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New England Patriot Roster Projection-Defense, v2

Right to the defense…

DE (5):

Locks:  Trey Flowers, Adrian Clayborn, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise

In:  Keionta Davis

Out:  Eric Lee

Way Out:  Frank Herron

Comments:  Guess I probably should have had Clayborn in the “lock” category all along.  Davis has been getting some prime time and a ton of praise, so I made some room for him.  Not much else has changed here.

DT (4):

Locks:  Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton

In:  Adam Butler

Out:  Vincent Valentine

Way Out:  John Atkins, Trent Harris

Comments:  Adding Davis, knocks Valentine off.  Davis apparently has played some inside, so maybe that’s legit.  I still wouldn’t be surprised if both Adam and Vincent broke camp with the team.  But one of them may not make it.  Right now I say Vincent.  But tomorrow I could say Adam.  Likely really doesn’t matter either way of course.

LB (5):

Locks:  Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley

In:  Marquis Flowers, Elandon Roberts

Out:  Christian Sam

Way Out:  None

Injured Reserve?:  Harvey Langhi

Comments:  Bentley seems to be the biggest story of camp…well, other than that putrid wide receiver group.  The biggest positive story perhaps?  I’m locking him in because of that.  I’d rather keep just about anyone other than Flowers and Roberts.  But my sense is that they are staying.  Langhi may be ticketed for IR again this year.  It is clearly still an underwhelming group.

CB (6):

Locks:  Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson

In:  Cyrus Jones, J.C. Jackson

Out:  Jason McCourty, Ryan Lewis, Keion Crossen,

Way Out:  Jomal Wiltz

Comments:  I’m buying into the “McCourty doesn’t make the team buzz”.  Unless he can play safety and beats that stiff Jordan Richards off the team.  Jason played some safely in the last game.  Not sure that’s enough to keep him.  I just have a feeling Cyrus gets one more chance…especially with the team really not having a punt returner for at least 4 games.  And who wants Edelman returning them anyway once he comes back?  Undrafted free agents usually make the Pats every year.  Sometimes one, sometimes more.  I think the only one of those dudes I have on my squad now is Jackson.  After all, he was supposed to be drafted, but teams shied away because of some of his off-field hijinx.  He may not make it through waivers to the practice squad.  The others like Crossen and Lewis may.  And don’t you want to keep some of these young guys when you look at the group as a whole?  Other than Gilmore, a bunch of question marks.

S (4):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon

In:  Jordan Richards

Out:  Damarius Travis

Way Out:  A.J. Moore

Released:  Eddie Pleasant

Comments:  Still Richards…yup.  I don’t want it.  But I don’t see him being jettisoned.

Specialists (8):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon King (ST), Brandon Bolden (ST), Nicholas Grigsby (ST)

In:  None

Out:  Corey Bojorquez (P), Geneo Grissom (ST)

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Looks like Allen has held off the kid, as “Bojo” hasn’t punted in the preseason at all.  I actually looked to include Grissom this time around, since he was playing with the first string defense last game.  Yes, I swear I saw him.  But in the end, since he is a guy that can come and go off the roster, I kept him off.  But we haven’t seen the last of him, I can promise you that.

As far as the IR/PUP/NFI and practice squad go, well, I took a stab at some IR guys earlier.  Doesn’t look like anyone is eligible for the PUP list, as it appears all of the preseason PUP guys were activated off it.  The NFI list has a couple of wide receivers on it in Darren Andrews and Cody Hollister…but if they were healthy they sure as hell ain’t helping that group anyway.

Practice squad?  10 spots there.  If we go by my calculations, I would put the following 10 on the ideal initial practice squad:  Etling, Webb, McCarron, Lucien, Ferentz, Lee, Valentine, Sam, Lewis and Crossen.

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New England Patriot Roster Projection-Defense

Moving right on to the defense…

DE (4):

Locks:  Trey Flowers, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise

In:  Adrian Clayborn

Out:  Keionta Davis, Eric Lee

Way Out:  Frank Herron

Comments:  I’m putting Flowers in the Shaq Mason category.  Trey is in the last year of his deal and may command big money next year.  Money I don’t think the Pats will pay.  Now, he may not command “Chandler Jones money”.  He hasn’t had the start to his career that Chandler had.  But he may still be too expensive for Bill’s taste.  I think if a trade made sense, Bill may do it.  I probably wouldn’t, as you can see the depth is a little thin at this position.  But I’m not ruling out the possibility.

