Patriots Roster Breakdown: Who’s A Lock, On The Bubble Nearing Cutdowns

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The New England Patriots made roster projections a lot easier this week.

They released seven players, bringing their 90-man roster down to 83 and opened up potential spots because of injuries to Dion Lewis and Sebastian Vollmer.

With the 75-man cutdown less than a week away and the 53-man deadline in just nine days, let’s categorize who’s a lock, an odd-on favorite for a roster spot and on the bubble. And just a quick note: I don’t use locks loosely.

QUARTERBACK
Locks: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett
Odds-on: None
On the bubble: None
The Patriots never brought in a fourth quarterback, so there’s no one to release at this point. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots sign a quarterback cut over the next two weeks to add to the practice squad after Sept. 3.

RUNNING BACK
Locks: LeGarrette Blount, James White
Odds-on: Brandon Bolden, James Develin
On the bubble: D.J. Foster, Tyler Gaffney, Joey Iosefa
At this point, it would be shocking if the Patriots cut Blount or White. It would be very surprising if they released Bolden or Develin. Bolden is very, very likely sticking around, but how many players whose value primarily comes on special teams do the Patriots need?

WIDE RECEIVER
Locks: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Matthew Slater
Odds-on: Keshawn Martin
On the bubble: DeAndre Carter, Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper, Devin Lucien, Nate Washington
I expect Martin to impress in the remaining two preseason games to take the sixth and final spot at receiver. If Amendola begins the season on PUP, Dobson likely would make the team.

TIGHT END
Locks: Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett
Odds-on: A.J. Derby
On the bubble: Clay Harbor, Steven Scheu, Bryce Williams
Derby is the favorite for the final tight end spot, but Harbor could make a push over the final two games. It’s a bit more of a long shot, but the Patriots also could keep Harbor over Develin.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Locks: Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, Marcus Cannon, Shaq Mason
Odds-on: David Andrews, Jonathan Cooper, Josh Kline, Bryan Stork, Sebastian Vollmer, LaAdrian Waddle
On the bubble: Chris Barker, Cameron Fleming, Jon Halapio, Tre’ Jackson, Ted Karras, Keavon Milton
The odds-on players all are very likely to make the roster, but it would be surprising, not shocking, if the Patriots released them. Based on preseason reps, Solder, Thuney, Cannon and Mason are definitely sticking around. Since Mason broke his hand, the Patriots would need to release him with an injury settlement.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Locks: Malcom Brown, Trey Flowers, Chris Long, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Vincent Valentine
Odds-on: Alan Branch, Geneo Grissom, Terrance Knighton
On the bubble: Markus Kuhn, Woodrow Hamilton, Anthony Johnson, Rufus Johnson, Joe Vellano
Sheard has a knee injury, Ninkovich has a torn triceps, and McClellin has an undisclosed injury. Flowers and Long could be the starters to begin the season and are locks. Branch is very likely to make the roster, because if the Patriots were going to cut him, they would have done that and not suspend him. Kuhn is only on the bubble because it’s tough to imagine the Patriots carrying 10 defensive linemen, plus Shea McClellin. They could choose to carry an extra defensive lineman or two because of injuries, however.

LINEBACKER
Locks: Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Shea McClellin
Odds-on: Jonathan Freeny, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Brandon King
On the bubble: Ramon Humber, Elandon Roberts, Kevin Snyder
I’m being a little stingy with the locks here. Freeny, Grugier-Hill and King are very likely making the roster.

CORNERBACK
Locks: Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones
Odds-on: Justin Coleman
On the bubble: Jonathan Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Darryl Roberts
Coleman isn’t on the bubble, but if the Patriots like Jones, LeBlanc and/or Roberts enough, they could elect to keep them over Coleman, a 2015 undrafted free agent.

SAFETY
Locks: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner
Odds-on: None
On the bubble: Vinnie Sunseri
It would be shocking to see any of the top five safeties cut.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Locks: Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona
Odds-on: None
On the bubble: None
The Patriots didn’t bring in competition at the specialist roles this summer.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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