Power Ranking Every New England Patriots Player Prior to Training Camp
With the NBA and NHL seasons nearly finished, we are that much closer to a new chapter in the New England Patriots' book. The Patriots' minicamp and organized team activities are behind us with sights now set on training camp.
The Patriots have consistently been one of the best teams in the NFL since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick teamed up. There have been loads of talent on their roster over recent years, and the same is true for 2013.
Expectations are high once again for the Pats in 2013, as they carry some heavy weapons on both sides of the ball. The Patriots have a high-scoring offense and an improving defense heading into the new season.
It is time to take a look at the power rankings of every 2013 Patriots player under contract.
88. Mike Zupancic, LS
Danny Aiken will most likely keep Zupancic from taking over long snapping.
87. Ryan Allen, P
Though Zoltan Mesko will probably keep his job, Allen has a pretty good leg.
86. Danny Aiken, LS
Aiken has played in every game for the Patriots in the past two seasons and will very likely be the long snapper this season.
85. Joe Vellano, DT
There might be too much talent ahead of Vellano on the defensive line.
84. R.J. Mattes, OL
Though intriguing at 6'6", there is a very small chance that Mattes will land a spot on the roster.
83. Ben Bartholomew, FB
Bartholomew finds himself behind far too many talented running backs with little need for a fullback.
82. Elvis Fisher, OT
It will be tough for Fisher to compete with Marcus Cannon and Will Svitek for an open spot at tackle.
81. Kanorris Davis, CB
Davis, a rookie out of Troy University, will most likely be left off the roster.
80. George Winn, RB
The Pats signed Winn on Monday, giving the team 88 players on the roster for now.
79. Josh Kline, OL
With an established starting offensive line and solid veteran backups, Kline may not be necessary.
78. Chris McDonald, OL
The 6'5" McDonald has a slim chance of making the roster.
77. A.J. Edds, LB
Edds played in two games for the Patriots back in 2011 but has had knee troubles.
76. Brandon Jones, CB
The Pats likely don't have room for a second Scarlet Knight cornerback in Jones.
75. Stephon Morris, CB
With Ryan and probably Duron Harmon making the team, other rookie defensive backs (like Morris) don't stand much of a chance.
74. Cory Grissom, DL
Grissom, a former USF Bull, will have a tough time working his way onto the roster.
73. Brandon Ford, TE
Ford is less likely to make the cut than the 6'7" Zach Sudfeld.
72. Markus Zusevics, OL
Zusevics did not see any action while with the Patriots last season.
71. Matt Stankiewitch, C
Barring injury, it is unlikely that the Pats will keep the former Penn State Nittany Lion.
70. Mark Harrison, WR
Though the Patriots are fond of Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Harrison likely won't make the final cut.
69. Jason Vega, DL
It will be tough for Vega to make the roster over so many other talented defensive linemen.
68. Jeff Tarpinian, LB
Tarpinian was featured on the Pats' practice squad last season and probably will be again this time.
67. Kenbrell Thompkins, WR
Former Cincinnati Bearcat, Thompkins is a long shot to make the roster.
66. James Develin, FB
With so many talented running backs, it is unlikely that the Pats will hang on to a fullback.
65. Kevin Haslam, OT
Last season, Haslam made three starts for the San Diego Chargers at tackle.
64. Niko Koutouvides, LB
Koutouvides has been in the league for a while and played in 14 games for the Pats in 2012.
63. Mike Rivera, LB
Rivera played in 10 games for the Pats last season, including one start at linebacker.
62. Kamar Aiken, WR
There is a big competition for the final wide receiver spots, and it's going to be tough for Aiken.
61. Nate Ebner, DB
Ebner saw action in 15 games last season, but he may not make the cut this season with Duron Harmon on board.
60. Marcus Forston, DL
Forston only saw action once last season and has a very slight chance to see time this season.
59. Michael Buchanan, DE
There is potential for Buchanan to become a presence as a pass-rusher, but there are so many defensive linemen for the Pats to choose from.
58. Will Svitek, OT
Svitek will likely back up Nate Solder at left tackle.
57. Zach Sudfeld, TE
Standing at 6'7", Sudfeld has tremendous size at tight end. He has a chance to make the squad and could be useful if Rob Gronkowski misses time.