Hopefully Wise can build on a decent rookie year and that Rivers can show something after missing last year due to injury.  Clayborn is probably a lock due to the contract…a surprising one at that…with like 2/3 of his sacks coming in a single game last year.  But again, every year there is a long-time veteran that just doesn’t fit in the Patriots’ system.  For some reason, I think it may be him.  Just a hunch.  It’s probably wrong though.

Lee flashed after being claimed on waivers last year…in the regular season anyway.  So he probably has a chance.  Davis always seems to be around when I write these projections, but not sure he is any type of answer.  I’ve never heard of Herron, so he will need to make some noise in camp for me to take him seriously.

DT (5):

Locks:  Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton

In:  Adam Butler, Vincent Valentine

Out:  None

Way Out:  John Atkins, Trent Harris

Comments:  One more guy I put in the “possible trade” category is Brown.  His contract is up after this season.  And he may require an investment.  The acquisition of Shelton could grease the skids for that…though Shelton’s contract is up after the year too.  Seeing that they just made the trade to get Shelton, a trade of him seems unlikely.  But maybe with the other guys around, Brown can be shopped.  Again, I do not think this will happen, but I am not overlooking the possibility.  Guy has his fat contract and played well enough last year I guess, so he’s in.

We had Butler as “way out” in the initial projection last year.  Smart.  But of course, he was someone we never heard of and he needed to catch the eye to improve his standing.  And he certainly did it appears.  I think with a year of development, he sticks again.  Valentine missed all of last year.  But if he is healthy, he stays.  Because he is also young and cheap.  And Bill likes his fat guys.

This years’ “never heard of dudes” in this category are Atkins and Harris.  So we will follow their camp progress…or lack thereof.

LB (5):

Locks:  Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy

In:  Marquis Flowers, Elandon Roberts, Ja’Whaun Bentley

Out:  Harvey Langhi, Christian Sam

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Once again, an absolutely putrid group here, especially if Dont’a can’t stay on the field…which is bound to happen.  A stud when healthy, unfortunately, that almost is never the case.  They love Van Noy and gave him a ton of dough…still trying to figure that one out.  Flowers and Roberts stink, simple as that.  But who else is there?  And the team likes these guys too.  Bentley makes my team because some of the draft picks have to make it, don’t they??  (My team has the three first and second rounders and fifth rounder Bentley making it and the five sixth and seventh rounders on the outside looking in).  Sam, as a sixth rounder, may sneak on, who knows?  And Langhi showed some promise last year as an undrafted free agent, made the team, played sparingly, then had that horrific car accident.  Who knows how well he has recovered?  If he has fully, he will get his shot, since again, this is a sad linebacking corps.

CB (5):

Locks:  Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson

In:  None

Out:  Cyrus Jones, Ryan Lewis, Keion Crossen, J.C. Jackson

Way Out:  Jomal Wiltz

Comments:  Gilmore is the clear #1 now, but who plays the other spots and in what order is anyone’s guess right now.  The staff seems to like Rowe.  And also Jonathan Jones, who got more time at corner as the year went on before he went down with an injury late.  Some people think Jason McCourty may not be quite the lock some think he is.  We’ll see, but that’s where I’m leaving him now.  Dawson clearly makes it as a second round pick, but how much he plays is up for debate.

Lewis had some buzz in the spring and was on the practice squad most, if not all, of last year.  But then the team signed McCourty and drafted Dawson.  So much for that.  Crossen was a seventh rounder and I’m not sure who Jackson or Wiltz are, so let’s leave them where they are for now.

Cyrus Jones?  Interesting case.  Is he worth keeping around and trying to salvage?  Perhaps.  He looked a little better in the preseason last year before being lost for the year with injury.  But a ton better?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think he fumbled on returns anyway.  Has Bill given up on second rounders before?  Yup.  Bill actually has taken several bad second round picks during his tenure.  But he will get some kind of shot this summer, I will bet you that.  Perhaps Cyrus or one of the others can play safety?  They could also try to trade him, but what the heck are you going to get for him with how his career has gone thus far?  It will be interesting to watch, since I have a feeling he may stick around.

S (4):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon

In:  Jordan Richards

Out:  Damarius Travis, A.J. Moore

Way Out:  Eddie Pleasant

Released:  David Jones

Comments:  Locks are easy…then we get to Richards.  Another dude who I think is atrocious.  But another dude I think the staff loves for some reason.  I don’t know if one of the corners can convert to safety and knock him off.  Or one of these other safety characters can do it either.  Jones spent last year the practice squad and was then dumped before camp.  Travis was around on the practice squad last year too, but no one is chatting him up now.  Moore?  No idea.  I do know they signed Pleasant the other day, so that seemingly leaves him out of the mix, barring a miracle.  Right now, looks like Richards will be around.  Sad to say.

