Roster cut-down day is nearing for all 32 NFL teams. I’ve decided to try my luck at predicting what the illustrious and unpredictable Bill Belichick’s roster will look like with just 53 players. This time around, for part two of three, I’m looking at the offensive and defensive linemen.
Patriots Offensive Line
Patriots Left Tackles (1)
The Patriots 2018 first-round pick missed all of his rookie campaign after tearing his Achilles in preseason week one. Over a year since the injury, he has begun showing his starting potential. Though he didn’t start camp, as he was recovering, he was quick to take the reigns of being the starter. He established himself as a dominant pass-blocker in preseason week 2, and a powerful run-blocker, setting the edge for Sony Michel and Co. This is a no-brainer for Belichick.
Practice Squad LTs (2)
Dan Skipper, Tyree St. Louis
Skipper took over as the temporary starter while Wynn recovered. He impressed early on and possesses size similar to last season’s starter, Trent Brown (Skipper: 6’10, 320 Ibs., Brown: 6’8, 359 Ibs.). However, he has struggled during the preseason with penalties consistently, showing he isn’t nearly ready to be a starter. That struggle may allow the Patriots to sneak him through waivers and onto the practice squad, as emergency insurance to Wynn. He can play on both sides of the line (left tackle and right tackle), which gives him a bit more added value.
St. Louis is a 22-year-old undrafted free agent out of Miami. He hasn’t stood out much at all in camp or preseason, but between him and Martez Ivey, I take St. Louis. There really isn’t much of a reason why as you could really go either way. I guess I just like his name more!
Who Gets Cut?
Martez Ivey, I touched on earlier, and that’s all I really have against him. The Patriots do need a few emergency linemen prepared to go on the practice squad, but there’s no shortage on the tackles. That being said, it’s either one of Ivey and St. Louis, not both.
Cedrick Lang is another left tackle getting released. Lang has the versatility to play on both sides, but Skipper has performed better this summer and is practice squad eligible while Lang is not. The 27-year-old veteran, Lang, will continue travelling around the NFL. He’s played with the Giants, Broncos and Vikings before his latest pit-stop in New England.
Injured Left Tackles
The only injured player is Yodny Cajuste. Cajuste hasn’t played a single rep in the summer, as he has been on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list. Cajuste was selected by the Patriots with the 101st pick in this past draft. He was expected to be a decent rotational tackle behind Wynn if he wasn’t healthy enough to go, but it seems as though Cajuste will be red-shirted for his entire rookie season.
Patriots Left Guards (1)
Joe Thuney is an extremely underrated lineman on the Patriots squad. This summer, along with the rest of the starting offensive line, Thuney has dominated. Going on his 4th season with the Patriots, he has been a starter since he was selected 78th overall in 2016. This is yet another no-brainer for me, as Thuney has been a roster lock all summer long.
Practice Squad LG (1)
Gauthier has played mainly center but was listed as a left guard on the Patriots official site. He can seemingly play anywhere on the interior of the offensive line. He’s been very impressive, not allowing a single pressure in 76 preseason pass-rush snaps, but it has gone mainly under-the-radar. Thanks to his good play going mainly unnoticed, the Patriots could sneak him in on the practice squad.
Patriots Centers (2)
Ted Karras, James Ferentz
Karras is going to be the projected starter for sure with Andrews going through his medical condition. I talked about it in a recent article, which you can read here. James Ferentz, on the other hand, is an experienced center. He’s versatile like Karras, who can play all interior line positions. Having guys like Karras and Ferentz on your squad help greatly, especially when there’s an injury to a starter. Ferentz will be an important piece of the offensive line, although he may not be a starter necessarily.
Again, keep in mind that Gauthier also plays center and is on my practice squad. He can also be a fairly valuable piece for the Patriots.
David Andrews was hospitalized on Monday, August 26th with a blood clot in his lungs. He has been the Patriots starting center and top offensive lineman since 2015. He was released from the hospital earlier today but is still likely to miss a lot of time. If he is placed on injured reserve prior to the cut-down day (Thursday), then he will miss the entirety of next season. However, if they wait to place him on IR after Thursday, that makes him eligible for return on week 8 of the season. I wrote more about his situation here.
Patriots Right Guards (2)
Shaq Mason, Hjalte Froholdt
Shaq Mason is an incredible offensive guard. He is arguably a top guard in the league, nevermind on the team. There’s absolutely zero doubt that Mason will make the roster. He has been around the Patriots since 2015. He’s still very young as well, at just 25-years-old (26 tomorrow, Wednesday, August 28th).
Hjalte Froholdt is a Danish football player who was drafted in the fourth round, 118th overall, in the most recent draft. The fact that he was drafted fairly early in the most recent draft gives him enough value to be considered a roster lock. He hasn’t had a very great summer, however. He’s taken four penalties in three preseason games and has allowed plenty of pressure to get to his quarterback. Dante Scarrnechia even came out and commented on the lack of discipline from Froholdt. He also touched on the fact that Froholdt has a ways to go to become a consistent contributor for New England.
Again, Karras and Ferentz can swing over to right guard if needed to provide extra depth.
Patriots Right Tackle (1)
Marcus Cannon is a veteran tackle who has been with the Patriots for years. He joined the Patriots in 2011 as a 23-year-old lineman. He only began to contribute consistently in 2015. Since that time, Cannon has missed 13 of a possible 48 games. Durability can be a bit of a concern, which is why Skipper and St. Louis are on the practice squad as emergency tackles.
