Patriots Went Surprisingly Chalk With Shallow 2020 53-Man Roster

Breaking down Patriots' initial 53-man roster

by Doug Kyed

September 6, 2020

In retrospect, it should have been exceptionally easy to fill out a New England Patriots 53-man roster projection this offseason.

Leading into roster cuts, Patriots fans always ask who is going to be the “surprise” cut. This year, it was a kicker — or two of them.

Other than cutting both Justin Rohrwasser and Nick Folks, the Patriots’ roster cuts were mostly expected.

These were the headlines: The Patriots waived just two draft picks — including Rohrwasser — didn’t keep an undrafted free agent following a lack of preseason games and released veteran running back Lamar Miller as he returns from a torn ACL.

Let’s go position by position to see where the Patriots stand with a week to go before their Week 1 matchup with the Miami Dolphins:

Brian Hoyer
Cam Newton
Jarrett Stidham

This is one of the Patriots’ deepest, most certain positions. It’s also one of the stronger overall quarterback depth charts in the NFL with a dependable backup in Hoyer and developmental starter in Stidham behind the starter, Newton.

Rex Burkhead
Damien Harris
Sony Michel
James White

Running back is another deep and relatively talented position. The Patriots dropped Miller and undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor but still have Michel, the starter, Harris, an early-down back with upside, White, the third-down back, and Burkhead, a change-of-pace option on all downs.

Damiere Byrd
N’Keal Harry
Julian Edelman
Jakobi Meyers
Gunner Olszewski

This is an easily upgradeable position. Behind Edelman, there’s no sure-thing on the roster. And Meyers, who is competing for the No. 3 role with Byrd and Olszewski, actually was more productive in 2019 than Harry, who will likely be the No. 2 receiver this season.

There are some appealing options on waivers including former Buffalo Bills speedy wide receiver Robert Foster and Cleveland Browns 2018 sixth-round pick Damion Ratley, who’s 6-foot-2 with 4.39-second 40-yard-dash speed. The Green Bay Packers also cut former Patriots practice squad wideout Jake Kumerow.

Devin Asiasi
Dalton Keene
Ryan Izzo
FB Jakob Johnson

Asiasi and Keene are the future, but the Patriots should look to upgrade the present by claiming a tight end and cutting Izzo. Former Texans tight end Jordan Thomas is the top option on waivers, and he’d come with some knowledge of the offense after working under former Patriots offensive coordinator and current Houston head coach Bill O’Brien.

David Andrews
Yodny Cajuste
Korey Cunningham
Jermaine Eluemunor
Justin Herron
Hjalte Froholdt
Shaq Mason
Michael Onwenu
Joe Thuney
Isaiah Wynn

Ideally, the Patriots would have a better third tackle than Cunningham. Actually, in a truly ideal world, Eluemunor wouldn’t be starting at right tackle in the first place, but that’s the situation the Patriots are in after Marcus Cannon (understandably) opted out for the 2020 NFL season. The Patriots could use better depth at offensive tackle, and if they can find it, then Herron and/or Cunningham might not be long for the roster.

The depth also isn’t great behind starting interior offensive linemen Thuney, Andrews and Mason. Froholdt, Onwenu and Herron have no NFL experience.

Beau Allen
Adam Butler
Byron Cowart
Lawrence Guy
Deatrich Wise

Allen could be heading to injured reserve on Monday. He has yet to practice in front of the media this summer.

Without Allen, the Patriots don’t have a traditional nose tackle on their roster with Guy being the closest thing.

Ja’Whaun Bentley
Shilique Calhoun
Brandon Copeland
Anfernee Jennings
Derek Rivers
John Simon
Josh Uche
Chase Winovich

Bentley, Copeland, Jennings and Uche are the options at inside linebacker while Calhoun, Copeland, Jennings, Rivers, Simon, Uche and Winovich all can play on the edge.

Bentley, Simon, Uche and Copeland would probably be the Week 1 starters. That’s fine, but it’s a significant dropoff from last season’s linebacker corps of Simon, Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins.

Justin Bethel
Stephon Gilmore
J.C. Jackson
Jonathan Jones
Jason McCourty

The biggest strength of the Patriots’ roster — Gilmore, Jackson, Jones and McCourty all are talented enough to start. “Safety” Joejuan Williams also could be included in this group.

Terrence Brooks
Cody Davis
Kyle Dugger
Devin McCourty
Adrian Phillips
Joejuan Williams

It’s still unclear who’s starting next to McCourty out of Brooks, Dugger, Phillips and Williams. The strong safety will be the weak link in the secondary, but the Patriots should figure it out quickly. There are some good options in that group that would also include Jones and possibly Jason McCourty.

P Jake Bailey
LS Joe Cardona
ST Matthew Slater

Oh hey, no kicker. The Patriots will need one. Look for them to bring back Nick Folk or to add one of the kickers who was cut this weekend.

Here are all of the options:

Kaare Vedvik
Chase McLaughlin
Matt Gay
Tucker McCann
Cairo Santon
Lirim Hajrullahu
Austin MacGinnis
Greg Joseph

Photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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