Specialists (8):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon King (ST), Brandon Bolden (ST), Nicholas Grigsby (ST)

In:  Ryan Allen (P)

Out:  Corey Bojorquez (P), Geneo Grissom (ST)

Way Out:  None

Comments:  It’s amazing that with Gostkowski’s inconsistency the past few years the team has not brought someone in to at least challenge him a little bit.  It just doesn’t make much sense.  But with Stephen and Cardona facing no competition, they are locked in.  The fact that another punter is in camp this year means Allen’s job is not safe.  He probably holds the kid off, but we shall see on that.

The rest of the locks basically do not play another position, so they are listed here.  And since Bill loves his core special teamers, they all stick with the exception of Grissom.  But Geneo will be back.  He’s a guy they can bounce on and off the roster and no one else wants him.  So he will always be available.  And perhaps even break camp with the squad as well.

That’s about the size of it.  I’ll wait until later in camp to project the practice squad and IR/PUP/NFI and other lists.  Looks like Slater, Ebner, Britt, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones are starting on the preseason PUP list.  Bolden is on the non-football illness list apparently as well.  Some of these dudes starting on the regular season PUP list will open up roster spots for others.  Let’s see how that all goes.

Patriot Free Agency (in)action, Defense…and…The End…

Continuing on…defense AND specialists, that is.  Can’t forget how important the special teamers are to the Patriot organization!!

And, in case you forgot, there’s this:  For the record, we will say where the player came from if they are an addition and where they went if they jumped ship.  We will also note if they finished last season on the Patriots injured list (IR) or on the Patriot practice squad (PS).

DE:

Holdovers:  Keionta Davis (IR), Trey Flowers, Eric Lee, Derek Rivers (IR), Deatrich Wise

Arrivals:  Adrian Clayborn (Atlanta)

Departures:  None

In limbo:  None

Comments:  Seems a little bizarre we start this section with someone named Keionta Davis, eh?  The danger of going in alphabetical order I suppose.  Anyway, it would seem that even with the addition of Clayborn, the expected return of Rivers and the hope of growth from Year One to Year Two for Wise, this group still may not be saved.  Lee had spurts at the end of last season.  But there’s also probably a good reason he spent the year on the Buffalo Bills practice squad.

In addition to not really knowing if Rivers can actually play, or whether Wise will get better, I cannot say I am too bullish on the Clayborn move.  I mean, it appears this won’t cost the team much, per usual.  But on the surface, it’s fair to question how a player can get 6 sacks in one game and then 3.5 total in the other 15.  Maybe he didn’t play all 16, but I’m not even going to look it up.  You get the point.  Clayborn certainly cannot hurt.  But there still needs to be an infusion of talent here this offseason.  And I’m not sure where they are going to get it.  The free agent list I am looking at is…weak.  The draft?  Sure, but any studs here will be long gone by the time the Pats even pick in the first round.

Let’s hope they figure out something here as well.  Oh, and Flowers is a free agent after this season.  He may not necessarily be a stud, but he is the best they have.  May want to figure something out with him too, while they are at it.

DT:

Holdovers:  Malcom Brown, Adam Butler, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine (IR)

Arrivals:  Danny Shelton (Cleveland)

Departures:  Alan Branch (released)

In limbo:  Ricky Jean Francois

Comments:  There’s a lot of NFL bodies here now, but how good really are they?  Shelton apparently can play the run, but not the pass.  I’m still not sure what to make of Brown, and he’s been around a few years now.  I’m not exactly sure what Guy did last year, after signing that fat free agent contract last year.  Butler still likely remains a project and we probably can say the same thing about Valentine, to be honest.

Branch would help…well, the 2016 Branch and not the one that loitered around last year.  I suppose that’s the risk you take with guys like that though.  Francois really isn’t in limbo, as he said he wasn’t re-signing with the Pats.  I think he was babbling about going to a team with a better scheme fit like Chris Long did after the 2016 season.  Francois isn’t even as good as Long, so I am not sure what he was talking about.  He was lucky to have a job.  He was only here because Branch didn’t feel like playing.  Whatever…best of luck Ricky Jean.

