Patriots 53-man roster projection, version 4.0: Who makes team, who is surprise cut?

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Saturday is the deadline for the Patriots and all other NFL teams to get down to 53 players.

Getting to that point will be harder than most years with no preseason games and joint practices to go on. This seems to be a disadvantage for younger players, especially undrafted rookies.

Will the Patriots’ streak of 16 years of an undrafted rookie making the roster come to an end? It’s possible, but in our projection we believe it will continue.

Here is our final projection of the summer (click here to see our last version).

QUARTERBACK (3): Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer

No real surprises here as it’s seemed since the beginning of training camp the Patriots would carry three quarterbacks. There’s also no doubt at this point that Newton will be the Week 1 starter.

RUNNING BACK (6): Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Damien Harris, Lamar Miller, Jakob Johnson

Miller was activated off PUP this week in a bit of a surprise, which is why we now have him on our roster. It doesn’t seem like he would be released just a few weeks after he was signed. This means undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor really doesn’t have much of a shot at the 53, but is a perfect practice squad candidate.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski, Devin Ross, Matthew Slater

While some may have viewed Mohamed Sanu’s release on Wednesday as a surprise, we didn’t at all. The veteran did not make many plays this summer and would have been the No. 3 or 4 receiver. Bill Belichick is not in the business of paying a No. 3/4 wide receiver with no special teams value $6.5 million. Jakobi Meyers is a notable omission, but he hasn’t been on the field much and when he has, he’s been in a red, non-contact jersey. This feels like a position that could be added to from outside the organization, as right now it isn’t very strong, especially at the backend.

TIGHT END (3): Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Ryan Izzo

This is another position that could be added to from outside the organization. Jake Burt has the potential to make the team, but going with three rookies would be tough.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Korey Cunningham, Jermaine Eluemunor, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt, Michael Onwenu

The starters are pretty much set with Eluemunor looking like the replacement for Marcus Cannon at right tackle. It likely will come down to Onwenu, Cunningham and Justin Herron for the final two spots and we’re going with Cunningham and Onwenu. Herron has been solid this summer, but the team cannot have two rookies as the backup tackles.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6): Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart, John Simon, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise

Beau Allen is not included here as we’re projecting him to injured reserve as it is hard to see the team carrying him on the roster when he hasn’t even practiced yet. Cowart will likely see a lot more playing time than anyone expected.

LINEBACKER (7): Ja’Whaun Bentley, Chase Winovich, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Cassh Maluia, Scoota Harris, Shilique Calhoun

This position is certainly one of the more inexperienced on the roster with all the players departing this offseason as well as Dont’a Hightower opting out. We have Harris making the team as an undrafted rookie to extend the Patriots’ streak. Maluia, also a rookie, has had a good camp and proved he’s deserving of a spot. Brandon Copeland is a surprise cut as we see the team going with younger players with more speed.

CORNERBACK (6): Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Justin Bethel

No changes here, although it is worth noting Williams could end up by playing safety.

SAFETY (4): Devin McCourty, Terrence Brooks, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips

Cody Davis is our surprise cut as Brooks, Phillips and him are all very similar players when it comes to being core special teamers and it may not be wise to keep all of them. Even though Phillips hasn’t been on the field much this summer, he got $3 million guaranteed. Brooks has came on strong the last few weeks to show he’s deserving of a spot.

SPECIALISTS (3): Joe Cardona, Jake Bailey, Nick Folk

Folk has earned the job over rookie Justin Rohrwasser and now it’s worth wondering if he will clear waivers to make it back on to the practice squad.