Early 53-man roster projection

The rookie mini camp has already begun, so from now on, the players are fighting for roster spots and depth positions. I am sure there will be some extra additions during the weeks and months, but the core is already there. May 14-16 is the rookie mini camp period. May 24-25 and 27 are the first OTA days, which will continue during the first half of June (1-2, 4, 7-8, 10-11, 14-16). The final cut will be somewhere beginning of September (Sept. 5 was last year), until this deadline teams must reach the 53 player roster size.

As I look on the current roster structure, we have some positions which are filled with talents, but other positions bring up questions (at least mid-term). I will go through all the positons and will give you my thoughts. There will be spots with questionmarks, but I will explain everything for you.

Quaterback (2) – Mac Jones, Cam Newton/Jarrett Stidham: Let’s start with a surprise prediction. After the team was taking Jones at #15 this year, he is the only QB with 100% on the roster for me. I see only one way he won’t be there, which is a serious injury. I really hope it won’t happen, but hey, this is football and you never know what will happen. What about the other two QBs? My first thought would be „Cam will be there for sure“, but after I started to think about it, I needed to adjust my opinion. Cam is the starter now, until someone will be better than him. That is what BB told to reporters few weeks ago. What if Jones shows such a potential, that he becomes the starter? Big if, I know and risky enough, but you can’t say this is impossible. I guess BB has big respect for Cam and in this situation he would let him go to a team, where he wants to go. To this scenario there is another must have criteria. Stidham must show enough potential to be the only backup. We already saw, he is working hard on his technique, he made „camps“ with another players, so he is fighting. I don’t know if those actions would be enough for him to stay with the team, but again, we can’t say it is impossible. If he didn’t develop enough, he will be traded or cut and the Cam/Mac duo will stay for the season.

Cut/trade: Most likely Stidham, but maybe Cam.

Offense Line (9) – Isaiah Wynn, Michael Onwenu, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Trent Brown, Justin Herron, Ted Karras, ??, ??: I let two spots open, because I don’t know who will win or if that players are already on the roster. The five starters are roster locks for me, such as Herron (as swing tackle) and Karras (as iOL backup). Last year there were 9 (healthy) OL players on the roster during the season, 6 iOL and 3 OT. The 3 OT players are already there if we want to go the way as it was last year, so the two open spots are for interior players. If William Sherman (our 6th round draft pick this year) could have a great offseason, he could make the roster, because he offers OT/OG versatility. Unfortunately Cajuste couldn’t stay healthy to show his value, but he could be an interesting player to watch. The depth of the interior positions is very questionable, this could be the reason why the Pats had former Bengals OG, Alex Redmond on try out few days ago. He went undrafted in 2016, but started 24 games for the Bengals since then.

Cut/trade: Marcus Martin, Najee Toran and one or two from the Cajuste/Cunningham/Sherman trio.

Tight End (3) – Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Devin Asiasi: After last year, when only 2 TE made the 53 roster, this year, the team will keep three players on this position. Smith and Henry are not just roster locks, but ROSTER LOCKS and I think Asiasi showed enough last year, to be able to stay on the roster. Especially if the Pats will go back more to their 12 personnel.

Cut/trade: Matt Lacosse

Full Back (1) – Jacob Johnson: The team has more than enough players for this position and here will be a huge competition. Vitale was the front runner before his opt-out last year, Keene is a FB/TE option, but Johnson is a pure full back with some catching skill, who showed his potential last year. Cutting Keene is very hard, after he was drafted in the third round last year, but he could get a spot in the PS. Ok, I am a bit biased towards Johnson, because he comes from Germany and I live in Germany, but his production was good as well.

Cut/trade: Danny Vitale, Dalton Keene

Running Back (4) – Damien Harris, James White, J.J. Taylor, Rhamondre Stevenson: I think this a very good group. Unfortunately I had to cut Bolden, who could be an important ST player, but needed the spot for other positions. Harris and Stevenson could be the power backs, while White and Taylor the 3rd down and pass catching specialists. I‘ve mentioned Michel as a trade candidate in my last article and I will stay with it. If he is ready to take a lower salary contract, I could see Todd Gurley will join to this group (especially if Johnson wouldn’t count against the roster), which would make the whole offense more dangerous.

