Patriots Mailbag: Ranking Top 10 Players On New England’s 53-Man Roster

Who are the Patriots' best players this season?


December 18, 2020

The New England Patriots will try to play spoiler this week and pay the Miami Dolphins back for last season.

The Dolphins might need to win out to ensure a playoff spot, and they face the Las Vegas Raiders and Buffalo Bills after the Patriots. The Dolphins beat the Patriots in Week 17 last season, forcing New England into the wild-card round and out of a first-round bye.

The Patriots went on to lose to the Tennessee Titans in that wild-card round matchup for an early playoff exit.

Now the Patriots are long-shots for the playoffs but can still affect the race with a win over the Dolphins in Miami.

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

Would you please rank the top ten players on this roster? It feels a little barren after 5 or so.

That’s a really tough question.

I’ll stick with only players on the 53-man roster. That leaves off candidates like Julian Edelman and Isaiah Wynn and opt-outs like Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung and Marcus Cannon.

1. Stephon Gilmore
2. Joe Thuney
3. Devin McCourty
4. Shaq Mason
5. JC Jackson
6. David Andrews
7. Jake Bailey
8. Lawrence Guy
9. Damien Harris
10. Cam Newton

The following players were the toughest omissions:

Justin Bethel
Mike Onwenu
Chase Winovich
Jakobi Meyers
Matthew Slater
Jonathan Jones
James White

I’m sure there are plenty of folks who think Newton should either be much higher or left off of the list. I’ll accept all the vitriol from both sides. Bring it on!

Bethel and Slater are both great, but I couldn’t stick more than one special teams player in the top 10. Onwenu is a great sixth-round find, but he’s still the fourth-best player on the offensive line. Winovich’s snaps counts have been too all over the place. Meyers needs to prove it for a few more weeks.

-Since added more speed on defense in Dugger uche and Wino.
-Do you see the same thing happening on offense?
-Sure hope so need more Juice for sure.

The Patriots already have a very speedy wide receiver in Damiere Byrd. The question is whether they need better fast players on offense.

If the Patriots acquire a player like wide receiver Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin or JuJu Smith-Schuster, then they aren’t necessarily getting significantly faster, they’re just adding a more talented player. Will Fuller, on the other hand, would definitely add a jolt of speed, but there are questions about his durability.

I don’t think speed is the Patriots’ biggest issue on offense. I just think they need more talent in the skill positions.

How do u see Belichick approaching the draft if the pats stay around a mid teen pick? Trade up or trade down?

That depends on a lot of factors, and because of that, there might not be a clear answer.

The Patriots don’t have a third-round pick. It was taken away as part of the Patriots’ punishment for the Cincinnati Bengals taping scandal (Spygate 2.0). So, that makes a difference while they try to add more depth throughout their roster. That takes away potential ammo to move up.

I might just stay put. Moving up sounds great in theory, but if it requires the second-round selection or a future pick, then they better be grabbing a really, really good player especially if they wouldn’t pick again until the fourth round.

What is the plan with Thuney next season?

The goal should be to sign him to a long-term deal, but that hasn’t happened over the last year. So, what’s to say something will come together before mid-March?

Franchising Thuney again isn’t really an option. He’d cost nearly $18 million, which is way too much to pay for a guard, even if he’s one of the best in the NFL.

So, the Patriots should either sign Thuney to a long-term deal or let him walk. Those are really the only two options, because no one is going to want to trade for an $18 million guard either. It helps the Patriots that Onwenu, Justin Herron and Jermaine Eluemunor have all shown promise this season.

– Do you want to keep Cam on the Pats as starting QB?
– Who is the top WR we should target?
– Are you happy with Josh McDaniels’ work this season? Grade from A to F?

I don’t personally have a preference. I would definitely be interested to see how the offense looks with Newton in his second year under center, however.

Robinson is the top option, but I wonder how much he’ll cost. If a player like Smith-Schuster is significantly cheaper, then I might lean towards that option.

It’s been a challenging season for Josh McDaniels with a new quarterback and somewhat of a dearth of top talent in the wide receiver ranks after Julian Edelman went down with a knee injury. Maybe a C+?

Let’s go rapid fire.

How are you planning on using the additional month in January for off season work?

It’s definitely going to be different, but the Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs in the wild-card round last year, so we already got a taste of a longer offseason.

I have some interesting new ideas for content. I’ll also continue previous series’ on hidden Patriots, draft fits, potential quarterbacks and, of course, seven-round mock drafts.

Depressed Patriots Fan @PatsNationYT
Gut feeling.. who is our QB next season?

For some reason, I want to say Jimmy Garoppolo.

If available, do you think pats explore a trade for stafford?

Possibly, but I do think his relationship with Matt Patricia could play a factor.


Putting off shoveling out all of this snow.

Update: I shoveled all of the snow. It was less fluffy than advertised.

How much snow you get?

Too much.

Real question: on a scale of 1-3 (3 being likely) what are the odds Jimmy G plays QB for the Pats again?

I’m playing it safe with a 2. Sorry.

Turtles or Hershey’s Kisses ?
And your top 3 XMas Candy ? #MailDoug #DougsBuds

Almond Hershey’s Kisses.

I’ll go:

1. Those chocolate oranges
2. Almond M&Ms (can’t find the Christmas ones anywhere this year)
3. Fruit flavored candy canes

What do you think the chances are that the Patriots will sign Hunter Henry next year?

I certainly think the Patriots will try. It all depends on cost and where Henry wants to go.

If Kyle Juszczyk doesn?t sign an extension with the 49ers, do you think the Patriots sign him?

I know Bill Belichick loves fullbacks, but I’m not sure if he loves them enough to pay a 30-year-old fullback who touches the ball 35 times a year top dollar. I’d allocate those funds towards a wide receiver or quarterback.

How do you see the conflict between the Patriots’ need to find a long-term QB and Belichick’s apparent unwillingness to account for need in making draft picks playing out? #MailDoug

The Patriots do factor in need to some degree while drafting, and I do believe quarterback is different. If the right guy is there, I believe Belichick would pick him, but I don’t believe he’d reach for a quarterback. If that makes sense.

What are the odds we see Matt Patricia back as DC supplanting our ?acting? coordinators?

I’d say it’s probably more likely that the Patriots would bring him back in some sort of consultant role, but it’s definitely not out of the question that Matt Patricia could return to New England. Patricia and Belichick remain close.

Thumbnail photo via Kevin R. Wexler/ via USA TODAY NETWORK Images
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
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