The PatsPropaganda staff all projected their pre-Training Camp 53-man rosters, giving us a general picture of how we see things shaking out. The biggest unknowns are, of course, injuries. Nothing unravels the best laid plans of the offseason faster. But there are plenty of big questions as we get ready to kick off camp next week.
Who will start of the PUP list in camp, and in season? Who can’t pass the conditioning test? Or worse, who gets hurt in camp and leaves a hole for someone new to fill?
Generally the Pats Prop team seemed mostly on the same page as to the locks and the bubble guys. Here’s how things shook out, and where the areas of most intrigue are.
The locks (41):
- QB: Garoppolo, Brissett
- RB: Blount, Bolden, Develin
- WR: Edelman, Amendola, Hogan, Mitchell, Slater (ST)
- TE: Gronk, Bennett, Harbor
- OL: Thuney, Mason, Solder, Vollmer, Cannon, Waddle
- DE: Ninkovich, Sheard, Long, Grissom
- DT: Brown, Branch, Knighton, Valentine
- LB: Hightower, Collins, McClellin, Freeny, Grugier-Hill
- CB: Butler, Ryan, Coleman, Jones
- S: McCourty, Chung, Harmon, Richards, King
- Roster Exempt: Brady, Ebner
This leaves 12 roster spots that were up for debate. Let’s take a closer look at the areas where the projections differed most and what position battles to focus on.
RBs, Dion Lewis and the PUP
The only ones who left Dion Lewis off had him on the PUP list, meaning the Pats would sit him for the first six weeks of the regular season. That would appear to leave things a little thin. White, Gaffney, Brown and Foster all made some of the rosters. No one seems quite sure what to make of them at this point.
Niko: I gave White the nod because of his explosiveness as a receiver out of the backfield, but ask me again in a couple of weeks and I could go another way. I expect James to be pushed by the other backs I mentioned, who both may be more effective running between the tackles.
Rick: Going youth + proven commodities at RB: Foster over James White, and due to various roster exemptions, keeping both Gaffney and Brown active to start the year, Gaffney probably not making the gameday 46. This is where I see the largest likelihood of being incorrect, as 6 deep at RB is a lot.
Jamie: I think Pats have a lot to choose from and I was pretty afraid to make those choices: I forced myself to trim so Develin could make the team. I think upside of someone like Foster is exciting, but if it’s possible I think he begins the year on the practice squad. Probably dangerous, but maybe.
Interior Offensive Line
Everyone was in sync on the tackles with Waddle beating out Fleming, but there was a lot of differing opinions on Stork, Andrews, Jackson and Kline.
Jamie: I think Stork and Andrews are redundant and neither are great or bad, if one could move to other spots effectively that’d be great, but we haven’t seen that. I’d imagine Stork has a better trade value so maybe that’s the route if there’s a center hungry team. I do think the Pats probably will try to stash some of their young OL talent on the practice squad, but as of now, I think they roll the dice and keep 10 O lineman, sans Stork and try to find a guard who can swing to center in a pinch.
Niko: Offensive line is clearly an area of focus, and may be the most unpredictable and intense competition on the roster. I left David Andrews off because of Thuney’s ability to play anywhere up front, and Tre Jackson off because of his uneven health. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jackson was stashed on the “PUP” list at the beginning of the season as a way to buy time for last year’s 4th round pick.
Half of the projections had Darryl Roberts as the fifth cornerback, the other half had undrafted rookie Jonathan Jones. This matchup and Stork vs. Andrews are the most clear-cut head-to-head position battles in camp.
Niko: There should be a solid clash for the final cornerback spot(s) behind the top 3 locks (Butler, Ryan, Jones). I currently have Coleman and Jones edging out Biggers, Roberts, Bentley, and LeBlanc. Out of the cuts, Roberts has the best chance to stick.
Niko: Two tough cuts on the defensive line: Trey Flowers and Markus Kuhn. Grissom edges out Flowers because of (you guessed it) special teams contributions, and there’s simply no room for Kuhn with Branch, Brown, “Pot Roast”, and Valentine presumably being locks. My thinking is that McClellin could and will be used on the defensive line, and a few of the safeties are chiefly special teams studs.
Rick: I can see both Grissom and Nink playing standing up, which increases linebacker depth.
Jamie: I projected that the Pats keep all of their DE on the 90 man because that’s just how they roll, they like the versatility on the edge and they have plenty to choose from. There’s a possibility they move on from one and keep an extra man in LB core.
Jamie: Devin Lucien on the roster: he could probably be snuck onto the practice squad and have Nate Washington or Keyshawn Martin on the roster, but, did you ever actually watch his college highlights? He runs the exact route tree that Troy Brown/Deion Branch/Tim Dwight/Wes Welker/Edelman/Amendola have made their bones with in New England and absolutely crushes it. HELLO. Fits like a glove. Probably a gameday inactive, but if not, spells either one to keep them fresh down the stretch. Nate Washington reeks of “veteran callback in week 11 roster emergency” if anything to me, though.
Adam: I really wanted to keep Tyler Gaffney but I just could not bring myself to do it. Excited about the return of James Develin. I think he’ll be a key to keeping Garoppolo in good shape for the first quarter of the season.