Patriots Mailbag: How Many Players Are Locks To Make 53-Man Roster?

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Before the New England Patriots go on a nearly six-week break before training camp, let’s empty out the mailbag one more time.

Watch above and read below for the last mailbag before training camp.

With Dwayne Allen’s early struggles pass catching, do you see him as a potential surprise cut? #maildoug
— @Rotsen1230
I guess, because it would be a surprise, but he has struggled catching passes this spring. I’ll say this: I don’t think Allen is a lock. I’m also very stingy with whom I’ll label a roster lock, though.

Here’s my full list of roster locks (don’t @ me):

QB Tom Brady
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
RB Rex Burkhead
RB Mike Gillislee
RB James White
WR Brandin Cooks
WR Julian Edelman
WR Chris Hogan
WR Malcolm Mitchell
WR Matthew Slater
TE Rob Gronkowski
C David Andrews
OT Marcus Cannon
OT Antonio Garcia
G Shaq Mason
OT Nate Solder
G Joe Thuney
DT Alan Branch
DT Malcom Brown
DE Trey Flowers
DT Lawrence Guy
DE Derek Rivers
LB Dont’a Hightower
CB Malcolm Butler
SS Patrick Chung
SS Nate Ebner
CB Stephon Gilmore
FS Duron Harmon
FS Devin McCourty
CB Eric Rowe
P Ryan Allen
LS Joe Cardona
K Stephen Gostkowski

That’s 33 players.

Some notable names left off that list: QB Jacoby Brissett, RB Dion Lewis, FB James Develin, WR Danny Amendola, TE Dwayne Allen, C/G Ted Karras, DE Kony Ealy, DT Vincent Valentine, DE Deatrich Wise, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Shea McClellin, LB Elandon Roberts, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Brandon King, CB Jonathan Jones.

I strongly believe those 15 players will make the team — don’t look too deeply into the names on that list. But based on their contracts/role/other players at their positions, I could envision a scenario where they could potentially be released, and I wouldn’t be absolutely floored and flabbergasted. For a player to be a “lock,” I would need to be flabbergasted if they were cut. And if any of the above 33 players were released, I would be flabbergasted. I’d probably even tweet out “wow.”

I’d probably also tweet out, “wow” if any of the above 15 players were released too, but that’s just because I think I tweet “wow” a lot.

Who is your surprise player that won’t be on the team once they cut down to 53?
— @rickeyeasterjr
Since the Patriots only have a few roster spots open, who are some surprise cuts? Give me real, Malcolm Butler INT-type surprises.
— @DanielVConnolly
Fans love surprise cuts. I can understand why because it would be totally crazy if I could predict the future, but they’re pretty much impossible to guess, and they rarely happen.

Would McClellin count? He didn’t contribute much defensively last season, and while he is a special-teamer, he played less than 50 percent of special teams snaps in 2016.

I know it’s early, but how’s DJ Foster look so far & what are the chances he sneaks onto the roster, maybe over Dion Lewis? #maildoug
— @Ryanmb777
Foster looked great in minicamp and OTAs. If he continues to thrive in training camp and preseason, then the Patriots needs to strongly consider keeping him on the roster. He showed a ton of upside as a receiver this spring and offers versatility since he played running back and wideout in college.

He could make the roster over Lewis, but it’s unlikely. If the Patriots don’t envision a big role for Lewis is 2017, however, then perhaps it would make sense to keep Foster around over the older, more fragile vet.

Which player(s) deserve the “first to arrive” and “last to leave” the building accolade?? #MailDoug
— @r_lopes12
If they’re on the Patriots, then they probably deserve the first to arrive and last to leave monikers.

Edelman arrives really early. And based on practice, Flowers might be the guy who’s most likely to be last to leave.

You want me to say Rex Burkhead, don’t you? Well, I won’t. I refuse.

OK, fine. It’s probably Rex Burkhead.

With the new offensive additions in Cooks, Allen, Gillislee and Burkhead what do you think the Pats offense will look like? #MailDoug
— @MichaelProOG
Very varied.

The Patriots will be using many different personnel groupings and, as usual, ask their players to take on many different roles.

I also can’t imagine many skill-position players will play very close to 100 percent of offensive snaps. Edelman played all 16 games last season but still only was on the field 78.2 percent of the time and led all Patriots skill players in snaps. I’d expect that from Edelman again and even less playing time for their running backs, Hogan and maybe even Gronkowski. Cooks likely will be on the field more than 80 percent of the time.

Let’s go rapid fire.

@DougKyed Hi dad #MailDoug
— @TheProBeest
Hey, son.

My question: How am I going to get through all this time without a mailbag Doug? I need my fix.
— @Patriots_karma
That’s easy. Just start reading through mailbag archives.

I’d also suggest you spend your Friday mornings working for the next five weeks. You’ll fool your boss into thinking you work hard, and then you can go back to reading the mailbag on Friday mornings when I’m back.

‘Sup?
— @MCmattycallaway
I’m preparing for upcoming five-week break by staying up too late and watching weird movies. In the last few days I’ve watched “Hook,” “Dirty Grandpa,” “13 Going On 30” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”

Just threw on “Zoolander No. 2.” Will it be worse than “Dirty Grandpa?” Let’s find out.

Best Patriots/NFL press box food items, and how many bugs for each
— @mattyports
I’d give Gillette Stadium’s meatballs 10 buds, the chicken parm nine buds, and the carrot and red velvet cakes 15 buds apiece. The cookies get three buds, and the post-game pizza gets two buds.

San Diego’s press box food got five bugs, but the fact they had an iced coffee machine gets 10 buds.

Dallas and San Francisco get lots of buds for their press box food. I don’t love the food in Miami or at MetLife. They both get two bugs.

Any plans during the break before training camp starts for you? #MailDoug
— @MichaelProOG

I’m going to South Carolina for a while in July. Other than that, I plan to hang around the house a lot, paint my deck, wear Hawaiian shirts and do flips into pools.

what’s your favorite non-WrestleMania PPV from the Attitude Era? #maildoug
— @JeffWIIM
That’s a really good question. I think I’d say King of the Ring 1998 if only for the Mankind-Undertaker hell in a cell match. I never got pay-per-views as a kid, but I did order that one for my birthday.

I actually remember far more pre-Attitude Era PPVs, because I would rent the VHS tapes as a kid. I love every pay-per-view with Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenen on commentary. Royal Rumble 1992 is a classic.

I’ve also always had a soft spot for SummerSlam 1993 for some reason.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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