Patriots Depth Chart Reset: Experience Gives Logan Ryan Edge At Cornerback

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots aren’t just spewing rhetoric when they say they’ve turned the page on the 2014 season.

There was extensive turnover between the Super Bowl XLIX-winning Patriots and the team built for the 2015 season, and as captain Matthew Slater said last week, this squad will have to forge its own identity.

Patriots stars and mainstays such as Vince Wilfork, Darrelle Revis, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley and Dan Connolly are gone, and with on-field practices starting last week, Belichick and his coaching staff are getting their first look at how the 2015 team might be formed.

It’s a little early to be talking about depth charts, but let’s take a look at the Patriots’ 90-man roster and see where players stand after the first week of OTAs:

QUARTERBACK
Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Garrett Gilbert
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Patriots sign another quarterback for training camp if Brady’s four-game suspension holds. Gilbert has the next three weeks to prove he can be the third-stringer, however.

RUNNING BACK
LeGarrette Blount, Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden, Tyler Gaffney
Experience within the Patriots’ system is key right now. Gray and Gaffney likely will have equal opportunities to fight for the backup role in training camp, but Gray appears to be seeing more reps early.

THIRD-DOWN BACK
James White, Travaris Cadet, Dion Lewis
White’s experience in the Patriots’ system gives him the inside track for the top third-down back role, but there’s a long summer ahead for Cadet to prove he can win the job.

FULLBACK
James Develin
Develin has no competition at fullback yet.

WIDE RECEIVER
Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Brian Tyms, Aaron Dobson, Brandon Gibson, Matthew Slater, Josh Boyce, Jonathan Krause, Chris Harper, Zach D’Orazio
Brian Tyms ended the 2014 season as the Patriots’ No. 4 receiver, and it appears he began 2015 in the same role. Dobson and Gibson have the best shot to pass him.

TIGHT END
Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui, Tim Wright, Fred Davis, Jake Bequette, A.J. Derby
Scott Chandler received a ton of reps in Friday’s OTAs, and it appears he could be a big part of the Patriots’ plans.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE
Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming, Jordan Devey, Caylin Hauptmann, Kevin Hughes
The Patriots have great depth at tackle, with Solder and Vollmer as the starters and Cannon as a super-sub. Vollmer did not participate in the first OTA session open to the media.

GUARD
Ryan Wendell, Cameron Fleming, Josh Kline, Caylin Hauptmann, Tre Jackson, Shaq Mason
Uncertainty swirls around guard, where there’s no clear-cut starter at either spot. Jackson and Mason will start the offseason at the bottom of the depth chart until they’re caught up.

CENTER
Bryan Stork, Ryan Wendell, Shaq Mason
Stork proved to be a solid starter in 2015, and the Patriots have two solid backups.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Sealver Siliga, Alan Branch, Chris Jones, Dominique Easley, Malcom Brown, Joe Vellano, Antonio Johnson, Vince Taylor
Siliga, Branch and Chris Jones weren’t on the field in Friday’s OTAs, giving some increased reps to Brown and Vellano. Brown could move up the depth chart quickly with a solid spring and summer.

DEFENSIVE END
Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Dominique Easley, Zach Moore, Rufus Johnson, Eric Martin, Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers
The Patriots are stacked at defensive end going into next season, and draft picks Grissom and Flowers know they might be fighting for roster spots.

LINEBACKER
Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher, Darius Fleming, James Morris, Chris White, Dekoda Watson, Jonathan Freeny, Matthew Wells, Xzavier Dickson
Hightower, Collins and Mayo were out Friday, so Spikes saw increased reps at middle linebacker. Morris could have a big role if he can stay healthy.

CORNERBACK
Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, Daxton Swanson, Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain, Justin Green, Darryl Roberts, Jimmy Jean, Eric Patterson
Experience was key at cornerback during the first Patriots OTA session open to the media. Ryan and Swanson were on the field early and often with Butler out. Fletcher, McClain and Roberts figure to compete for starting roles and roster spots when they get comfortable. However, don’t sleep on Swanson, who had a solid 2014 spring and summer.

SAFETY
Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner, Jordan Richards, Brandon King
Richards is buried on the depth chart until he can report to the Patriots after he completes final exams at Stanford. He should be back for the Patriots’ final OTAs on June 11-12 and for minicamp, which runs from June 16 to June 18.

Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images

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