Here’s hoping they do some more work here too.  But not as much as the place that needs the most work…

LB:

Holdovers:  Dont’a Hightower (IR), Harvey Langi (IR), Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy

Arrivals:  None

Departures:  Shea McClellin (IR-released), Trevor Reilly (PS-not re-signed)

In limbo:  Marquis Flowers, James Harrison

Comments:  If only Hightower could ever stay healthy, this group would…still suck badly.  Holy crap.  I haven’t seen a worse collection of stiffs at one position…maybe ever.  Ok, that’s hyperbole.  I’m sure if I just analyzed the position groups of the Cleveland Browns over the last two years I would find worse.  But the message is clear:  This is the area of greatest need.

The team loves Van Noy and that’s really kind of inexplicable.  Roberts is terrible and everyone else listed may be worse than terrible.  I’m not sure what the Patriots’ plan is here.  This should have been the first thing addressed.  And they haven’t added anyone.  The draft?  Sure.  But again, picking late in each round and having several needs…how many impact players can they get from there?

I don’t know if Preston Brown made a gazillion tackles for the Bills over the years because there were simply too many players running free past their defensive line.  But that would have seemed to have been a guy to target.  Especially after he publicly said he would love to come here like some other former Bills (Hogan, Gilmore, Gillislee).  And the fact that he signed with the Bengals for a mere 4 million for 1 year.  25 years old too.  I’m not sure why the Pats didn’t sniff him out a bit and why he signed for next to nothing.  I guess I am missing something, but on the surface, I don’t understand the lack of interest.  No one is really talking about it locally, so maybe it’s just me.

But the fact remains that they need several capable bodies here.  And there is no way Brown would have hurt.  At this point, can adding anyone hurt?

CB:

Holdovers:  Stephon Gilmore, Cyrus Jones (IR), Jonathan Jones (IR), Ryan Lewis (PS), Eric Rowe, Jomal Wiltz (PS)

Arrivals:  Jason McCourty (Cleveland)

Departures:  Johnson Bademosi (Houston), Malcolm Butler (Tennessee)

In limbo:  None

Comments:  Believe it or not, the Pats may be all set here.  Gilmore came on later in the year.  McCourty may not be an All-Pro, or even technically as good as Butler, but he should be solid, by all accounts.  I can probably live with Rowe and Jonathan Jones as backups.  And as much as I hate to say it, let’s give Cyrus one more chance.  I’m not expecting much, but you never know.  Lewis has been getting some love here as well, but I have no idea about him.  Adding a body here, of course, would not hurt.  But the needs are more pressing elsewhere.

S:

Holdovers:  Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, David Jones (PS), Devin McCourty, Jordan Richards, Damarius Travis (PS)

Arrivals:  None

Departures:  None

In limbo:  None

Comments:  Same here as the cornerbacks I would say.  Devin struggled some and likely isn’t worth the money he gets paid.  But you could do a lot worse than the trio of him, Chung and Harmon.  I would be very disappointed to see Richards on the team next year.  He is flat-out awful.  But we are splitting hairs if we are complaining about the 4th safety.

Specialists:

Holdovers:  Ryan Allen (P), Brandon Bolden (re-signed), Joe Cardona (LS), Nate Ebner (ST, re-signed), Stephen Gostkowski (K), Nicholas Grigsby (ST), Geneo Grissom (ST), Brandon King (ST, re-signed), Matthew Slater (ST, re-signed)

Arrivals:  None

Departures:  None

In limbo:  None

My favorite group!  Once again, the Pats carry more special-teams only guys than anyone else.  This HAS to be a fact, right?  Slater apparently re-signed as I write this and with the team bringing back Ebner, Bolden and King, well, the gang’s all here!  Cardona had a bad snap and Allen a worse hold in the Super Bowl, but I cannot complain too much about those two otherwise.

The key question here is:  Is this the year they bring in competition for Gostkowski?  One year left on his deal, with a 5 mil cap hit, which I think is all guaranteed.  But although he seemed to get back on track last year during the regular season, his playoff performance left a lot to be desired…again.  Even with the aforementioned bad snap, he still should have hit that 26-yarder…blindfolded.  And another stray extra point.  I don’t know, maybe make him fight for his job this training camp?

It won’t happen, but we can hope, right?  I suppose that since kickers generally are all of a sudden pretty average in the NFL, especially since they moved the extra point back, they may as well hang on to Gostkowski.  But how about even attempting an upgrade?

That pretty much sums everything up.  I’m not anticipating many more moves before the draft.  We can all be somewhat disappointed at that.  But looking at the free agent list, there does appear to be plenty of swill out there, so how many more of those guys can really help?  Guess we gotta hope the draft class is strong…

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