the offense. Riley McCarron also had a nice day at camp making some catches and showing off his route running ability. With Julian Edelman suspended the first four games of the season the Patriots are going to be looking for guys to step up in his absence, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of these guys more throughout training camp and the preseason to see who will win out a spot on the final 53-man roster and potentially make a big impact this season.

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Other guys who had good practices today were Trent Brown and Deatrich Wise Jr.. Brown has been starting at left tackle the first three days of camp, but with no contact the first two days was tough to get a true read on how he and all the lineman on both sides of the ball were looking. Brown did a great job of setting the edge on both running and passing plays and looks to be fitting in to his new role at left tackle quite nicely. Wise made some nice plays throughout the day, including a play where he absolutely crushed running back Jeremy Hill. Wise has had a good three days of camp so far and looks to improve on his good rookie season and take on a bigger role in the Patriots defense.

Late during the practice session defensive end Trey Flowers left the field after a big hit during a goal line play. Flowers stayed on the ground for a few seconds before getting back on his feet. A few players grabbed him by his face mask and looked into his face, from where I was sitting looked like they were looking for possible concussion signs. Flowers went off to the sideline and took his helmet off and talked with trainers before jogging off the field, and later reported that he suffered a cut on his face and had a towel covering his eye while jogging off the field, which is a much better sign than any possible concussion symptoms if that is indeed the case.

W’re only three days into camp and will be a lot more to see and watch for as physicality and level of intensity picks up over the next few weeks.

 

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