Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots: Projecting the Final 53

Each team across the NFL must trim their rosters to 53 players prior to Saturday at 6 p.m. It will be the final wave of roster moves ahead of the regular season opener. Without out a doubt, the New England Patriots will have to make many difficult decisions. Their roster is very deep this season. Here’s how I envision things shaking out.

Quarterbacks: 3

Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo

Keeping Mallett on the roster provides the Patriots with an insurance policy to Brady. Even though Garoppolo was outstanding this preseason, he still has a ways to go in terms of NFL readiness and development. Mallett would provide immediate experience in the horrific event that Brady were to go down.

Running Backs: 4

Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White, Brandon Bolden

The Patriots will be in need of some sort of rushing game if they hope to avoid becoming a one-dimensional offense. There had been some talk of Ridley being cut, but that notion is insane. Ridley gives the team a solid option on running downs and in goal line situations. Bolden as well. White and Vereen will contribute more so in the passing game. Balance is key.

Fullbacks: 1

James Develin

Develin not only lines up in the backfield on running plays, but he can also line up at tight end and catch the ball out of the backfield. His versatility speaks volumes and the Patriots cherish that.

Tight Ends: 3

Rob Gronkowski, Tim Wright, Michael Hoomanawanui

With Gronk and Hoo-man’s health in question, Wright will assume a big role from the start. His play in Thursday’s preseason finale was indicative of that. The newcomer played in 43 of the team’s 70 offensive snaps. Bill Belichick wants him up to speed ASAP.

Wide Receivers: 5

Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Bradnon LaFell

Second-year receiver Josh Boyce did not impress in the preseason. Jeremy Gallon and Brian Tyms could be potential practice squad guys.

Offensive Line: 9

LT Nate Solder, RT Sebastian Volmer, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, LG Josh Kline, G/T Marcus Cannon, C Bryan Stork, T/G Jordan Devey, T/G Jon Halapio

Josh Kline played the entire game Thursday night against the Giants. He’ll likely get the start Week 1 when the Patriots open up in Miami.

Defensive Line: 9

DT Vince Wilfork, DT Chris Jones, DT Sealver Siliga, DT Dominique Easley, DT Joe Vellano DT/DE Zach Moore, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, DE Jake Bequette

Jake Bequette showed the ability to hold his own on the point of the attack Thursday night. He also was able to generate a strong pass rush, recording one sack. Zack Moore also impressed, racking up several tackles and one sack.

Linebackers: 6

Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Steve Beauharnais, Ja’Gared Davis, Darius Fleming

Fleming played a lot in the preseason and did not disappoint. Beauharnais plays with great poise and intelligence. Davis has shown the ability to tackle well.

Cornerbacks: 6

Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler

Without question, Butler played himself on to the roster with a solid preseason showing. He’s shown tremendous cover ability and can tackle in space. Browner, who is suspended the first four games, will not count against the initial roster count.

Safeties: 4

Devin McCourty, Nate Ebner, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung

We know Belichick likes himself some Rutgers guys. Harmon will open the season starting opposite McCourty. Chung will also see a lot of time. Tavon Wilson does not make the cut.

Special Teamers: 4

K Stephen Gostkowski, P Ryan Allen, LS Danny Aiken, Matthew Slater

Tags: New England Patriots

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