Patriots Projected Week 1 Depth Chart: Who Starts At Wide Receiver?

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The New England Patriots did a pretty good job of keeping their opposition in the dark about their Week 1 depth chart during the preseason.

Despite the numerous question marks, we did our best to project starters and backups. Here’s how we think it looks with six days to go before the season starts.

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK
Tom Brady
Jarrett Stidham

The Patriots cut Brian Hoyer, making Stidham, a 2019 fourth-round pick, their backup.

RUNNING BACK
Sony Michel
James White
Rex Burkhead
Damien Harris
Brandon Bolden

Michel is the early-down back who has improved in the passing game. White is the passing-down back. Burkhead and Harris seemingly can do it all and could be mixed in on early downs and in “pony” sets with two halfbacks on the field at the same time.

FULLBACK
James Develin

Develin beat out Andrew Beck and Jakob Johnson.

WIDE RECEIVER
Julian Edelman
Josh Gordon
Phillip Dorsett
Jakobi Meyers
N’Keal Harry
Gunner Olszewski
Matthew Slater

Honestly, we have no idea. We’re throwing our hands in the air. The Patriots released Demaryius Thomas but are expected to bring him back. He’d be in the mix with Dorsett, Meyers and Harry for that No. 3 role, as well. Edelman is the only guarantee for Week 1. Gordon will probably take on an almost full share of snaps as the No. 2, but he might need to work on his conditioning after missing training camp. Dorsett has the best rapport with Brady. Meyers had the best training camp. Harry has the most potential but hasn’t played or practiced in full since Week 1 of the preseason because of an injury. He’s a candidate for IR. Thomas had the best preseason game, putting up seven catches for 87 yards with two touchdowns in Week 4. Our best guess is Dorsett and Meyers share the No. 3 role and wind up with around the same amount of snaps in Week 1. If Thomas comes back, then maybe he and Dorsett share that role.

TIGHT END
Ryan Izzo
Matt LaCosse

This is also a toss-up. Izzo was the No. 1 tight end in Week 3 of the preseason with LaCosse out with an injury. LaCosse has been limited for half of the summer and wasn’t really standing out before going down, but he was starting.

OFFENSIVE LINE
LT Isaiah Wynn-LG Joe Thuney-C Ted Karras-RG Shaq Mason-RT Marcus Cannon
OT Korey Cunningham-G Jermaine Eluemunor-C Russell Bodine

This is as clear cut as can be.

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Lawrence Guy
Danny Shelton
Adam Butler

Guy is a first- and second-down player. Shelton likely will primarily play in the base defense and near the goal line, though he could mix in on passing downs. Butler will likely rotate with Guy and play in the Patriots’ nickel defense.

DEFENSIVE END
Michael Bennett
Byron Cowart
Deatrich Wise Jr.

Bennett will likely play in nickel and on third and long. He might take base defensive reps off to stay fresh. Cowart could wind up starting over Bennett in the base 3-4 defense. Wise is a rotational pass rusher.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
Kyle Van Noy
Jamie Collins (base)
John Simon
Shilique Calhoun
Chase Winovich

Van Noy and Collins are the starters in the 3-4 base. Collins kicks inside in nickel. Both players are used as pass rushers on third down. Simon is our favorite to start in nickel, though Calhoun and Winovich will push for snaps.

INSIDE LINEBACKER
Dont’a Hightower
Jamie Collins (nickel)
Elandon Roberts
Ja’Whaun Bentley

Hightower and Collins start inside in nickel. It’s still not clear if Roberts or Bentley will start next to Hightower in base. Roberts started in the third preseason game.

CORNERBACK
Stephon Gilmore
Jason McCourty
Slot Jonathan Jones
JC Jackson
Joejuan Williams

We think Jackson could push for starting snaps. Williams will probably be a matchup player against bigger receivers and more athletic tight ends. He also can play safety.

SAFETY
Devin McCourty
Patrick Chung
Duron Harmon
Terrence Brooks
Obi Melifonwu
Nate Ebner

Harmon is McCourty’s backup. Brooks is Chung’s backup. Melifonwu and Ebner will primarily play on special teams.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Stephen Gostkowski
P Jake Bailey
LS Joe Cardona

Bailey beat out Ryan Allen for the punting job.

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