56. Daniel Fells, TE
Fells, like Sudfeld, will be right on the cut line for making the squad. He did play in 13 games for the Pats last season and has plenty of NFL experience.
55. Marcus Benard, DL
Benard didn't play in the NFL last season, but he did record 7.5 sacks in 2010.
54. Justin Francis, DE
The Pats have a lot of defensive ends on the roster currently and not all of them will make the cut. Francis, however, has a pretty decent shot.
53. Duron Harmon, S
Harmon, the biggest surprise pick by the Pats, will probably play a big role on special teams. He may get some snaps at safety as well.
52. Jake Bequette, DE
Last season, Jake Bequette was barely used at all. Bequette could prove more valuable this season however.
51. Steve Beauharnais, LB
The Patriots are loaded at linebacker, so it's going to be a tough climb up the depth chart for Beauharnais. He will likely spend most of his time on special teams this season.
50. Michael Hoomanawanui, TE
Last season, Hoomanawanui saw a good amount of action, making six starts with Rob Gronkowski sidelined. He may see even more action in 2013.
49. Nick McDonald, OL
McDonald played in 12 games last season and suits as a backup at guard and center.
48. Zoltan Mesko, P
It was an alright season in 2012 for Mesko, but now he must beat out rookie Ryan Allen. It is very likely he will remain the starter.
47. Dane Fletcher, LB
Fletcher has been a decent linebacker for the Pats but missed the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL. He is a reliable backup option for the Patriots.
46. Jermaine Cunningham, DE/OLB
Fans had high hopes for Cunningham coming out of Florida, but he just never turned out the way the Pats expected. A roster spot is definitely far from a guarantee for him, especially with the addition of Jamie Collins.
45. Marquice Cole, CB
Rookie Logan Ryan and Ras-I Dowling (if he stays healthy) help to give the Pats much-needed depth at cornerback. As a result, Cole will see less playing time as the No. 5 or 6 option.
44. Michael Jenkins, WR
Jenkins is nice to have on the roster because he can help guide Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. There are only so many wide receiver spots open though, so somebody is going to be left in the rain.
43. LeGarrette Blount, RB
In his first season in the league Blount was impressive, topping 1,000 rushing yards. However, his carries dropped tremendously last season.
42. Lavelle Hawkins, WR
Hawkins only had five catches last season with the Tennessee Titans, but the year before he had 47. He will be battling with Michael Jenkins for a roster spot.
41. Stephen Gostkowski, K
Though Gostkowski had some pretty bad missed field goals last season, he did some things well. He matched his career high by hitting a 53-yard attempt.
40. Armond Armstead, DL
After spending last season in the CFL, Armstead has a shot to be a contributor in the NFL with the Pats. Armstead will likely be the first backup to Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly at defensive tackle.
39. Logan Ryan, CB
Ryan may turn into a starting cornerback some day, but for now he'll fight to be No. 4 or 5 on the depth chart. He should see a fair amount of action in coverage as a rookie.
38. Jake Ballard, TE
With Rob Gronkowski's health uncertain at the moment, Ballard is going to have to step up for the Pats. He will likely have more opportunities to make some plays this season at tight end.
37. Ras-I Dowling, CB
It's been tough for Dowling in his first two seasons as a pro. He can't seem to stay healthy, but maybe all of that comes to an end this season. The Pats could surely use his skills in coverage.
36. Tim Tebow, QB
Many people thought that New England would be an ideal fit for Tebow, and there is some truth to that. He will probably make the roster, but won't see too much action sitting behind Tom Brady. He is a great guy to have in the clubhouse, he can run the ball and maybe his presence will motivate Ryan Mallett.
35. Donald Jones, WR
Jones could ultimately end up beginning the season as a starter. He has the skills to become a factor in the passing game, but he will have to fight with Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce for playing time.
34. Josh Boyce, WR
The second wide receiver taken by the Pats in the draft, Boyce has speed, strength and intelligence. Unfortunately he has not been able to showcase his skills, being sidelined with a foot injury.
33. Marcus Cannon, OL
Cannon played in every game for the Pats last season. He will begin as the top backup lineman, as he can play both guard and tackle.
32. Brandon Bolden, RB
Bolden had a surprisingly good rookie season. However, at the moment, injuries seem to be a small concern. Still, the Pats are fairly deep at running back this season.
