Patriots Projected Depth Chart Reset: Defensive Line Competition Ongoing

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The New England Patriots are just two days away from almost-real football.

The Patriots will take on the New Orleans Saints in their first preseason game Thursday, but first they’ll compete in two joint practices.

Let’s first take a look at the Patriots’ projected depth chart based on what we’ve seen at training camp.

+ Injured

QUARTERBACK
Tom Brady/Jimmy Garoppolo
Jacoby Brissett
— Jimmy Garoppolo is the starter in Weeks 1 through 4, and Brady is the starter from Week 5 on. Thus, co-starters.

RUNNING BACK
Dion Lewis+ (PUP)
LeGarrette Blount
James White
Brandon Bolden
Tyler Gaffney
Donald Brown+
Joey Iosefa
D.J. Foster+
— Gaffney is above Brown because he’s been in the system for two years, and he already has a week’s worth of more practice reps. Brown is still dealing with a hamstring injury.

FULLBACK
James Develin
Clay Harbor
Joey Iosefa
— The Patriots could keep both Develin and Harbor, but since they play similar roles, it might make more sense to keep just one.

WIDE RECEIVER
Julian Edelman
Danny Amendola+ (PUP)/Chris Hogan

Keshawn Martin+
Aaron Dobson
Chris Harper
DeAndre Carter
Malcolm Mitchell

Nate Washington+
Devin Lucien
Matthew Slater

— This isn’t to say that Dobson, Harper or Carter has a better chance of making the roster than Mitchell. I’ll say that again and bold it this time: Dobson, Harper and Carter do not have a better chance of making the roster than Mitchell. Mitchell is a lock as a fourth-round pick, while those other players are on the bubble. So, why are they above Mitchell on our depth chart? Because if the season started today, and if injuries caused any of the reserve receivers to start, it’s likely Dobson, Harper or Carter would play over Mitchell, since he’s a rookie and they have more experience in the Patriots’ offense. This likely will change by the end of the preseason, when Mitchell has proved he grasps the playbook.

TIGHT END
Rob Gronkowski/Martellus Bennett
Clay Harbor
A.J. Derby
Bear Pascoe
Steven Scheu
Bryce Williams+
— The Patriots will likely run a two-tight end base offense this season. Derby has impressed of late at camp.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE
Nate Solder/Sebastian Vollmer+ (PUP)
Marcus Cannon
LaAdrian Waddle
Cameron Fleming
Keavon Milton
— With Vollmer on PUP, Cannon is running with the first team at right tackle over Waddle, Fleming and Milton.

GUARD
Joe Thuney
Josh Kline
Jonathan Cooper+
Shaq Mason
Tre’ Jackson+ (PUP)
Ted Karras
Chris Barker
Jon Halapio
Kyler Kerbyson
— Kline, Cooper, Mason and Karras have all received snaps at right guard in camp, but Thuney has been a mainstay on the left side. It wouldn’t be shocking if Karras leapfrogged Jackson.

CENTER
David Andrews
Bryan Stork+
Ted Karras
Josh Kline
Kyler Kerbyson
— Stork might have had an edge on Andrews before suffering a concussion in training camp. Andrews has received first-team reps for over a week now.

INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE
Malcom Brown
Alan Branch/Terrance Knighton/Markus Kuhn
Vincent Valentine
Frank Kearse
Anthony Johnson
Joe Vellano
Woodrow Hamilton
— Brown is a near lock to start in the Patriots’ base defense. Kuhn is receiving a ton of first-team reps right now, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Branch, Knighton and Kuhn (if they all make the roster) rotate at defensive tackle next to Brown.

PASS RUSH
Jabaal Sheard/Rob Ninkovich
Chris Long/Shea McClellin
Geneo Grissom/Trey Flowers
Rufus Johnson
— Sheard and Ninkovich should start, but Long and McClellin will have roles. It’s possible only one player out of Flowers, Grissom and Johnson makes the 53-man roster.

LINEBACKER
Jamie Collins/Dont’a Hightower
Rob Ninkovich/Shea McClellin
Jonathan Freeny
Kamu Grugier-Hill
Ramon Humber
Brandon King
Elandon Roberts
Kevin Snyder
— Ninkovich and McClellin are listed as linebackers because the Patriots have run 3-4 base alignments where both players line up as outside linebackers and drop into coverage during practice.

CORNERBACK
Malcolm Butler/Logan Ryan
Justin Coleman
Cyrus Jones
Jonathan Jones
Darryl Roberts
E.J. Biggers
Cre’von LeBlanc
V’Angelo Bentley
— Jonathan Jones, Roberts, Biggers, LeBlanc and Bentley are still fighting for the fifth cornerback spot, but Jones appears to be the favorite for now.

SAFETY
Devin McCourty/Patrick Chung
Duron Harmon
Jordan Richards
Nate Ebner
Brock Vereen
Cedric Thompson
Vinnie Sunseri
— Harmon is a pseudo-starter, because he’s carved out a role in the Patriots’ nickel package. Ebner is off playing rugby at the Olympics, which has given Vereen and Thompson chances to shine.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Stephen Gostkowski/Ryan Allen/Joe Cardona

Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images

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