It's a day off for the Patriots so it's as good a time as ever to update my depth chart for the Patriots.
As noted in the graphics, players in green (i.e. Tom Brady) are expected locks to make the 53-man roster. Players in red are not expected to make the 53-man roster. Everyone else is competing.
Take a close look at the team's offense here.
A few notes on the offense:
- James White has shot up the depth chart. I still suspect that Shane Vereen is the team's No. 2 running back, but White is right on his tail. And as I noted earlier today in my 5 takeaways, he's not just a third-down back.
- In the previous iteration of my Patriots depth chart, I did not have fullback James Develin as a lock. But he's been so impressive and been so lauded by the team (Nick Caserio, Tom Brady, etc.), I figure he might as well be.
- You could swap D.J. Williams and Justin Jones and no one would bat an eye. The competition is close for backup tight ends.
- Kenbrell Thompkins has shot up to the top of my depth chart for X receivers. It's clear his familiarity with the playbook has given him an upper hand over newcomer Brandon LaFell. And he's made some nice catches to earn his place at the top spot. Unfortunately, Aaron Dobson has not practiced yet so it is difficult to determine how the Patriots view him in terms of where he fits. But I suspect he would still be ahead of Josh Boyce.
- There are nine offensive linemen who I suspect are locks for the 53-man roster. If the Patriots carry 10 linemen into the regular season, as they've done before, that leaves five players — Josh Kline, Chris Barker, Jordan Devey, Chris Martin, and Braxston Cave — fighting for one spot. And right now, I'd say Kline is the front runner.
Take a look at the defense.
Some notes on this:
- I had seventh round draft pick Zach Moore as a lock to make the roster in my first projection. But I would concur with colleague Erik Frenz that he is most likely headed for the team's practice squad where he'll be able to hone his skills.
- I've moved defensive tackle Eathyn Manumaleuna up after he went flawless in 1-on-1s against the offensive line in padded practices.
- In minicamp, it appeared Nate Ebner would have a larger role in the secondary. That has been demystified in training camp and is represented in his drop at free safety. Youngsters Jemea Thomas and Daxton Swanson, both of whom are injured, showed promise at safety before being sidelined.
Here's the special teams.
- No telling who will come out in the long snapper competition.
- Matthew Slater, who has yet to practice, is likely not going to be the team's kick returner. But he is there because of his experience. Rookie Jeremy Gallon, before he was injured, has taken some snaps there along with rookie running back James White.
It's clear that the base of the team is already in place, but the underbelly of the roster continues to take shape as practices go on. It'll be interesting to see how positions like linebacker and safety operate in the team's first preseason game against Washington, Aug. 7. That'll help illuminate how well some players are doing in what can be considered tight competitive spots.