New England Patriots: Early Projections for 53-Man Roster
The 2012 NFL draft has come and gone, and now it almost seems like we're sitting in a standstill until training camp actually starts later this summer.
When training camp does come around, we'll be hearing about all 32 teams slimming down to a 53-man roster.
No surprise here.
The New England Patriots will carry three quarterbacks throughout 2012 as all three obviously possess their own value. Tom Brady is the obvious starter as he's one of the elite players in the league, Brian Hoyer is a very good backup who could be used as trade bait moving forward, and Ryan Mallett is a young talent who is a developmental project for the team.
We might not have seen a ton of Shane Vereen this past season as he was dealing with a hamstring injury, but I believe he'll play a pretty significant role in New England's offense heading into 2012.
As for Joseph Addai, I really like this addition, and I see him almost as what BenJarvus Green-Ellis was for the past couple of seasons: a reliable runner who picks up blitzes very well but can do something that Green-Ellis didn't do so well, catch passes out of the backfield.
Obviously Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are going to be on the roster, but Daniel Fells might raise a few eyebrows.
I reason why I have Fells making this roster is that he'll almost replace what Nate Solder was a year ago—an extra, blocking tight end. With Matt Light retiring and Solder stepping in as the left tackle, that opens the door for Fells.
Notice that there are two players that I have getting cut that may be a bit surprising: Chad Ochocinco and Anthony Gonzalez.
For Ochocinco, I think he really has no place on this roster as he can't play special teams, and he doesn't understand the offensive system. As for Gonzalez, he might be healthy and ready to produce, but there simply isn't a spot available for him at this point of time.
It's certainly relieving to know that Dan Koppen will be returning to the Patriots as he was one of the elite centers in the NFL when he was healthy prior to 2011.
Nothing really interesting here besides a little bit more depth with the addition of Robert Gallery—considering that Logan Mankins might be delayed a little bit heading into training camp because of his injured ACL.
Nate Solder will start at left tackle, replacing the retired Matt Light, and Sebastian Vollmer will start at right tackle with Marcus Cannon being the extra body to sub in and out.
No Andre Carter, no Mark Anderson and no Trevor Scott. Welcome aboard, Chandler Jones, Jonathan Fanene and Jake Bequette.
Out of the players listed, I really have some high expectations for Jones and Bequette, the two rookies.
Nothing different here from 2011 heading into 2012. This was definitely one of the team's strengths on the defensive side of the ball from this past season.
I am really looking forward to this group heading into 2012.
The one player who might surprise you for being on this roster is Tracy White, as he's not the greatest linebacker in the world, but he's very effective on special teams.
As for Dont'a Hightower, I see him playing a lot of inside linebacker as well as rotating in and out at outside linebacker, depending on the defensive package that New England is in.
Bobby Carpenter in and Jermaine Cunningham out.
Cunningham simply took too many steps backward in 2011, and I don't see him having a chance at all for making this roster in 2012.
I really like this group heading into 2012. It's certainly filled with talent and potential.
The one player that I'd look out for this season is Ras-I Dowling, as he spent all of this past season injured but has a ton of upside and could emerge as the team's No. 2 cornerback heading into this second season in the league.
Steve Gregory will fit in nicely as New England's starting strong safety, an area that was a liability this past season. As for Sergio Brown, he's a solid special teams player who is a pretty nice backup behind Gregory.
I see 2012 being a huge year for Patrick Chung. He needs to take that step forward into being one of the better safeties in the NFL—that is, if he can stay healthy.
As for the rookie Tavon Wilson, he's pretty unknown to me as not too many had him even being drafted this year, but there's something there that Bill Belichick must like, which is why he'll make this roster.
There's nothing interesting here. Same group as last year's and should continue to do a fine job in 2012.