31. Ryan Mallett, QB
There was a lot of trade talk surrounding Mallett this offseason. Maybe he's Brady's replacement, maybe not, but for now he has to compete with Tim Tebow as backup.
30. Leon Washington, RB/KR
Leon Washington might not be an effective running back anymore, but that is not why the Patriots signed him. They signed him to do what he does best, which is returning kicks.
Washington has eight career kickoff return touchdowns and can return punts as well. Edelman figures to remain the punt returner, but Washington will do his damage on kickoffs. He may also get some touches on offense as well.
29. Jamie Collins, OLB
The Patriots' first selection in this year's draft joins some extremely talented players in the linebacker corps. The pick came as a surprise to many, but the man has skills in coverage and rushing the edge.
Down the road, Collins could turn out to be a starter on this team. Collins can play both defensive end and outside linebacker, a trait that the Patriots always adore.
28. Matthew Slater, WR
Matthew Slater is as good as they come on special teams. Slater might not be all that much of a wide receiver, but he is one of the best special teams players in the league.
The Patriots' special teams captain made the Pro Bowl in 2012. Slater is valuable to this team, and he understands his role well.
27. Steve Gregory, S
Who could forget Steve Gregory's biggest highlight from last season? Picking up the "butt fumble" by Mark Sanchez and running it back for the score will always be a classic memory.
Gregory did a fairly good job in his first season in New England. He recorded a career-high three interceptions in 2012.
26. Tommy Kelly, DT
Putting Tommy Kelly next to Vince Wilfork along the defensive line will be great for the Patriots. With roughly 650 pounds between the two players, it is going to be awfully hard to run the ball up the middle against the Pats' rock-solid front seven.
Kelly has plenty of experience and may still get to the quarterback once in a while as well. He probably won't be much of a threat rushing the passer (although he did have 7.5 sacks in 2011) but will help to form a very strong run defense.
25. Aaron Dobson, WR
The most exciting of the Patriots' 2013 draftees is wide receiver Aaron Dobson. He never really had a reliable quarterback with the Marshall Thundering Herd, so catching passes from Tom Brady must be a dream come true for Dobson.
Dobson can be the next great deep threat for the Pats, but it is going to take some time for him to understand the offense. He has tremendous size and leaping ability and can make some very difficult catches.
24. Julian Edelman, WR/PR
Many were uncertain whether or not Julian Edelman would be back with the Pats in 2013, but the team decided to give the wide receiver another shot. Edelman was off to a fine start in 2012, but a foot injury ended his season early.
Unfortunately, Edelman reinjured his foot and has not been able to practice. Edelman is an important player due to his versatility. This former college quarterback plays offense, special teams and even defense when needed.
Edelman's best feature is his punt returning ability, where he is always a threat to bring one back to the house.
23. Dan Connolly, OL
Dan Connolly has been an important player for the Patriots over the past few seasons. He is valuable because he can play on both the right and left sides of the offensive line.
Connolly will start at right guard but can also effectively play the center position. He rounds out what is certainly one of the more talented and experienced offensive line units in the NFL today.
22. Ryan Wendell, C
This past season was a big one for Ryan Wendell, who has finally earned his place among the Patriots starting five linemen. Wendell has worked his way up the depth chart and started every game for the Pats in 2012.
Wendell will start at center for the Pats again this season. All five of the Patriots starting offensive linemen return for this season.
21. Tavon Wilson, DB
Tavon Wilson had a pretty solid rookie season with the Patriots. He recorded four interceptions and made four starts, appearing in every game for the Pats.
Wilson can only benefit from the addition of veteran Adrian Wilson, as he can learn a thing or two from the hard-hitting safety. Wilson will be given plenty of opportunities this season to show his worth and will become better as he fights to gain the starting spot.
20. Kyle Arrington, CB
It was a pretty disappointing 2012 season for Kyle Arrington. He did not record a single interception last season after making seven in the previous season.
He is not the greatest cover corner, but he is a solid tackler and can knock down a pass or two occasionally. The Patriots showed their faith in Arrington by re-signing him.
As long as Alfonzo Dennard or Ras-I Dowling can hold down the No. 2 spot, Arrington can serve as a solid slot cornerback.
19. Shane Vereen, RB
2013 could very well be the year that Shane Vereen has a breakthrough season.
Though Stevan Ridley has been getting all the attention at running back, we must not forget that Vereen was actually drafted one round before Ridley.
