Saturday, August 9, 2014

New England Patriots' Projected 53 Man Roster - remastered...

The following is a rolling 55 man roster that will be updated as situations warrant.  Generally there are but 53 players on an active NFL roster, but the Patriots have received an exemption from the NFL to carry two extra players in advance of Brandon Browner's and Brian Tym's four game suspensions to begin the season.  

When Browner and Tyms are reinstated for Week 5 - assuming both are kept on the inactive/suspended list - they will be added to the active roster and the 54th and 55th players will be waived or an injured player can be placed on the IR.

The emergence of wide receiver Brian Tyms as a legitimate downfield threat for the New England Patriots has caused us to revisit our original projected 53 man roster - as has Bill Belichick's recent propensity for favoring the 3-4 base defensive alignment over the 4-3 defense that has been his "base" for the past four seasons.

In our previous pre-camp roster, we projected that the Patriots would keep just two quarterbacks - Tom Brady and second round draft pick Jimmy Garoppolo - and the results in the first preseason game against the Washington Redskins qualify the notion.  In fact, despite the passage of time and Belichick's multi-dimensional shift in defensive philosophy, there are only a few changes from the original:

Quarterbacks (2)

12 - Tom Brady
10 - Jimmy Garoppolo (R)

No changes from original projection

Yes, still only two quarterbacks.  This is not to say that Ryan Mallett will be traded, but the fact that he was limited in OTAs and in minicamp and was wearing a brace on his left knee was a curious development, and he didn't do himself any favors in his preseason opener meltdown.

His awkward slide at the end of a seven yard scramble against the Redskins would be the perfect excuse to land him on the PUP list to start the season - and the timing would be right as the activation of players that start the season on the PUP occurs just before the trade deadline.  He looked ok after the slide but, well, you know?  This is Bill Belichick we're talking about here. 
Rookie running back James White

Running Backs (4)

22 - Stevan Ridley
34 - Shane Vereen
28 - James White (R)
46 - James Develin

No changes from original projection

With contracts coming due on Ridley, Vereen and Brandon Bolden, it goes to figure that the Patriots are not going to be able to negotiate contracts for all three, so dumping Bolden now and training replacements for the other two is just smart business - though it is possible that Ridley and Vereen could be around beyond this year if their price is right.

Develin is looking more and more like a classic H-Back with his versatility, and will figure as a tight end as well as a fullback in this offense.

Tight Ends (3)

87 - Rob Gronkowski 
47 - Michael Hoomanawanui
45 - D. J. Williams 

No changes from original projection

Gronkowski appears to be on track for the start of the season, which clears up the tight end picture a bit.  While Gronk is an all-around force, Hooman is a decent blocker and has shown good hands in his few targets.

Williams has been in the elague for a few seasons, but has never shown the type of production that Green Bay had hoped for when spending 5th round draft capital on him in 2011.  In college, he was considered one of the top pass catching tight ends in the country. H-back James Develin factors in here as well.
Second year receiver Josh Boyce

Receivers (8)

80 - Danny Amendola 
11 - Julian Edelman 
17 - Aaron Dobson 
19 - Brandon Lafell  
85 - Kenbrell Thompkins  
18 - Matthew Slater 
82 - Josh Boyce
84- Brian Tyms (suspended 4 games)

Added Tyms since original projection

The status of Dobson's foot and the thought that his conditioning will be an issue upon his return may upset this apple cart, otherwise, this is a solid group with a good mix of individual skill sets.

New addition Lafell is a veteran who understands coverages and where the sticks are, and could be in the mix at the "move" type tight end position. Tyms has flashed in practice and came through with the performance of the night for the Patriots in the Washington loss.  Boyce and Slater figure prominently on special teams as well.

Offensive Linemen (9)

77 - Nate Solder 
70 - Logan Mankins
76 - Sebatian Vollmer
63 - Dan Connolly
61 - Marcus Cannon
67 - Josh Kline
71 - Cameron Fleming (R)   
69 - Jon Halapio (R) 
66 - Bryan Stork (R) 

Added Connolly since original projection

Noticeably absent from this list are last season's starting center, Ryan Wendell as incumbent right guard Dan Connolly has played first team center in practice and in Washington - and he will stick as the starter at the pivot until the injured Stork is ready to take over, but that may be a while if he doesn't return to camp soon.

