Patriots 53-Man Roster Locks: Questions Remain At Thin Linebacker Position

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The Patriots haven’t played a preseason game yet, and they still have more than three weeks before roster cuts, but there are plenty of guarantees on New England’s 90-man roster.

We sifted through the Patriots’ depth chart and identified 39 players we feel are sure things to crack the initial 53-man roster. That number doesn’t include wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is suspended for the first four games of the season.

That means there still are 14 spots up for grabs throughout the rest of training camp and the entire preseason.

We would be floored if these players are cut Sept. 1.

QUARTERBACK (2)
Tom Brady
Brian Hoyer

Hoyer might not have been a stone-cold lock entering training camp. But rookie Danny Etling simply hasn’t been good enough through two weeks of camp to serve as Brady’s backup in 2018. The Patriots need Hoyer.

RUNNING BACK (4)
Rex Burkhead
James Develin
Sony Michel
James White

Brandon Bolden is a near lock, but if Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee both prove themselves worthy of roster spots, then perhaps the Patriots could field a special teams ace at another position.

WIDE RECEIVER (4)
Phillip Dorsett
Julian Edelman (suspended)
Chris Hogan
Cordarrelle Patterson
Matthew Slater

Kenny Britt is close to being a lock, as well, but he’s still not healthy. Until we see him practice in full on his tweaked hamstring, we’re holding off on calling him a lock.

TIGHT END (2)
Rob Gronkowski
Jacob Hollister

If Dwayne Allen didn’t have a $5 million salary, then he might be guaranteed a roster spot too. But the Patriots have to decide if Allen is worth that much money to serve as a reserve blocker.

OFFENSIVE LINE (7)
C David Andrews
OT Trent Brown
OT Marcus Cannon
G Shaq Mason
G Joe Thuney
OT LaAdrian Waddle
OT Isaiah Wynn

Luke Bowanko, Cole Croston, James Ferentz, Ulrick John, Ted Karras, Jason King, Brian Schwenke and Matt Tobin will battle it out for one, two or three more spots on the roster. Our money is on Croston and Karras, but everyone on that list has spent time on an NFL active roster.

DEFENSIVE LINE (7)
DT Malcom Brown
DE Adrian Clayborn
DE Trey Flowers
DT Lawrence Guy
DE Derek Rivers
DT Danny Shelton
DE Deatrich Wise

Adam Butler, who appears to have packed on some weight this offseason, is the nearest lock not included in this entire list. Vincent Valentine could still beat him out, though.

LINEBACKERS (3)
Dont’a Hightower
Brandon King
Kyle Van Noy

We think Ja’Whaun Bentley, Marquis Flowers, Nicholas Grigsby, Harvey Langi and Elandon Roberts also will make the roster. Would we be shocked if they don’t? No, we would not. This is the weakest position on New England’s roster.

CORNERBACKS (4)
Duke Dawson
Stephon Gilmore
Jonathan Jones
Eric Rowe

Jason McCourty has been impressive in camp, but he still hasn’t cracked the first-team rotation. It’s still possible a young player like J.C. Jackson, Ryan Lewis or Keion Crossen beats him out.

SAFETIES (4)
Patrick Chung
Nate Ebner
Duron Harmon
Devin McCourty

Jordan Richards, Eddie Pleasant and Damarius Travis will fight it out for the fifth spot.

SPECIALISTS (2)
LS Joe Cardona
K Stephen Gostkowski

Punter Ryan Allen isn’t a lock because Corey Bojorquez is on the 90-man roster.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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