Danny Woodhead is no more, leaving the door wide open for Vereen to serve as the third-down running back. Even though his touches were limited, Vereen was effective running and catching the ball and showed solid improvement in 2012. The Patriots will wisely use Vereen much more this season.
18. Alfonzo Dennard, CB
Who would have thought that a Round 7 draft pick would make such a difference for the Patriots? Dennard was very solid playing cornerback for the Pats down the stretch and eventually earned a spot as a the team's No. 2 corner.
Dennard put himself and the organization in a tough situation this offseason after receiving a jail sentence for assaulting a police officer. Luckily for the Pats, Dennard will not miss any time this season due to the altercation.
17. Adrian Wilson, S
The Patriots have a great competition for the starting strong safety spot between Adrian Wilson and Tavon Wilson. After many All-Pro seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, Adrian Wilson was the Pats' top addition on defense.
He brings leadership and experience to a rather young secondary. Wilson is known for his hard-hitting mentality, something the Patriots have missed since the departure of Rodney Harrison.
16. Rob Ninkovich, DE/OLB
With the addition of Dont'a Hightower last year and Jamie Collins this year, Rob Ninkovich will be used primarily at defensive end rather than linebacker. Ninkovich has been an important part of this team as a pass-rusher.
He has been a great fit in New England and had his best season this past year. Ninkovich posted career highs in sacks (8), forced fumbles (5) and fumble recoveries (4) in 2012.
15. Nate Solder, OT
Nate Solder is living up to his first-round value since the Patriots selected him No. 17 overall in the 2011 draft. He has become a dependable blocker over his first two seasons in the NFL.
Solder will be an All-Pro talent for the Patriots for years to come. Standing at a stunning 6'8", this giant has rare size and strength. Solder is one of the many 2011 Patriots draftees who have had great success in the league so far.
14. Dont'a Hightower, LB
The Patriots loaded up their linebacker unit last year by adding Dont'a Hightower in the 2012 draft. The young linebacker showed signs of a promising career as a rookie.
This season, Hightower will become an even bigger force on the Pats' defense. He collected four sacks last season and could very well fare even more successful as a pass-rusher this season.
Hightower is learning behind two very strong linebackers in Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. The Patriots must be pleased to have Hightower, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Jamie Collins rushing the passer.
13. Brandon Spikes, ILB
Brandon Spikes is a vicious hitter for the Patriots. The third-year inside linebacker had himself a very solid campaign in 2012.
Spikes spent his time working on improving his coverage skills privately while the rest of the team attended OTAs. If he can improve in coverage, then Spikes will be taking a giant step forward.
That is basically the one thing holding Spikes back from being an elite linebacker. Should Spikes show enough improvement over this season, then perhaps the Patriots will be more likely to re-sign him in the offseason.
12. Chandler Jones, DE
Even though Chandler Jones had to fight through injury in 2012, he was rather impressive while healthy. He gives the Patriots exactly what they need in a pass-rusher.
Jones recorded all six of his sacks in the first eight games of the season before ankle injuries slowed him down, forcing him to miss some time.
This season will be a big one for Jones, who can very easily become one of the best defensive ends in the NFL. Jones will continue to help the Patriots' pass defense, consistently disrupting opposing quarterbacks.
11. Devin McCourty, DB
2012 was an interesting season for Devin McCourty. He was transformed from a cornerback to a safety, and the change definitely benefited McCourty.
After a stellar rookie campaign, where he recorded seven interceptions, McCourty had somewhat of a sophomore slump in 2011. He bounced back with a solid 2012 season, making five interceptions, forcing a career-high three fumbles and returning a kickoff for a touchdown.
McCourty settled in nicely at safety and will only get better as he gains more experience playing the position.
10. Sebastian Vollmer, OT
The Patriots were smart to re-sign offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer in the offseason. Vollmer is a vital part of the Pats' front five on offense.
Before injuries slowed him down in the back end of the season, Vollmer allowed just one sack in the first 10 games. He was one of the top free-agent tackles in the offseason, but is now locked in for another four seasons in New England.
9. Aqib Talib, CB
Aqib Talib is the key to the Patriots' success in the secondary. Though pass defense has not been the team's forte, it has been proven that Talib's presence has strengthened the Pats' weak spot.
