On Saturday, September 5 at 4 p.m. the Patriots’ 80-man roster will shrink to only 53 players, thus forming the Patriots’ final roster. In this article, we’ll give you our final roster projection, as well as our ideal practice squad for the Patriots. You can read our three earlier roster projections here: Projection 1.0, Projection 2.0, Projection 3.0.
Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
Analysis: There’s no change at the quarterback spot from our last projection. With the ongoing pandemic and injuries to Jarrett Stidham in camp, the Patriots need the insurance of a third quarterback and Brian Hoyer gives them that. Meanwhile, Cam Newton will be the starter. We published a film breakdown on what a Patriots offense led by Newton could look like here.
Running Back (4)
James White, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel
Analysis: Lamar Miller is firmly on the roster bubble after coming off PUP earlier in the week. Ultimately, we ended up keeping an additional wide receiver over a fifth running back. The Patriots may keep Miller, but that means cutting from another postion. If Miller still has something left in the tank, he would be a valuable insurance policy. Unfortunately, J.J. Taylor is also a victim of the deep running back room, but the Patriots will try to keep him around via the practice squad. (NOTE: If Damien Harris misses extended time with an injury, the Patriots will keep Lamar Miller.)
Analysis: Expect Jakob Johnson to play an integral role in the run game. Even though Johnson is the only fullback listed on the roster, Dalton Keene will likely get some snaps here as well in a hybrid role.
Wide Receiver (7)
Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski, Jeff Thomas, Matthew Slater
Analysis: The wide receiver group remains the toughest to predict. Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and Matthew Slater (special teams) are roster locks and we have Gunner Olszewski as a near lock. Damiere Byrd will likely make it too, but he’s a tier below Gunner and should still be considered a bubble player. The rest is anyone’s guess. Following the release of Mohamed Sanu, the Patriots have a real lack of proven pass catches behind Edelman.
Jakobi Meyers is probably the biggest beneficiary of the release of Sanu. Meyers had a quiet training camp, but because he can fill the same role as Sanu, we have Meyers making the roster.
Normally, we’d only keep six wideouts, but this group needs all the help they can get, so we see the Patriots keeping a seventh wideout. It comes down to Devin Ross or Jeff Thomas, but we’ll go with Thomas. His pure talent and athleticism would be a welcomed addition to this group. Ross is a prime candidate for the practice squad if he falls short of a roster spot. It wouldn’t surprise us at all if the Patriots look towards the waiver wire and the trade market for another proven wideout.
Tight End (2)
Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene
Analysis: It’s certainly possible the Patriots keep Ryan Izzo as a third tight end, but we opted to use the roster spot elsewhere. Devin Asiasi and Keene had good camps, especially Asiasi, but they will have rookie struggles. This is another position the Patriots could look to add via trade or free agency.
Offensive Line (9)
David Andrews, Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason, Isaiah Wynn, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt, Korey Cunningham, Jermaine Eluemunor, Michael Onwenu
Analysis: Jermaine Eluemunor looks like the clear starter at right tackle. The depth behind Eluemunor and the rest of the Patriots’ starting offensive line is very young and inexperienced. One of those young linemen is rookie tackle, Justin Herron, who is left off this roster projection in favor of Korey Cunningham and Yodny Cajuste. Although Cunningham doesn’t have a ton of experience, he is the most experienced backup swing tackle on the Patriots. Cajuste had a tough training camp but he should stick around on the roster. Michael Onwenu and Hjalte Froholdt will backup Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney.
Defensive Line (5)
Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart, Deatrich Wise Jr., Beau Allen
Analysis: Beau Allen still hasn’t practiced as of yet, therefore we could see the Patriots placing him on the injured reserve. If that were to happen, the depth along the interior defensive line would take a tremendous hit. On-roster options to replace Allen consist of Xavier Williams and Bill Murray. Williams would be the more likely choice if they choose to replace him in-house. The Patriots could also explore the free-agent market following other cuts around the league, which is the route we would take.
John Simon, Anfernee Jennings, Chase Winovich, Derek Rivers
Analysis: The choice between Derek Rivers or Shilique Calhoun is a tough call. Rivers brings you much higher upside, but Calhoun gives you solid play with tons of special teams’ contributions. We almost went with Calhoun for his special teams, but ultimately we have the Patriots keeping the youth and upside.
Cassh Maluia, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Brandon Copeland, Josh Uche
PUP: Brandon King
Analysis: The linebacker spot is rather thin, but the versatility of the safeties to play hybrid linebacker roles will help. Ja’Whaun Bentley is the clear leader of this group. Rookies, Josh Uche and Cassh Maluia will both get their shot to play right away, with Maluia’s coming more as a special teamer.
Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams, Justin Bethel
Analysis: The corner postion is one we haven’t changed all offseason. This group is loaded. The odd man out in terms of playing time remains Joejuan Williams. Williams spent time practicing safety in training camp.
Terrence Brooks, Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Cody Davis
Analysis: The safety group has enough to replace Patrick Chung. Adrian Phillips, Terrence Brooks, and Kyle Dugger are all capable box safeties. Dugger could also shift to a deep safety role to help replace Duron Harmon.
Special Teams (3)
P Jake Bailey, LS Joe Cardona, K Nick Folk
Analysis: Nick Folk was clearly the best Patriots kicker in training camp. His great consistency, and Justin Rohrwasser’s inconsistency, has made it hard to project anything other than Folk as the starting kicker.
Ideal Practice Squad
Practice squad rules are a bit different this season, so we’ll lay out those changes here: 1.) Practice squads have expanded to 16 players. 2.) Up to six players can be added without a limit on accrued seasons, meaning six practice squad spots could go to veterans if the Patriots so choose. 3.) Four players can be protected by a team each week. This means another team cannot sign those specific four players during the week they are protected.
Keep in mind as cuts around the league roll in, some of the 16 practice squad spots will go to other players not currently on the Patriots’ roster. With that being said, here is our ideal practice squad based off of our roster projection.
1.) RB J.J. Taylor
2.) T/G Justin Herron
3.) WR Devin Ross
4.) K Justin Rohrwasser
5.) DT Xavier Williams (1 of 6 veteran slots on the practice squad)
6.) CB Michael Jackson
7.) LB Terez Hall
8.) CB D’Angelo Ross
9.) TE Ryan Izzo
10.) DT Bill Murray
11.) LB De’Jon “Scoota” Harris
12.) EDGE Shilique Calhoun (2 of 6 veteran slots on the practice squad)
13.) CB/ S Myles Bryant
14.) WR Isaiah Zuber
15.) TE Jake Burt
16.) TE Rashod Berry
Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comment section below!