Cut/trade: Brandon Bolden, Sony Michel

Wide Receiver (5) – Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Matthew Slater: I don’t think keeping more WR would be really necessary. Many fans would love to have one more big signing, for example trade for Julio Jones, but is it a need? Beside the two new tight ends, the team signed a deap threat (Agholor) and a shifty, mid-level target (Boure). I can’t imagine they would let Meyers go, who was the best WR last year and the same goes with Olszewski, who had a Pro Bowl year as returner. This spot is very important, since Edelman is no more there, so the young WR could be his successor, plus BB values the ST production. I see Harry will be traded somewhere. There is just no place for him. Tre Nixon will be a PS body at first and we will see if he can work his way up to the roster. Slater will be a ST player mostly, so this group will have only 4 real receivers, but will be enough. 4 WR + 3 TE + 2 RB are enough targets for the QB in the passing game.

Cut/trade: N’Keal Harry, Devin Smith, Kristian Wilkerson, Isaiah Zuber, Tre Nixon

Defense Line (5) – Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore, David Godchaux, Henry Anderson, Deatrich Wise: This unit is another one, which will look different compared to last year. The run defense production was dead last (DVOA) in 2020, so big upgrade was needed. I think, the team made everything to fix the problem. One thing I am missing here, is a very big bodied NT. Godchaux is my primary nose candidate, but there are other players who could play there as well. I see here a possibility to sign someone with bigger body, but this group should be ready to be better against the run.

Cut/trade: Akeem Spence, Byron Cowart, Nick Thurman, Bill Murray, Carl Davis, Montravius Adams

Edge (5) – Matt Judon, Ronnie Perkins, Kyle van Noy, Anfernee Jennings, ??: This was a hard process, to find the final group. The first three names are locks. After one bad year (which was his rookie year) I don’t think BB would cut Jennings, he will rather get one more year to prove himself. He wasn’t the player we expected, but I think he will stay. I didn’t want to say good bye to Winovich. He might be only a pass rusher, but he belongs to the best 6 players on this position (within the team). Unfortunately for him, we have Hightower and Uche in the linebacker group, who could play as pass rushers too and Perkins is better against the run than him. As I wrote last time, I think Wino has the highest trade value this year, so he will be on the trade block. The last spot is open. I don’t think someone will come here from outside, so it will be a fight between Bower and Berry. For me, Bower is the better choice, but wasn’t sure enough to put him on the final list.

Cut/trade: Chase Winovich, one from the Tashawn Bower/Rashod Berry duo.

Linebacker (4) – Dont’a Hightower, Josh Uche, Harvey Langi, Terez Hall: Hightower is back and his starter position is out of question. Uche made a good impression last year and he could be a middle option on the second level, which would make his value even higher. Langi’s home coming means the end for Brandon King, he will take over the ST role from him as well. Maybe Terez Hall is a surprise here, but I liked him last year and with a good offseason, I see him making the final 53. He had flashes last year (8th most tackle in the team), needs to keep up the good work. Unfortunately Bentley didn’t make the cut in this scenario. I like him, he was a captain last year, but he is in the final year of his contract and he might have some trade value. One of the hardest cut for me. Cameron McGrone will go to IR and will come back in 2022.

Cut/trade: Ja’whaun Bentley, Raekwoon McMillan

Cornerback (5) – Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Myles Bryant, ??: After the team didn’t draft a single cornerback, I think both Gilmore and Jones will stay with the team, at least in 2021. Jones is my primary 3rd CB and Bryant showed enough to stick with the team. I am expecting on another player here, if he would be one from the guys on the roster or for example Dre Kirkpatrick who was on try out this week, I don’t know, but only 4 CB on the roster would be risky. Williams couldn’t show enough to stay unfortunately, the team tried him in nickel/safety position as well. Maybe he will be the fifth player with a good offseason.

Cut/trade: Joejuan Williams, Mike Jackson Sr, Dee Virgin, D’Angelo Ross

Safety (7) – Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, Jalen Mills, Joshuah Bledsoe, Justin Bethel, Cody Davis: This is actually 5 safeties and two mostly ST players, but they are safeties as well, so I have to count them here. McCourty and Dugger are my starters with Phillips the nr 3. Mills is another versatile body in this group, who can play nickel or even corner. Bledsoe made the roster, because I wanted to have 5 safeties, in case of injury, plus Bledsoe’s development could be very important for the future. If the Pats wants to play big nickel again, then having 5 safeties is a safer way.

Cut/trade: No one

Special Team (3) – Nick Folk, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona: I think, this group is easy. No need for further explanation.

Summary: A lot can happen during the next months, but these are my projections. Some of the depth guys could see different path, but this 53-man roster would be good for the season. Big turn around in the front 7, but continuity in the defensive backfield. On the offense, the Oline would be the unit with little change and the receiving groups would look very different.

At the end, the offense had 24 players, the defense 26 and 3 for the special team unit.

Thank you for your time to read my article. Please leave your comment, what do you think about it and what would you do different. If you liked my post please share it.

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