New England Patriots – Way too early Roster Projection – Offense

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Training Camp is underway across the NFL and we are well in to week 2 at this point. The Patriots
will play their first pre-season game on the 11th of August against the Giants. It will be a great
chance to see the second and third string players in real game action for roster buffs like myself.

Now, you might think it is was too early to do a roster projection – and you would be right, it is.
My only caveat is that trades and other free agents will be added to the roster, but for the purposes
of this, I’ll assume the final 53 on on the roster at this moment.

On the roster
Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe.
Practice Squad
Mac is the QB of now and the near future. Hopefully that will extend for 20 years, but for now, he’s
a starting level QB with a lot of potential.
Hoyer’s roster status might be dependent on how ready Zappe is. I think the coaching staff
wouldn’t be overly comfortable with only a 2nd year player and a rookie at QB on the roster. Hoyer
is a low level backup, but one that is familiar with the system.
Anyone who thinks that Zappe will be stashed on the Practice Squad, needs to be realistic. In
order for him to get on the Practice Squad, he would need to be cut and go on waivers. He will get
picked up by another team as a 4th round rookie Quarterback. Coach Belichick has said in the
past; “you only cut a player you are prepared to lose”.

Running Backs
On the roster
Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, James White, Pierre Strong Jr., Kevin Harris.
Practice Squad
J.J. Taylor
Harris and Stevenson showed enough last season to prove that they are good enough to be a top
half of the league Running Back stable. Expect this to be Harris’ last season in New England as
his contract is up at the end of the season
Pierre Strong looks set to take over as the 3rd down back, but it will be contingent on how he is in
pass protection. Typically Patriots 3rd down backs are red-shirted for their rookie year as they
learn the system, (e.g. Shane Vereen & James White).

Kevin Harris has impressed everyone with his physical stature. At 5’10, 225lbs, he is closer to
Stevenson than Harris in build, and projects as a bruising opening down back that could be a
ready-made replacement for Harris next season.
I originally wrote that White wouldn’t be on the roster this year as he recovers from injury, but I
can’t follow through with it. Provided he can get off NFI soon, White makes the roster.
JJ Taylor has had a few years to make an impact and get more playing time. He looks electric on
the Practice Field and in pre-season but has yet to do much in a real NFL game, albeit in limited

Wide Receivers
On the roster
DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers , Tyquan Thornton, Ty
Montgomery, Matthew Slater
Practice Squad
Tre Nixon
Kristian Wilkerson, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Josh Hammond
This is one of the easier position groups to solve as most of the players are relatively established.
Slater, Parker, Bourne, Meyers and Thornton are roster locks.
In Agholor’s case, there has been a lot of talk about a trade due to his contract size and relatively
meagre output last year. The issue is if the Patriots think the contract is bad, then so will the other
31 teams. Unless a deal happens where the Patriots pay a portion of his salary and a low round
draft pick is exchanged, then he will be on the roster.
Ty Montgomery is listed as a WR on the roster but I see him as taking the 5th running
back/special teams role that Brandon Bolden fulfilled last year. Montgomery is the perfect player
for the Patriots. A true versatile player that can play on all 4 downs.
There is a lot of talk coming from Foxborough in Mini-Camp that Tre Nixon is a dark horse to make
the roster. At this point I don’t think there is space. Unless one of the other five are traded or
injured, I think he will revert to the Practice Squad. Also, he has been mainly playing with the
second group in practice which isn’t too positive so far.
Like JJ Taylor, I think Kristian Wilkerson’s time might be at an end. He has had some decent
catches in regular season games but again, most of his highlights were in pre-season against
lesser players. He could stick around the Practice Squad but for now; cutsville.
NotsoL’il Jordan Humphrey (he’s 6’4″), does provide intriguing size but he currently sits as either
the 8th or 9th man in the Wide Receiver room. A rash of injuries might be his only hope.
Hammond was only added after camp started. It seems strange that a player would be added to an
already relatively secure position group, but outside of Special Teams or injuries, Hammond will be
an outsider for a roster spot.

