With the bulk of the 2013 roster returning, the New England Patriots should theoretically experience less turnover than most teams in the NFL. Indeed, the Pats' biggest additions might be players who were already on the roster, as foundational starters such as Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo should return to the lineup after suffering season-ending injuries last year.
Nevertheless, Bill Belichick runs a true meritocracy and is not afraid to alter how he divvies up playing time. Thus, even with the starting 22 ostensibly set, spring practices and training camp offer the opportunity for youngsters (like Kenbrell Thompkins last season) to catch the eye and earn a larger role going forward.
It's too early to make definitive depth-chart projections, but OTAs do offer the first glimpse into the molding of the 2014 roster. Based on the early buzz from the Patriots' first practices, here are a few players worth keeping an eye on going forward, as they could be ascending up the preliminary depth charts.