The conclusion of the 2019 NFL Draft means that, for the most part, rosters around the NFL have taken shape. Selections made throughout the seven rounds as well as additions of undrafted free agents have filled most available spots on teams 90 man rosters. Now comes the period of the NFL season where players earn their way onto a 53 man roster. Who can be expected to make this roster for the Patriots?
Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham
The quarterback position is pretty cut and dry. Brady will be entering this season at age 42 which is why the Patriots invested in a fourth round quarterback from Auburn in Stidham. Stidham provides a young quarterback to be groomed behind Brady for years to come.
Hoyer, however, could be on the trade block if Stidham shows enough throughout organized team activities and the preseason. A veteran quarterback from a successful organization such as New England could hold some value for a team with a young quarterback such as the Buffalo Bills or Arizona Cardinals.
Running Back (4)
Sony Michel, Damien Harris, James White, Rex Burkhead
The selection of Harris in the third round was surprising with other positions such as tight end or quarterback of more obvious need. Last season, however, New England found their depth. Wide Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson had to take meaningful snaps at the position last season so the addition of another capable runner such as Harris is an insurance policy should the Patriots suffer injuries like they did last season.
Wide Receiver (5)
Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Bruce Ellington, Jakobi Meyers, Demaryius Thomas (PUP), Josh Gordon (Suspended)
The wide receiver position entering the offseason was arguably the weakest that it had been in the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era. Losses of Chris Hogan, Cordarelle Patterson, and Josh Gordon left the Patriots with a receiving corps that even Brady might not have been able to overcome. Additions through the draft and free agency have plugged some of the holes, but there is a notable absence of a slot receiver behind an aging Edelman. This continued to remain an issue following the Draft. Meyers played in the slot at NC State and recorded the most receptions from the slot position (85) and third most yards (984). Meyers also boasted a top five drop rate and contested catch percentage for this years class.
Tight End (3)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Ryan Izzo, Matt Lacosse
Following the retirement of Rob Gronkowski and the departure in free agency of Dwayne Allen, the Patriots were left with only one tight end remaining on their roster from last season in Jacob Hollister. Hollister was recently traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a 2020 seventh round draft pick meaning that the Patriots tight end position will have a lot of unfamiliar faces this upcoming season. Izzo showed some promise in training camp last spring prior to getting injured, and the lack of a move by the organization to add some talent at the position in the draft could be a vote of confidence for the pieces already in place. It wouldn’t be too surprising if the Patriots added a veteran at the position. Adding an experienced veteran through a trade from a team with an abundance of talent at the position isn’t out of the question. The Minnesota Vikings added Irv Smith Jr. in the draft which could free up Kyle Rudolph. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have both O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate which means one could be available. If all else fails, Benjamin Watson reportedly is open to coming out of retirement and has history playing with Brady.
Offensive Line (9)
Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Ted Karras, Hjalte Froholdt, Cole Croston
With draft picks in the third and fourth rounds, the Patriots are investing in high upside offensive lineman who can be coached up by Dante Scarnecchia. Thuney is an unrestricted free agent after this season and will most likely be looking to cash in in free agency.
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If New England follows the path it’s taken with other high dollar offensive lineman in previous seasons such as Nate Solder and Trent Brown, Thuney could find himself on another roster in 2020. These nine offensive lineman include a starting five, and two backups for both the tackle, and interior lineman positions leaving everything in balance.
Develin’s role may be due for an increase with the Patriots’ dedication to the power running game, along with the loss of a physical end of the line blocker in Gronkowski. Jakob Johnson will likely find a spot on the practice squad through the NFL’s new program dedicated to the development of international players which allows for one player from overseas to partake in the program without counting against a teams final roster count.
Defensive Tackle (4)
Lawrence Guy, Mike Pennell, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart
Departures of Danny Shelton and Malcom Brown left the Patriots thin at this position. Pennell figures to play an important role on the interior of that defensive line starting alongside Guy, with Butler serving as a sub in pass rushing situations. The fourth spot at the position is up for grabs, but the Patriots investment in Cowart in the fifth round, coupled with his talent as what many experts regarded as the number one player coming out of high school earns him a shot on the Patriots roster moving forward.
Defensive End (4)
Michael Bennett, Chase Winovich, John Simon, Deatrich Wise
Winovich has the potential to be a potential day one starter opposite of Bennett, which the Patriots could use. Wise has failed to develop into the starter many in the organization had hoped, so it is important that they find some stability on the opposite edge.
Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts
The development of Van Noy in the Patriots system as well as what Bentley flashed in limited action before getting injured last season allow for New England to carry fewer players at this position than they perhaps might have in previous seasons. All four players have experience playing a starting roll on this defense, and the addition of Jerod Mayo to the coaching staff could lend itself to further development at this position.
Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon
Carrying only three safeties on the roster to start the season is a decision that leaves the Patriots shallow at the position. The flexibility of other corners to play a sort of hybrid role however allows for New England to free up roster spots at other positions that may be of a greater need.
Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson
New England is absolutely loaded at the cornerback position. Keion Crossen is an unfortunate casualty at the position, but showed enough in limited action that he may have some value on the trade market to a team in need of help in their secondary. Dawson, McCourty, and Williams all have some potential to take some snaps at the safety position if necessary due to the lack of depth at that position.
Special Teams (7)
Stephen Gostkowski, Joe Cardona, Brandon Bolden, Nate Ebner, Matthew Slater, Brandon King, Jake Bailey
Jake Bailey is the surprise from this group. A fifth round draft pick out of Stanford, Bailey was brought in to directly compete with Ryan Allen for the starting position. The addition of Corey Bojorquez as an undrafted free agent last season, coupled with the drafting of Bailey this year paints a very clear picture that New England is looking to potentially replace Allen. By moving from Allen to Bailey, the Patriots gain stability at the position as Allen is set to hit unrestricted free agency again next off season after signing a one year deal with New England this year.
While the roster for the Patriots is bound to change and grow prior to the week one kickoff against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 8th, this is the roster that makes the most sense for the team moving forward. Organized team activities, offseason workouts, and the preseason will bring more clarity to the roster.
Knowing Bill Belichick and the New England front office though, there’s bound to be more than one surprise in the trimming down to a 53 man roster.
–Adam Myers is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @AdamTMyers