Patriots Mailbag: Which Wide Receivers Make 2020 53-Man Roster?

Which Patriots wide receivers are looking best in training camp?

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It’s not an ideal offseason for the New England Patriots to expect their draft picks to immediately contribute, but some rookies already are standing out in training camp practices.

Safety Kyle Dugger, linebacker Josh Uche and tight end Devin Asiasi appear to be competing for starting roles in New England despite the lack of spring practices.

The lack of organized team activities and minicamp makes this offseason easily comparable to the 2011 NFL lockout year. Players at least were able to meet virtually this spring. There was a preseason in 2011, however.

Offensive tackle Nate Solder started 13 games as a rookie in 2011. Running back Stevan Ridley played a considerable role as a rookie, and cornerback Ras-I Dowling started the season before getting injured (and injured and injured and injured).

So, it’s not completely ridiculous to expect some rookies to play key roles for the Patriots this season.

Watch above and read below for this week’s mailbag.

@sebbehn
You’ve had a few practices to watch, now. Who’s QB1 ? Best guess. #MailDoug

I’m still saying Cam Newton.

He hasn’t necessarily been the best quarterback on the field in training camp so far, but it’s also really tough to say who owns that distinction. I still believe Newton ultimately will start more games than Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham this season. I don’t know who takes the first snap Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, however.

@max_meier2
Which of the non Edelman, Sanu, Harry WRs has the best shot of getting regular work come season

That’s a really good question. None of the wide receivers have really stood out four days into training camp.

Damiere Byrd might have the best shot at this point. He’s in the mix with Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. Devin Ross is probably a step behind them. Then comes the undrafted rookies Isaiah Zuber, Will Hastings and Jeff Thomas. Hastings and Thomas are intriguing, but the former has been limited in practice and Thomas participated for the first time Thursday and was also limited.

I can’t wait to see Hastings and Thomas when they get opened up. Both players are extremely quick.

@neteamen22
Does Gunner or Ross make itch they waivers and make the practice squad or snatched up by Detroit, Miami or giants?

I think Olszewski might be getting underestimated. He made the team last season, and it’s not like the Patriots have crazy competition at wide receiver this summer.

Olszewski looks significantly better this offseason, and he adds versatility by being able to return punts. He’s also just a fun story.

@TuckerRossCon
Who do you think will be the starting right tackle?

I would guess former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor, whom the Patriots acquired last summer in a fourth-, sixth-round swap, at this point.

I think players like Yodny Cajuste and Korey Cunningham will get a shot to earn the role, but time is running out with the start of the season only a few weeks away with no preseason.

Eluemunor is an interesting fit. He’s primarily played guard in the NFL, but he played right tackle and guard at Texas A&M. He’s athletic for his size, but he does lack ideal length for an offensive tackle. The Patriots are seeing what he can do for now.

Another option would be to move Joe Thuney to right tackle and start Hjalte Froholdt at left guard. Froholdt is getting a lot of snaps this summer, and he impressed teammates last preseason.

@ofibroso
Who will look more different this year: offense or defense? #MailDoug

I think I’d say the offense simply because of the quarterback change. They also could have new starters at running back, wide receiver, tight end and right tackle.

The middle of the Patriots’ defense will look much different, but their defensive line, edge defenders, cornerback and free safety will look familiar.

@Krithik90843901
So with Edelman, Harry, and Sanu being locks. And Slater being Slater. We have 3 spots left probably. Who would you say fits the other 3 spots?

As of right this second, I would go: Olszewski, Meyers, Byrd.

Olszewski has enough versatility and upside to keep around.

Meyers hasn’t shown much through four practices, but I believe he’ll come around.

Byrd has made enough plays that if the season started today, I believe he’d be on the roster.

Ross is making a push, though, and Hastings and Thomas still have a ton of potential. We just haven’t seen them perform yet, so it’s tough to put them on the roster right now.

Let?s go rapid fire.

@mailliam18
What is the likelyhood that Damien Harris is the starting running back Week 1 and for the rest of the year?

Week 1? Fairly high right now. For the rest of the year? Not as confident. I think the Patriots would allow Sony Michel to lose the job before immediately putting him on the bench in his return from injury.

@Dead54AJ
Who has been your favorite “bottom of the roster” guy so far? Like one of those dudes who came over on a futures deal or spent all year on PS, someone that seemed like at best a camp body but has been showing out?

Wide receiver Devin Ross. Linebacker Terez Hall has shown up too.

@KonnieRong
Do you play video games

Nah, the newest system I own is a Playstation 2.

@Adam________
JEFF THOMAS?!

Jeff. Thomas.

@Funkyolddog1
Will Jeff Thomas make an impact this year and do you think he will make the team?

It’s too early to know. I’m hoping he’s a full participant Friday so I can keep you guys updated on his progress.

@ShazyFifty
Should we be concerned about Harry missing 2 days of practices??

Yes. It’s not ideal in a truncated offseason after Harry missed half of last season with injuries. It’s not ideal at all.

@Nichola78428899
Brian Hoyer gonna end you being quarantined? #maildoug

I don’t know what this means.

Like, cut then quarantined as an emergency quarterback? NFL teams can keep veteran players on the practice squad this season. So, that’s probably how they would handle that situation.

@riraho5
Coke or Pepsi??

Regular Pepsi. Diet Coke.

How about that?

@Jaihawkk
Is N’Keal Harry’s roster spot in any jeopardy?

No.

@adamdelong11
When will the rookies have official jersey numbers? Belichick always does this and it gets frustrating #MailDoug

It might not be until Week 1. They already had them last year at this time because of the preseason games.

@JefFullerMyself
What’s the more impressive feat, a dback making a pick in practice or a QB and WR connecting on a long pass in practice? Seems like it has to be dback, right? #maildoug

A defensive back intercepting a pass since contact is limited.

@rlbyrne29
1h
Replying to @DougKyed
maildoug seriously though, with the info we have today, which running backs make the final roster?

Damien Harris, James White, Rex Burkhead and … that all depends.

If Lamar Miller and Sony Michel stay on PUP, then J.J. Taylor could sneak on. If Miller comes off PUP, then he would likely beat out Taylor. If Michel gets healthy, then he would definitely beat out Taylor.

@SKELEPUG
Is too much stock being placed in stats like TDs and INTs during practice? I think a lot could be players exploring the limits of their skills and taking chances until they know what they have in themselves and in their team mates

Yes. Interceptions definitely get improperly amplified because it’s one of the rare plays reporters can tweet out during practice.

@LennyHarrisCRS
#MailDoug A name I keep hearing is Myles Bryant. Anyway he can find a spot in that crowded secondary?

It’s going to be extremely difficult, but it’s definitely unsurprising that the Patriots found another talented undrafted defensive back. We’ll see how many more plays Bryant can make this summer.

@tayfieux
Why is 6 afraid of 7

Because seven ate nine, duh.

Photo via Eric Adler/New England Patriots

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