Patriots 53-man roster projection, version 6.0: Bold, surprising moves in final prediction of summer

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The final preseason game is in the books and in less than 48 hours the Patriots need to submit an official 53-man roster to the league, thus cutting multiple players.

A lot has changed in the last week with injuries and trades, which has shaken things up quite a bit. It is worth noting too, the roster come game day against the Steelers will likely look a lot different than it does Saturday at 4 p.m.

Here’s WEEI.com’s Patriots reporters Andy Hart and Ryan Hannable’s final roster projections.

Click here to see the previous version.

QUARTERBACK (2): Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham (AH)QUARTERBACK (2): Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham (RH)

Is Brian Hoyer good enough to stick around? Probably. But is the Patriots roster too talented, too deep to use three spots on the quarterback position? No doubt. Stidham has looked more than good enough to take over the backup job. And Brady never misses time to injury anyway. (AH)

A tough call to cut Brian Hoyer, but with how talented the Patriots roster is as a whole, it doesn’t make sense to keep three quarterbacks when there are so many young, talented defensive players. Stidham has done what he needed to do to be Brady’s lone backup. (RH)

RUNNING BACK (6): Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, James Develin (AH)RUNNING BACK (6): Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, James Develin (RH)

This has probably been the most stable position all summer and easiest to project. Given all that goes into it, it’s almost impossible to fathom anything other than these six guys being on the 53-man roster. It’s also arguably the deepest, most talented running back group New England has ever had. (AH)

This position has been set really since the start of training camp. It’s one of the deepest on the roster and has a good mix of veterans and younger players. Nick Brossette could potentially be claimed by another team, but even if he is it’s not a big deal since with six running backs (including Develin) on the active roster, it would be tough to carry one on the practice squad. (RH)

TIGHT END (2): Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo (AH)TIGHT END (2): Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo (RH)

Sticking with the status quo here, but not feeling overly confident about it. It wouldn’t stun me to see a late addition to the roster at tight end. For now, though, we’ll go with the veteran LaCosse even though he’s missed time to injury and the youngster Izzo. Written in pencil, not Sharpie. (AH)

We could see anything happening at this spot, including the team only keeping one player at this position. No matter what happens, things will change when Benjamin Watson comes back from his four-game suspension and there’s also Lance Kendricks serving a one-game suspension. Overall, this position has been a disappointment this summer and a move at this spot over the weekend would not come as a surprise with both these players not being locks to be on the roster come the Week 1 game.

WIDE RECEIVER (7): Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers, Matthew Slater (AH)WIDE RECEIVER (7): Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Gunner Olszewski, Matthew Slater (RH)

All the old guys joined the mix to close out the preseason and joined the roster. That adds potential to the group, but certainly plenty of questions remain. If everything works out for the positive, there is a nice mix of talent, experience, youth and potential. If things don’t go well, then there will be lots of questions without answers. Meyers playing late in the final preseason game is interesting. Gunner Olszewski saw action in all three phases to end the summer. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Olszewski steal Meyers’ spot based on the return game. (AH)

In a bit of a surprise, we have Olszewski making the team over Jakobi Meyers. The thought process is it’s the No. 4/5 receiver spot and typically that spot on the roster has some special teams value. Meyers really doesn’t have any where as Olszewski can play all over the field, including return kicks and punts. The team would ideally slip Meyers through waivers and onto the practice squad, though. Meanwhile, Braxton Berrios just hasn’t done enough to earn a spot.  (RH)

OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, Ted Karras, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Korey Cunningham, Jermaine Eluemunor, David Andrews (AH)OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, Ted Kara, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Korey Cunningham, Jermaine Eluemunor, David Andrews (RH)

The number stays the same here but the names change up quite a bit given David Andrews’ health situation and two late trades. Andrews seemed destined for IR, but to be able to return later in the year must be on the roster to open the season. Karras jumps into the starting lineup. Eluemunor and Cunningham arrive just before cuts to become potentially the top backups on the interior and exterior, respectively. In this scenario, after Andrews lands on IR there will have to be an addition to the group. Dante Scarnecchia has his work to do early in the season to get this group to where it needs to be both in terms of the starting lineup and depth. (AH)