Tight Ends
On the roster
Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Devin Asiasi
Practice Squad

Dalton Keene
Matt Sokol
Henry and Smith, (sounds like an old English Soap manufacturer) are the big money roster locks
here and aren’t going anywhere.
Devin Asiasi’s future is up in the air. Of the two young Tight-Ends, Asiasi looks more promising,
but really has accomplished very little in his NFL career thus far, (mainly due to injury). If he stays
fit during camp, i think the talent is there for him to make it.
Dalton Keene might just end up going the way of Ras-I Dowling and Anthony Garcia and never
really being healthy enough to get on the field. I am leaning towards Practice Squad for now as he
has the H-Back versatility but you don’t want an oft-injured player ending up on IR again. Keene
looks like he is dealing with an injury at the moment which makes his position even more tenuous.
Unfortunately for Matt Sokol, he has only played in 2 games in 3 seasons and is yet to record a
statistic. I would wager that this doesn’t change in 2022 with the Patriots.

Offensive Tackles
On the roster
Isaiah Wynn, Trent Brown, Justin Herron
Practice Squad
Andrew Stueber
Yodny Cajuste
The book-ends at Left and Right Tackle I think are set for this season at the very least. Wynn and
Brown appear to have swapped sides during this offseason with Brown now at LT. Wynn really
needs to play 17 games this year to have any hope of getting a deal with either the Patriots or any
other team in 2023. Trent Brown is probably going to be his normal self – miss a few games but
play like a borderline top-10 Tackle when he is healthy.
Justin Herron is probably the strongest of the group of young Tackles that remains. He is a solid
backup that can play both Tackle spots (preferably Left). He will give up pressure from time to time
but he is a 7th round pick and a backup. I think Herron offers good cover and was a bargain for his
draft slot.
Stueber’s case for a roster spot is interesting. He is currently listed on NFI but there are rumours
that he won’t be seen until 2023. In a similar vein to Cam Fleming, Stueber offers the ability to play
RG and RT which might win him a second look next season. For now, I have him on the Practice
Squad as I felt an IR section would be cheating.
Yodny Cajuste has struggled with fitness since being drafted in 2019 in the 3rd round. He has only
managed to feature in 7 games so far He would need an outstanding Training Camp to make the
Patriots think he is worth keeping around.

Offensive Guards
On the roster
Cole Strange, Mike Onwenu, Arlington Hambright

Practice Squad
Chasen Hines & Yasir Durant
Drew Desjarlais & Bill Murray
At Offensive Line, the starters at Guard are locked in place – Cole Strange at LG and Mike Onwenu
at RG. Lots of people were critical of the Strange selection as the 2022 1st round pick. I am no
different. No matter how good Strange is, with a roster that was lacking in top end talent, a Guard
was never going to have the impact that the team required. Rant over.
Big Mike Onwenu will hopefully be allowed to settle down at the RG position where he plays best
after he filled in a number of positions last season which saw his play drop off. Onwenu looks to
be taking the transition to the new Offense a bit slower than the others. The new zone running
concept is different to the Power Run that Onwenu excels at. Give him time, he will come good.
Hambright arrived in New England with little fanfare, but when Michael Onwenu & Cole Strange
have stepped out of reps, it’s Hambright that has stepped in. That’s something to watch out for as
he could have displaced Yasir Durant.
Yasir Durant has been a capable backup when called upon, however if the Patriots like Hambright
more, Durant is the type of player that they could sneak onto the Practice Squad.
Chasen Hines will begin Training Camp on NFI so he will be up against it to make the roster. The
LSU alumni is an interesting size, at 6’3″ and 350lbs he is quite a heavy young man, but to look at
his physique, he looks less than 300lbs. After starting on NFI, it’s quite likely that he spends the
season on IR.
Bill Murray has made the dreaded position switch from DT to OG, which is the first step to being
cut. See Etling, Danny and Berry, Rashod.
Drew Desjarlais is an interesting proposition. A former CFL player, it’s hard to gauge how good he
will be in the NFL. Outside of a few outliers however, they usually end up back in Canada.

On the roster
David Andrews & James Ferentz
Practice Squad
Will Sherman
Kody Russey
David Andrews had begun camp on PUP and is making his way back in a part time role as he gets
back to full fitness. He has no immediate competition for a roster spot.
One would think that James Ferentz is a plucky youngster trying to make his way in the NFL given
that he has been on and off the roster for the last few seasons – he’s 33 years old. Kody Russey
does have a chance to get some higher level reps the longer that Andrews stays in his part-time
role. It could stand to him too if the Patriots decide that they need to have a youngster replace
Ferentz as the emergency Centre. Realistically though, I think Ferentz does his usual hovering
between the active and practice roster.

Sherman has been taking reps at Centre this offseason so it will be interesting to see if he makes
the roster as a swing interior lineman given his versatility. At the moment I’m 50/50 between
Ferentz and Sherman for a roster spot.


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