Giardi's Patriots roster projection: 3 QBs

Giardi's Patriots roster projection: 3 QBs
August 11, 2014, 11:45 am
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FOXBORO - After several weeks of camp and one preseason game, it’s time to make my first 53-man roster projection for the reigning AFC East champion Patriots.

Actually, you’ll notice the number is actually 54. I do that because Brandon Browner begins the year with a four-game suspension and won’t count against the 53. 

Here we go...

Quarterbacks (3)
- Tom Brady
- Ryan Mallett
- Jimmy Garoppolo

Tempted to cut Mallett because Belichick loathes having to carry three QBs. But regardless of how you felt about Mallett Thursday (or all camp for me), letting him walk leaves the Pats awfully thin at the game’s most critical position.

Running Backs (4)
- Stevan Ridley
- Shane Vereen
- James White
- Roy Finch

This is a total gut decision. Brandon Bolden has been mediocre at best when he’s actually practiced (he missed all of last week vs the Redskins). Meanwhile, Finch had a day to forget in the preseason opener but I have a feeling his return ability and potential for a big play might just get him on the 53.

Fullback/Tight Ends (3)
- Rob Gronkowski
- Michael Hoomanawanui
- James Develin

Develin gives the Pats options and also allows them to not bother with all these other JAGS that have rolled through camp or are still in search of a job. The Steve Maneris are always a phone call away. What else do they have to do? Also, I could see Justin Jones coming back as a practice squad guy, despite Belichick’s dismissal Sunday. 

Wide Receivers (6)
- Julian Edelman
- Danny Amendola
- Brandon LaFell
- Kenbrell Tompkins
- Josh Boyce
- Aaron Dobson

KT has fallen back to earth after an eye-opening start to training camp. Not so for Edelman and Amendola. Arguably having the best camps of anyone (along with TB12 and Revis).

Offensive Linemen (9)
- Nate Solder
- Logan Mankins
- Dan Connolly
- Marcus Cannon
- Sebastian Vollmer
- Josh Kline
- Bryan Stork
- Cameron Fleming
- Jon Halapio

Toughest cut is Ryan Wendell. Real good season in 2013 but struggled last year. If Stork can get back on the field in pads and show the skills the staff believes he has, not only do I think Wendell’s days in Foxboro are numbered but see Stork as the starter. Also impressed by the work of Fleming and Halapio in the preseason game vs. the Redskins. They’d been ok in camp but that was a welcome step forward.

Defensive Linemen (10)
- Vince Wilfork
- Tommy Kelly
- Sealver Siliga
- Chris Jones
- Dominique Easley
- Chandler Jones
- Ron Ninkovich
- Zach Moore
- Michael Buchanan
- Will Smith

Tape revealed better a better outing from Moore than I initially saw Thursday night. Buchanan’s athleticism makes him save - for now. I know Kelly has been on some’s radar as a potential surprise cut, but now with the injuries to Jones and Siliga and the fact that he can still play makes me put his name down in pen. As for Smith, I haven’t seen much, but think the Pats should have learned their lesson from a year ago, when it became clear what they had wasn’t enough and a call had to be made to Andre Carter. Give the proven track record guy a shot.

Linebackers (6)
- Jerod Mayo
- Jamie Collins
- Dont’a Hightower
- James Anderson
- Chris White
- Darius Fleming

Fleming has more versatility and athleticism than Steve Beauharnais, I had no problem making that cut. Collins sitting out week one of the preseason was an eye opener. That’s established veteran treatment right there. Anderson didn’t flash when I watched tape of him in Chicago last year, but his coverage ability is a plus, without question.

Defensive Backs (9*)
- Darrelle Revis
- Alfonzo Dennard
- Logan Ryan
- Kyle Arrington
- Devin McCourty
- Duron Harmon
- Tavon Wilson
- Nate Ebner
- Brandon Browner (*suspended first four games)

No way would I put Pat Chung ahead of Harmon, and then it becomes a case of guaranteeing that contract. I wouldn’t. Maybe he’s one of those guys that will wait around in case the Pats have a need.

Specialists (4)
- Steven Gostkowski
- Ryan Allen
- Danny Aiken
- Matt Slater

You’ll notice Joe Vellano doesn’t make the final cut despite all that playing time he got a season ago, and Jake Bequette’s two-year internship as a third-round pick ends. Too bad. Bequette has all the requisite physical skills but hasn’t put them together. I wait no more.