Unfortunately, Talib was injured early on in the AFC Championship, which resulted in a defeat to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Without their top corner, the Pats' pass defense stood little chance.
This is a contract year for Talib, which could be motivation for a huge 2013 season for the cornerback.
8. Aaron Hernandez, TE
Much attention is given to Rob Gronkowski, but Aaron Hernandez deserves a lot of credit for his performance at tight end as well.
The Patriots use Hernandez in many different ways as a receiver, blocker and even as a running back. His versatility makes it so hard for opposing defenses to properly deal with both dynamic tight ends.
Now that Welker is gone, Hernandez could be seeing even more passes thrown his way this season. Hernandez might not be the best tight end on the team, but he is still better than most NFL teams' starting tight ends.
7. Danny Amendola, WR
The Patriots have a lot riding on newcomer Danny Amendola. He has been chosen to replace Wes Welker, one of the best slot receivers in the game.
Amendola has the tools to become a star in the Patriots' offensive system. He brings more youth and quickness than Welker to the table.
Brady will likely look Amendola's way this season far more than any other receiver. Expect many, if not all, of the wideout's career highs to be shattered in his first season as a Patriot.
6. Stevan Ridley, RB
What a season it was for Stevan Ridley in 2012. The former LSU Tiger broke out with a monster season running the ball for the Patriots.
Ridley rushed for an impressive 1,263 yards in his second season, good for No. 7 in the league. He also scored 12 touchdowns on the ground, which tied him for No. 3 in the NFL with Adrian Peterson in 2012.
Only 24 years young, Ridley still has many good years ahead of him. He is dependable near the goal line and runs hard every carry.
The only thing that may limit Ridley's carries in the future will be the emergence of Shane Vereen, who will see a bigger role this season.
5. Logan Mankins, G
Back in 2011 the Patriots made a very smart move to sign guard Logan Mankins to a contract extension, which will keep him in New England through 2016.
Mankins has been a big asset for the Patriots since he joined the league in 2005. He has played at an All-Pro level and has provided stability along the offensive line.
Mankins is one of the most valuable players on this team.
4. Vince Wilfork, DT
Entering his 10th season in the league, Vince Wilfork continues to be a dominant force for the Patriots at defensive tackle. There are few players of Wilfork's size who have played at such a consistently high level.
His past two seasons have arguably been the 325-pound defensive lineman's best yet.
He had career highs in pass deflections (6), forced fumbles (2) and fumble recoveries (4) in 2012. The previous season, Wilfork posted career highs in assisted tackles (23), sacks (3.5) and interceptions (2).
Wilfork remains to be the anchor of the Patriots' defense. He is a big reason why the Pats' defense is strong against the run.
3. Jerod Mayo, LB
The best player on the Patriots' defense is Jerod Mayo. He is one of the top linebackers in the NFL today and has been a consistent force year in and year out for the Pats.
Last season, Mayo finished No. 4 in the league in combined tackles with 147. He has amazingly recorded at least 95 tackles or more in each of his five seasons with New England.
Mayo leads one of the NFL's strongest linebacker units in 2013, which stands as the backbone of this defense. This linebacker racks up so many tackles on the regular and is a great playmaker.
2. Rob Gronkowski, TE
Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the league. With him healthy and on the field, the Patriots' offense is extremely difficult to stop.
At 6'6" 265 pounds, Gronk is quite the mismatch. Though he only played in 11 games in 2012, Gronk still managed to find the end zone 11 times, giving him a total of 39 touchdowns in three seasons in New England.
The problem now is, unfortunately, Gronkowski's health. According to his brother, Gordie, Gronk had successful surgery on his back Tuesday, coming shortly after having surgery four times on his left forearm.
It seems that Gronk will not be very active during this summer's training camp. Hopefully, the explosive tight end will be ready for opening day.
1. Tom Brady, QB
Having Tom Brady under center makes the Patriots a strong Super Bowl contender every season. He is, without question, one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
Brady has three rings to this point, but you better believe he is hungry for another. It won't be easy for Brady, having lost his favorite target in Wes Welker.
However, the two-time Super Bowl MVP has done this before. It did not take very long for Brady to connect with Welker and Randy Moss in 2007.
The Patriots have so many weapons available to Brady on offense. This offense will be among the league's best with Brady leading the way.
Brady is, not surprisingly, the best player on the Pats' 2013 roster.