Patriots Defensive Linemen
Patriots Defensive Tackles (4)
Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart
Lawrence Guy is an excellent defensive lineman for the Patriots. Joining the Patriots in 2017, following his time with the Colts, Chargers and Ravens, Guy has bolted up the Patriots depth chart. He has started all but two games as a defensive end and tackle. His versatility helps, though he will likely rotate in and out with Adam Butler.
Butler is a really good run-stopping tackle and will rotate with Guy when it is an obvious rushing down. He is, arguably, the best non-nose tackle at stopping the run. He is yet another lock for the Patriots, at least, in my opinion.
Danny Shelton and Byron Cowart
Danny Shelton is an interesting one, but ultimately a lock at this point. He did not play in 3 games last season, despite being healthy. He only started one game all last season as well. The Patriots still decided to bring him back on a cheaper deal, almost a prove-it deal. They brought in Mike Pennel and Pennel was expected to be the number one nose tackle, ahead of Shelton. But Shelton quickly rose up the depth chart and started getting some attention from coaches. Soon enough, he was practising as the number one nose tackle ahead of Pennel. He started preseason games as well when they came around. Pennel’s release proved immediately that Shelton had won his positional battle and is now officially a roster lock.
Byron Cowart is a bit like Butler and Guy in a lot of ways. He isn’t quite at the level that he needs to be to start in the NFL, but he has been impressive enough to garner a roster spot on the Patriots.
Practice Squad DTs?
Ufomba Kamalu is an interesting athlete. He has the size (6’6, 295Ibs) to play as a defensive tackle (which is where he is listed on the Patriots official site). He also has the athletic abilities to play on the defensive end with guys like Michael Bennett. But despite his athletic and physical abilities, Kamalu has failed to flash enough. But a guy with that frame and athletic ability isn’t one you pass upon. He is still eligible for the practice squad and because of his lack of impressive film, he likely could make it through waivers.
Who Gets Cut?
David Parry is the one I have getting released. However, this could be a risky choice as he is the only true nose tackle outside of Shelton. Parry is a 26-year-old defensive tackle that has played for the Colts, Saints and Vikings. With the Colts, he played in and started all 32 games in his two seasons there, racking up 4 sacks and 78 tackles. Since that time, he has played a combined 4 games, with no starts, over the last two seasons. He dealt with legal problems which led to the downfall of his Colts tenure. He has yet to find a role elsewhere.
Patriots Defensive Ends (4)
Michael Bennett, Chase Winovich, Deatrich Wise, John Simon
Bennett is an obvious lock. Brought in via trade for a relatively cheap cost, Bennett was looked at as support to handle the loss of Trey Flowers. He has been a beast this offseason as well, which further cements his locked status.
Chase Winovich, to me, is more of an outside linebacker with incredible pass-rush capabilities. However, the Patriots official site listed him as a defensive end so, I’ll work off of that. Winovich was unbelievably impressive in the preseason and looked good in camp. Winovich would be a lock even if he didn’t perform at a high level, due solely to the fact that he was a third-round pick in the last draft. He has an incredible motor and is very good at beating his man off the line. Winovich can power through blocks and speed around the outside. He’s a very good player and could have a big role in this defense as we near the end of the season.
Deatrich Wise is a hit or miss to me. Wise has started 8 of a total 32 games played in his two seasons with the Patriots. He has recorded a combined 9.5 sacks in those games, along with 56 tackles. He was supposed to get added responsibilities this season with the departure f Trey Flowers, but the additions of Winovich, Bennett, John Simon, Jamie Collins and Shilique Calhoun negate that. However, he knows the system and, despite all the added competition, he has the most experience in the system. If the Patriots decide to continue without him, it won’t be him getting cut. He is a top trade candidate and could reel in a decent safety, what with the Chung situation, or a receiver if the Patriots decide to add more there.
John Simon was added mid-way through last season and provided decent pass-rush depth as a rotational player. The Patriots gave him a new contract for this season and he’s likely going to retain that depth role. He is a solid defensive end to have and could wreak havoc with Winovich, Wise and Bennett alongside him.
Injured Defensive End
Derek Rivers has not practised since going down with an injury in preseason week 2. Initial thoughts are the injury is bad and could cause him to miss time. I have him starting the year on IR and thus not counting against the roster.
Keionta Davis is another defensive end that is out with injury. However, in his case, he was waived with an injury designation, went unclaimed, then placed on IR. He is eligible for return on week 8 with an injury settlement.
Practice Squad DEs
Harris went undrafted in last years draft and signed with the Patriots. He was on the practice squad all of last season. He was a very productive college player but is undersized but NFL standards. Harris has quite the skill-set but unfortunately has not been able to translate it to the NFL. He’s still someone worth keeping around, however, with the practice squad being the perfect place to stash him away.
The Patriots defensive line is stocked with so much talent. Their offensive line has high-end starters as well. But something that the defensive line has that the offensive line doesn’t really have, is depth. Having two backups for the offensive line that are just decent and below rotational talent-level is not exactly ideal. Having a few struggling linemen on the practice squad is also not ideal. The Patriots could certainly look to make a deal for some better depth linemen.
After looking at the linemen, I have locked up 24 of the 53 total spots. On top of that, I have now taken up 6 of the 10 total practice squad spots, along with one international pathway player. That also means that I have cut 10 total players along the way. It’s also been noted that there are 3 injured players thus far who will not start on the roster and one suspended player thus far.
In my next piece, I will be looking at the rest of the defense, as well as the special team players. What 29 players will make up the remainder of the roster among linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties, kickers, punters and long-snappers? Stay tuned for all that in my next piece!
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