I know what some of you are thinking right now: “Isn’t it a 55-man roster?”

No, but you’re also not completely off base.

NFL teams have to whittle their roster down to 53 players at the cutdown date. That’s the most important detail in an exercise like a 53-man roster projection. You have to come away with 53, not 55, players.

Teams can temporarily elevate two players from their practice squad for games without having to pass them through waivers in return to their previous designation. One practice squad player cannot be elevated to the roster in consecutive weeks nor more than twice in a season (including playoffs) without being formally signed to the roster.

So, it would be pointless to designate two players as the Patriots’ 54th and 55th members of the roster, because they can’t be elevated in consecutive weeks nor more than twice in a season without being signed to active-roster contracts.

Hopefully, that clears things up.

QUARTERBACK (2)
IN: Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham
OUT: J’Mar Smith, Brian Lewerke

Smith has a better chance at a 53-man roster spot than Lewerke. The Patriots only keep two quarterbacks in our latest 53-man roster projection, however, since they should be able to get either Smith or Lewerke on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACK (6)
IN: Brandon Bolden, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Sony Michel, FB Danny Vitale, James White
OUT: FB Jakob Johnson, J.J. Taylor

Taylor has a chance to earn a roster spot. But at whose expense does it come? Bolden? Burkhead? Harris? We like Taylor’s shiftiness and pass-catching ability but not enough until we actually see it on a practice field.

WIDE RECEIVER (6)
IN: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Mohamed Sanu, Matthew Slater, Jeff Thomas
OUT: Quincy Adeboyejo, Damiere Byrd, Marqise Lee, Gunner Olszewski, Devin Ross, Will Hastings, Sean Riley, Isaiah Zuber

We have Thomas replacing Byrd in our latest 53-man roster projection. Hastings or Zuber easily could have replaced Byrd too. This is a solid crop of undrafted receivers.

Some Patriots fans have high hopes for Byrd, who could wind up being this year’s version of Maurice Harris or Dontrelle Inman.

More Patriots: Is Slot Receiver Of Future On Roster?

TIGHT END (3)
IN: Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Matt LaCosse
OUT: Ryan Izzo, Rashod Berry, Jake Burt

It’s unlikely the Patriots would only roster two rookie tight ends, so either LaCosse or Izzo is making the team, joining Asiasi and Keene. LaCosse was the better player last season.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
IN: David Andrews, Marcus Cannon, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, Isaiah Wynn, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt, Korey Cunningham, Dustin Woodard
OUT: Jermaine Eluemunor, Justin Herron, Michel Onwenu, Najee Toran

This is a tough puzzle to solve. Does Cunningham make it over Herron, a sixth-round pick, as a backup tackle? Does Woodard beat out Onwenu? If not, then who is the backup center? Cajuste? Thuney?

This is the best we could come up with. I’d expect the Patriots to add a veteran offensive lineman or two during the summer to join this depth chart.

DEFENSIVE LINE (4)
IN: Beau Allen, Adam Butler, Lawrence Guy, Byron Cowart
OUT: Nick Thurman, Deatrich Wise, Bill Murray, Nick Coe, Courtney Wallace

Wise has seen his snaps diminish from 543 in 2017 as a rookie to 432 in 2018 to just 229 in 2019. He’s no longer an ideal fit for the defense. Perhaps he could be traded to a team like the New York Giants who have Joe Judge as head coach and Bret Bielema as a defensive assistant coach.

LINEBACKER (9)
IN: John Simon, Chase Winovich, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Dont’a Hightower, Anfernee Jennings, Brandon King, Josh Uche, Brandon Copeland, Cassh Maluia
OUT: Tashawn Bower, Shilique Calhoun, De’Jon Harris, Derek Rivers, Terez Hall, Kyahva Tezino

We had Harris over Maluia in our last projection. Then we watched both players closely and understood why Maluia was drafted and Harris was not.

CORNERBACK (6)
IN: Justin Bethel, Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams
OUT: Lenzy Pipkins, D’Angelo Ross, Myles Bryant

Ross was really good last summer. But we can’t justify giving him a roster spot.

SAFETY (5)
IN: Patrick Chung, Kyle Dugger, Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Cody Davis
OUT: Terrence Brooks, Malik Gant, Adarius Pickett

Brooks is the odd man out in the secondary. Could the Patriots carry six defensive backs? Yeah. It’s probably not the best use of roster resources, however, when they could stash a player like Ross or Bryant on their practice squad.

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
IN: P Jake Bailey, LS Joe Cardona, K Justin Rohrwasser
OUT: None

Last player in: Dustin Woodard

Toughest omission: Terrence Brooks

Top practice squad picks: Hastings, Ross

More Patriots: Which Rookies Are Not Locks For 53-Man Roster?

Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images