There's going to be quite a bit of time to hypothesize on which players will eventually make the Patriots' 53-man roster.
With a little less than a month till training camp, which will begin July 24 on the field, right now is as good a time as any to summarize where the roster stands at each position and to size up where the competition will be.
Here is a projected depth chart of the team's 90-man roster.
- The fullback position, led by James Develin, should not be considered a guaranteed staple of the team's offense. But Develin's play, as well as his versatility, could take away a roster spot from either the running backs group or wide receivers, which it has historically competed against. He can also play tight end, but for the purposes of this depth chart, is omitted there.
- At the end of the 2013 season, the Patriots had 12 offensive linemen on its roster with Sebastian Vollmer on injured reserve. With three rookies on board, the Patriots could trim the group considerably or keep the majority of the 14 players it has now. That will depend on where or not the team sees greater need elsewhere considering the depth here.
- Similarly, the Patriots carried 11 defensive linemen at the end of last season with Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly on injured reserve. With 16 on the current roster, and nine on the 53-man roster last season, it's obvious the competition at defensive tackle will be one of training camp's highlights.
- Extra attention should be paid to the Patriots subset positions, including 3-4 linebacker and nickel defensive back. Those are essentially starting roles on the team.
- Only five players in the the linebackers group, with 12 in total on the current roster, are currently expected to make the team. The Patriots carried eight on its 53-man roster last year without Jerod Mayo. The remaining group of players are essentially fighting for two to three spots.
- Matthew Slater continues to complicate matters for the wide receivers group. The Patriots have historically carried five or six receivers, utilizing six last year after the departure of Aaron Hernandez. An argument could be made for seven, thanks to Slater. So second-year players like Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce, as well as seventh round draft pick Jeremy Gallon, will certainly have to prove their worth. As has been noted, Thompkins has already been doing his part.
- Don't forget that the Patriots only carried two quarterbacks for the past couple of seasons. So Jimmy Garoppolo's arrival is going to make it harder for somebody else to keep their job.