Halapio and Fleming are rookie depth at this point as Kline has seized the right guard position. Cannon provides quality depth on the bookends and at guard in a pinch.
Defensive end Michael Buchanan (99)

Defensive linemen (10)

50 - Rob Ninkovich 
75 - Vince Wilfork 
93 - Tommy Kelly 
95 - Chandler Jones 
99 - Michael Buchanan
74 - Dominique Easley (R) 
94 - Chris Jones 
96 - Sealver Siliga
71- Zach Moore (R)

Added Moore since original projection

Siliga and Chris Jones have suffered injuries in the past week, making depth at tackle a bit light, but if the team is truly switching to more of a 3-4 base look, they are not as debilitating as the would in a 4-3 look, but they do limit the versatility of the group as a whole.

The Siliga injury also leaves Wilfork as the only true nose tackle on the roster, so the status of Siliga bears watching.  The five techs are in abundance, however, with Kelly, Chandler Jones, Moore and Easley, if he doesn't start the season on the PUP list.  Veteran 4-3 defensive end Will Smith may find a spot if Easley can't go, though his coaches in New Orleans thought of him as more of an outside linebacker.

Buchanan and Ninkovich are outside linebackers in the 3-4 but we keep them as line depth because they could fill many different roles, including Ninkovich as an edge setter as a defensive end.

Linebackers (6)

54 - Dont'a Hightower 
91 - Jamie Collins 
51 - Jerod Mayo 
45 - Steve Beauharnais
44 - Darius Fleming
55 - James Anderson

No changes from original projection

This group is being subjected to a possible change in philosophy, though the team has always featured some 3-4 and nickle elements to their base 4-3 over the past few seasons, and they have players with enough versatility to pull off a switch to a primary three man front, and also on the second level, but it's an odd mix of tweeners as far as inside or outside designations.

The starting four on the second level in a 3-4 is subject to much conjecture, as Hightower and Mayo were terrific interior defenders in college but have been playing on the outside in the Patriots' 4-3 since.  Collins is a pure strong side linebacker if there ever was one, but the weakside has been manned by Mayo for the past couple of seasons, and the only other pure weak side 'backer on the roster is newly acquired James Anderson.

Rookie free agent corner Malcolm Butler
Anderson actually is an all-around veteran talent that adds a lot of versatility to the scheme and the coaching staff likes Beauharnais a lot, and he is also versatile enough to play in the middle or on the weak side.  Fleming is a pure edge defender, and was a terrific one in college, but in both of his seasons since being drafted in the 5th round by San Francisco in 2012, he has torn the ACL in his left knee.

Corners (6)

24 - Darrelle Revis 
39 - Brandon Browner (suspended 4 games) 
26 - Logan Ryan 
37 - Alfonzo Dennard 
25 - Kyle Arrington 
29 - Malcolm Butler

No changes from original projection

Undrafted rookie free agent Malcolm Butler has a big opportunity to make the Patriots' roster - and even stick once Brandon Browner returns from his suspension. Redskins' quarterbacks targeted Butler seven times but the rookie allowed only two catches, and both of them he still had tight coverage, losing one by being outjumped and the other was just a perfect throw and a terrific catch.

The other corners are absolute locks.

Safeties (4)

30 - Duron Harmon  
32 - Devin McCourty  
23 - Patrick Chung    
27 - Tavon Wilson 

Removed Jemea Thomas since original projection

Solid group of safeties, with Chung brought back to be that intimidating presence in the middle in the nickle and dime situations. Tavon Wilson has shown an immense amount of growth in his game over the offseason, perhaps working with Revis for a month in Arizona had something to do with it.

Wilson looks decisive and brought the wood against the Redskins.  Obviously, it takes more than one game to turn around a couple of years of futility, but he's off to a good start and may end up giving Harmon a run for his money at strong safety.

Specialists (3)

6 - Ryan Allen 
3 - Stephen Gostkowski 
48 - Danny Aiken

Aiken wins out over Tyler Ott in the competition for long snapper, though Aiken will probably be on a short leash after his late season air mail struggles.  Allen and Gostkowski are as dependable as they come.

Offense: 26
Defense: 26
Specialists: 3 
Total: 55

No comments:

Post a Comment