This position has been shook with the news of Andrews having blood clots in his lungs, Hjalte Froholdt getting injured in the preseason finale, and the two trades to acquire Cunningham and Eluemunor. Without any knowledge of the situation, we’re keeping Andrews on the initial 53-man roster so he’s eligible to return this season. The team would place him on IR following being on the initial 53 and then fill his spot with either James Ferentz or another interior lineman/center that went unclaimed on waivers. (RH)

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise, John Simon, Adam Butler, Chase Winovich, Derek Rivers, Danny Shelton, Byron Cowart (AH)DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise, John Simon, Adam Butler, Chase Winovich, Derek Rivers, Danny Shelton, Byron Cowart (RH)

Mike Pennel’s early release brought a little clarity to this position. There are still questions about Rivers’ health and maybe the last couple depth spots. I still can’t envision Wise getting cut, but his strange role this summer and playing in sub packages late in the fourth preseason game are reasons to wonder about his status. Cowart’s impressive summer earns him a spot that didn’t seem quite as likely when camp opened. This looks like a pretty deep, solid, versatile group. (AH)

Since our last roster projection, we added Derek Rivers to give the defensive end spot more depth. It’s worth noting he along with Shilique Calhoun are battling injuries, so those could impact things. Wise and Cowart played into the second half against the Giants, which is notable. This is a fairly deep position and has the potential to be very good. (RH)

LINEBACKER (5): Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts (AH)LINEBACKER (5): Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Calvin Munson (RH)

ESPN surfaced the idea that we’ve been promoting for a while that Roberts might be a guy shopped to other teams. If there are no takers, he probably has done enough to stick around. Otherwise the rest of the group seems to be set. I like the way Calvin Munson thumps, but just can’t see him sticking around other than on the practice squad. Similarly Christian Sam hasn’t done enough to earn a special teams/backup role. (AH)

There’s one less player here from our last projection, as we predict Elandon Roberts will be traded by the time Saturday afternoon comes around. There’s just so much depth at this position and Roberts, Bentley and Munson do basically the same things. Why not get a draft pick or a player in exchange for Roberts? (RH)

CORNERBACK (6): Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Duke Dawson (AH)CORNERBACK (6): Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Duke Dawson (RH)

This feels like another position where a body might be shipped out of town via trade prior to cutdowns. There is just a lot of depth here. But if that doesn’t happen these six guys get the nod, while Keion Crossen might be the last man off the roster. Dawson, in particular, hasn’t done a ton to earn a roster spot as a second-year second-round pick. But a second-round pick has never been cut in just his second camp under Belichick’s watch. There are many ways the cornerback position could play out. (AH)

Another change from our last projection as we now have Dawson on the roster and Keion Crossen not. The thought is the team hopes to slide him through waivers and bring him back on the practice squad. Cutting Dawson would be a tough thing for Bill Belichick to do considering he was a second-round pick last year, which is why we have him sticking around at least to start the season. Overall, this is a loaded position with a good blend of talent. (RH)

SAFETY (5): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks, Nate Ebner (AH)SAFETY (5): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks, Nate Ebner (RH)

Other than Chung’s indictment for felony cocaine possession, which could obviously lead to a suspension down the line, the safety position has stabilized. The season-ending injury to Brandon King opened room for Ebner to secure his spot, even with Brooks adding a nice dimension as a core special teams guy with legitimate ability to chip in on defense. (AH)

No changes here and like running back, we’re extremely confident this is how it will go. This may be the most talented position on the entire roster, considering the amount of veteran talent. Obi Melifonwu just hasn’t done enough to prove deserving of a spot. (RH)

SPECIALISTS (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona (AH)SPECIALISTS (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona (RH)

Gostkowski’s three missed field goals in the first three preseason games were far from ideal, especially given that the struggles were in part due to the holding of Bailey. The group needs to get the mechanics down on PATs and field goals, and in a hurry. That process got going in a positive direction in the preseason finale. Bailey then has to work on his situational consistency. But there is really no doubt about these three roster spots at this point. (AH)

There was never any doubt this is what it would be following Ryan Allen being released a few weeks ago. (RH)