In less than three weeks, the Patriots are scheduled to take the field against the Miami Dolphins. The regular season approaching means the race to make the final roster has reached the home stretch. Bubble players are feeling the pressure to perform, and roster longshots are working to standout in practice. Because there are no preseason games this year, the next week of practice will be critical to a player’s chance to make the final roster. The scheduled cut day is 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 5.
With the NFL season right around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to update our Patriots 53-man roster projection. (Note: Roster Projection 1.0 can be found here. Roster Projection 2.0 can be found here.)
Making the Team: Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham. Brian Hoyer
Cut: Brian Lewerke
Analysis: With Cam Newton distancing himself as the clear front runner for the starting job, the next question becomes how many quarterbacks the Patriots keep on the roster. Last projection, we opted to keep only two quarterbacks, but with Jarrett Stidham struggling with an injury, it’s smart to keep Brian Hoyer around as insurance for the position.
Running Back (Including Fullback) (5)
Making the Team: James White, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, Jakob Johnson, Sony Michel
Cut: J.J. Taylor
PUP: Lamar Miller
Analysis: Most expected Sony Michel to start the season on PUP. His surprise return to practice complicates the running back outlook. If Lamar Miller also returns from PUP, the position becomes even more complicated. As of now, we have J.J. Taylor getting cut, with Miller staying on PUP. Taylor’s chances to sneak onto the roster took a hit with the return of Michel. Look for Taylor to be a prime practice squad candidate.
Wide Receiver (6)
Making the Team: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu, Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski, Matthew Slater
Cut: Jakobi Meyers, Jeff Thomas, Devin Ross, Isaiah Zuber, Will Hastings
Analysis: The wide receiver group remains the toughest group to predict. Jeff Thomas has a ton of natural talent, but because he hasn’t practiced much thus far due to injury, it’s hard to put him on the final roster. To make the roster he needs to really stand out in the next week of practice. If the Patriots are afraid of other teams claiming Thomas, we could see him catch the Foxborough Flu, allowing him a redshirt year.
The final roster spot came down to Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, and Devin Ross. We went with Olszewski. Gunner has had a very strong training camp and looks all around improved as a player. Meanwhile, Meyers has had a quiet training camp. Meyers needs to finish off training camp with a bang to increase his roster odds. As for Ross, if he can string together another good week of practice, his roster chances expand greatly. The Patriots tend to keep six wideouts (including Slater), but if they can free up an additional spot, keeping a seventh wideout might not be a bad idea.
Tight End (3)
Making the Team: Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Ryan Izzo
Cut: Rashod Berry, Jake Burt, Paul Quessenberry, Paul Butler
Analysis: How likely is it that the Patriots only keep two rookie tight ends? Not likely. Ryan Izzo will likely be kept around as the third tight end. Even with Izzo, the rookie tight ends, especially Devin Asiasi, will have a chance to contribute right away.
Offensive Line (9)
Making the Team: David Andrews, Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason, Isaiah Wynn, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt, Korey Cunningham, Jermaine Eluemunor, Michael Onwenu
Cut: Tyler Gauthier, Ben Braden, Justin Herron
Analysis: Going into training camp, the biggest question mark was the right tackle spot left vacated by Marcus Cannon when he opted out. As of now, it looks like Jermaine Eluemunor has the inside track to fill the starting spot at right tackle.
Keeping Michael Onwenu over Justin Herron was a tough choice. You could easily swap Herron for Onwenu, but keeping Onwenu around as guard depth with Eluemunor shifting out to tackle might come in handy. Although, if Yodny Cajuste continues to struggle with health or his play, that opens up a need for tackle depth, thus leading to a greater chance of Herron earning the spot. If Onwenu earns the spot, we expect Herron to be added to the practice squad and vice versa.
Defensive Line (5)
Making the Team: Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart, Beau Allen, Deatrich Wise Jr.
Cut: Nick Thurman, Bill Murray, Xavier Williams, Michael Barnett
Analysis: Training camp has done little to ease our concerns about the lack of depth on the defensive line. Beau Allen will need to get healthy soon, as he was signed as a replacement for Danny Shelton. If Allen continues to miss time, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him cut/placed on injured reserve. Luckily for New England, Byron Cowart may be able to play the run-stuffing defensive linemen role.
Making the Team: John Simon, Anfernee Jennings, Chase Winovich, Shilique Calhoun
Cut: Tashawn Bower, Derek Rivers
Analysis: This is the first time Shilique Calhoun has made the roster in our projections. The edge spot needs some veteran depth to pair with fellow veteran John Simon, rookie Anfernee Jennings, and second-year player Chase Winovich. Brandon Copeland and Josh Uche, both hybrid linebackers, will also help out on the edge.
Making the Team: Cassh Maluia, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Brandon Copeland, Josh Uche
Cut: Terez Hall, De’Jon “Scoota” Harris
PUP: Brandon King
Analysis: Cassh Maluia just edges out Terez Hall and De’Jon “Scoota” Harris in our latest projection. Even if Maluia doesn’t play a ton of defensive snaps in year one, he projects as a special teams contributor right away.
Making the Team: Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams, Justin Bethel
Cut: D’Angelo Ross, Myles Bryant, Michael Jackson
Analysis: There’s no doubt the corner group is the strength of this team. D’Angelo Ross, Myles Bryant, and Michael Jackson aren’t bad corners, in fact, they’ve had solid camps. However, this group is too loaded for them to crack the final roster.
Making the Team: Terrence Brooks, Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Cody Davis
Analysis: Keeping five safeties may seem like a lot, but the safeties not only need to fill the Patrick Chung-void but also provide depth at linebacker. Adrian Phillips, Terrence Brooks, and Kyle Dugger are all capable of playing a hybrid linebacker role. The versatility of this group is a huge strength.
Special Teams (3)
Making the Team: P Jake Bailey, LS Joe Cardona, K Nick Folk
Cut: K Justin Rohrwasser
Analysis: A kicker competition has broken out in New England! Nick Folk was just signed, but he’s already outkicking Justin Rohrwasser. If Folk were to win the kicker competition, we predict Rohrwasser would be placed on injured reserve rather than being outright released. Rohwasser has been dealing with an injury throughout training camp, which may explain some of the struggles.
Toughest Cuts: Jakobi Meyers, J.J. Taylor, Justin Herron, Jeff Thomas
Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comment section below!