CLNS Radio welcomes Bobby Krivitsky to our writing staff.
With OTA’s recently underway and mandatory minicamp set for June 11th through the 13th, fans and media members get their initial glimpse at the 2013 Patriots.
As always, there are fierce position battles, most notably at wide receiver and in the secondary.
With that said, let’s take a look at what the 2013 Patriots might look like.
Tom Brady, Ryan Mallet (2)
The only debate is whether or not the Pats will carry a third quarterback. However, with depth needed elsewhere, it is more likely that coach Bill Belichick elects to reserve a spot on the practice squad for a third quarterback.
Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Leon Washington, Brandon Bolden (4)
One of the more intriguing training camp battles is between bulldozing back LeGarrette Blount and Bolden, the second-year back out of Ole Miss. Blount is a former 1,000 yard rusher but I give the edge to Bolden, who is better suited to be an every down back, should injuries occur.
Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Julian Edelman, Donald Jones, Mathew Slater, Mark Harrison (7)
New England is banking on health and instant production from rookies Dobson and Boyce. I for one believe that these two will make an immediate impact in Foxborough. If Edelman fails to stay healthy during training camp, he could easily be a roster casualty. Moe, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Missouri is worth keeping an eye on. He possesses a lot of similar attributes as Wes Welker and Amendola. However, the team has depth in the slot. Where they do not have this luxury is in the form of physical, vertical wide receivers with good size. Harrison is 6”3, 235 and in 2010, he led the Big East with 18.8 yards per reception. He was a projected mid-round pick until character concerns, stemming from he and DeAndre Hopkins allegedly trashing their hotel room the week of the combine and a foot injury caused him to go undrafted. Harrison has the potential to be a major coup for the Patriots.
Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui (4)
The health of Gronk and Hernandez is vital to this team’s success. In addition, a healthy Ballard gives Josh McDaniels the flexibility to pace Gronk during the season. If the team chooses to carry a fifth tight end, expect one of the receivers on the bubble to be cut and Daniel Fells to return for a second-season in New England.
Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, Will Svitek, Marcus Cannon, Markus Zusevics, Tyronne Green (9)
The O-line is a strength of this team. The key is finding the right backups. If Marcus Cannon has a bad camp, he will not be one of those backups.
Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Justin Francis, Michael Buchanan, Jake Bequette (5)
It comes down to Bequette, Jermaine Cunningham and Jason Vega. Cunningham had a productive 2012 campaign, working the interior as well as coming off the edge. However, after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, he was ineffective in the playoffs. This has likely spelled the end of his tenure in New England. Vega is a polished player but the team invested a third-round pick in Bequette just last season. That might be enough to tip the scales in his favor.
Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Armon Armstead, Marcus Fortson (4)
At the end of last season it was evident that the Patriots had to revamp the interior of the defensive line. They did just that. Armstead was a stud at USC and was a CFL all-star with the Toronto Argonauts. In 2011, Kelly had 7.5 sacks and 41 tackles. He has played in all sixteen games in all but two of his nine years in the NFL. If he and Armstead can produce from the inside it will provide the team a much-needed upgrade.
Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Don’t’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Dane Fletcher (5)
With the roster tight and such a capable linebacking core, I expect the team to carry a player such as rookie Steve Beauharnais on the practice squad.
Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Ras-I Dowling (5)
Familiarity is key. This group is almost entirely comprised of returning players and that chemistry should pay dividends on the field. As for Ryan, his ability to play in the slot brings welcomed depth.
Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson, Adrian Wilson, Steve Gregory, Duron Harmon (5)
This is the most diverse blend of talent the Pats have featured at safety in quite some time. The elder Wilson can play a similar role to Rodney Harrison, working in nickel coverage and working as a hybrid linebacker. The younger Wilson, Tavon, proved he is capable in his rookie year. He is now expected to make a big jump in year two. Harmon, a surprise selection in the third-round, isn’t afraid to stick his nose in there and will contribute to stopping the run. He is a smart player and strong communicator, who possesses a natural feel in coverage.
Steve Gostkowski, Zoltan Mesko, Danny Aiken (3)
The team brought in David Ruffer from Notre Dame to put pressure on Gostkowski and provide some competition but ultimately it is nothing more than that.