As usual, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots brain trust have assembled one of the NFL’s deepest and most talent-rich rosters, led by all-world quarterback Tom Brady. Like every other team the Patriots experienced some roster turnover this offseason—most notably parting ways with Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd—but the real personnel changes won’t fully take shape until July and August as they whittle their roster down to 53 players.
Believe you me, whittle they will. With 90 players on the squad as of this writing, New England will undoubtedly bid farewell to a few more familiar faces before opening kickoff 2013.
When they leave fans will wish them well, but their chief interest will of course lie with the players who do in fact make the final roster. Patriots’ fans care about Patriots players; we just don’t know yet exactly who those players will be.
Aye, there’s the rub.
How do you rank a team’s roster without knowing which players will comprise it?
I could rank all 90 players, just to be safe, but I don’t think anyone has the inclination or enough free time at the office to read about New England’s backup punter. After all, if your boss catches you slacking off at work, shouldn’t it at least be on account of a player worth slacking off for?
Frankly, I don’t have the inclination to rank them either. I can only cram a precious few words into my vernacular and I’m loath to squander them on players who ultimately won’t matter.
So in the interest of avoiding hemming and hawing over Ben Bartholomew vs. Mike Zupancic, and hopefully preventing a few office write-ups, I’ve gone ahead and done the whittling. The actual result will inevitably differ here or there, but for the most part this represents an accurate estimation of the team’s opening day roster.
That is, unless Belichick finds another Rutgers grad or two to muck it all up.
Now that we have a neatly carved 53-man roster to work from, let’s get to the rankings! Players are featured from worst to best, based on how likely they are to make meaningful contributions to the team, which roles they fill and in some cases (Ryan Mallett for example) how much they can fetch in a trade. Enjoy.