FOXBOROUGH, MA – JUNE 07: New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung (23),New England Patriots corner back Stephon Gilmore (24), New England Patriots defensive back Nate Ebner (43) and New England Patriots punter Ryan Allen (6) walk to practice during New England Patriots minicamp on June 7, 2017, at the Patriots Practice Facility in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The New England Patriots mandatory minicamps are officially in the books. With the team beginning their quest for a seventh championship, let’s take a look at who has the best chance to make it on the Opening Day roster in the latest Patriots roster projection.

Patriots Roster Projection 1.0

New England Patriots Roster Projection 2.0

Quarterback (3)

In: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham

Out: Danny Etling

Tom Brady looks as good as ever, but the battle for the backup job could get interesting. As of this posting, Jarrett Stidham hasn’t shown enough to usurp Brian Hoyer for the second spot on the depth chart. New England should have no problem carrying all three quarterbacks, but they’ll move on from Hoyer if they feel Stidham is ready for the job. Barring absolute calamity, it’s hard to imagine Danny Etling making his way onto the roster.

Running Back (6)

In: Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, Rex Burkhead, James Develin

Out: Nick Brosette, Jakob Johnson

No change here from the last time. Despite his absence, Sony Michel is still locked in for the top running back spot, and James White is still the primary receiving back. Damien Harris is a good backup while Brandon Bolden is a special teams ace who can fill in on offense in a pinch. Rex Burkhead doesn’t have an easy path to playing time, but they’d only save $1 million in cap space by releasing him. Given Michel’s injury history and New England’s love of running back depth, Burkhead holds on to one of the final roster spots.

Wide Receiver (6)

In: N’Keal Harry, Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Matthew Slater

Exempt/PUP: Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas

Out: Dontrelle Inman, Ryan Davis, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Damoun Patterson

This position is the hardest to predict. N’Keal Harry, Julian Edelman, and Matthew Slater are locks, but everyone else is fighting for a job. Phillip Dorsett still makes the cut, and Maurice Harris and Braxton Berrios earn roster spots after impressive series of practices.

To make room, Demaryius Thomas starts the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list and Dontrelle Inman doesn’t even make the roster. As a big believer in Inman, this projection hurts. However, NESN’s Doug Kyed states that Inman isn’t doing much of anything in practice.

Ryan Davis, Gunner Olszewski, and Damoun Patterson are facing uphill battles, but Jakobi Meyers could easily earn a roster spot. The undrafted free agent might be the most talented undrafted player in camp and isn’t far behind Harris and Berrios.

Tight End (2)

In: Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo

Out: Andrew Beck, Stephen Anderson

Suspended: Ben Watson

With Ben Watson suspended and Austin Seferian-Jenkins off the team, Ryan Izzo earns a spot opposite Matt LaCosse on the opening day roster. Izzo looked good last year and reportedly could have beat out Dwayne Allen were it not for his injury. It’s hard to evaluate blocking tight ends at this point in the off-season, so we’ll give the spot to the incumbent.

Offensive Line (8)

In: Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt, Cole Croston

Out: Ted Karras, James Ferentz, Tyler Gauthier, Cedrick Lang, Brian Schwenke, Dan Skipper, Tyree St Louis

The starting unit is locked and loaded with Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Marcus Cannon. Rookie linemen Yodny Cajuste and Hjalte Froholdt take the top depth spots, leaving Cole Croston and Ted Karras fighting for the final spot. Croston earns it for now, due to New England’s relative uncertainty at the left tackle position. However, New England should consider signing a guy like Donald Penn, as Croston isn’t exactly an ideal solution at tackle.

Defensive Line (9)

In: Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Mike Pennel, Chase Winovich, Deatrich Wise, John Simon, Adam Butler, Danny Shelton, Derek Rivers

Out: Byron Cowart, Shilique Calhoun, Keionta Davis, Trent Harris, Ufomba Kamalu, David Parry, Nick Thurman

The top six or seven guys are locks, leaving Danny Shelton, Derek Rivers, Byron Cowart, and the rest fighting for two or three spots. For now, Shelton and Rivers make the cut. Shelton is a limited player, but New England’s defense was better when he was on the field. Rivers, meanwhile, still holds potential as a third-round pick and could impress in his first fully healthy preseason. Byron Cowart is one of the hardest cuts to make, but his practice squad eligibility should ensure he stays in New England.

Linebacker (5)

In: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jamie Collins, Brandon King

Out: Elandon Roberts, Terez Hall, Calvin Munson, Christian Sam

Elandon Roberts is one of the hardest cuts on this list, but there just isn’t room for a fifth linebacker who has never played more than 80 special teams snaps in a single season. Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and Ja’Whaun Bentley are locks, and Jamie Collins has reportedly been one of the stars of minicamp. The Patriots can save almost $2 million by releasing the former sixth-round pick, so he doesn’t make this projection.

Cornerback (6)

In: Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams, Jones, Dawson

Out: D’Angelo. Ross, Ken Webster, Crossen

New England has a good problem at cornerback, as there are too many talented players to keep around. Stephon Gilmore is coming off an All-Pro season while JC Jackson and Jason McCourty are both above-average starters. Joejuan Williams is a promising rookie who can develop into a Brandon Browner type of cornerback while Jonathan Jones holds down the slot. Duke Dawson should be the slot cornerback of the future and could take Jones’ spot if he can build on his strong minicamp.

The biggest surprise cut on this projection is 2018 seventh-round pick Keion Crossen. Crossen was a valuable special teams player as a rookie and saw limited action on defense. While he is certainly an NFL-caliber player, he cannot crack this stacked depth chart.

Safety (5)

In: Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Malik Gant, Nate Ebner

Out: Terrence Brooks, Obi Melifonwu, A.J. Howard

Patrick Chung is already back on the field after suffering a forearm injury in Super Bowl LIII. He’ll start opposite Devin McCourty, who is still one of the better safeties in the game. Duron Harmon will play his usual role as deep safety while Nate Ebner shores up special teams. Malik Gant earns the final spot, as the undrafted free agent probably wouldn’t make it to the practice squad if released.

Special Teams (3)

In: Jake Bailey, Stephen Gostkowski, Joe Cardona

Out: Ryan Allen

Jake Bailey put on a show in minicamp and is ahead of Ryan Allen on the depth chart. Stephen Gostkowski and Joe Cardona face no competition for their respective jobs.

Patriots Roster Projection 1.0

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