The New England Patriots are going to look like a brand-new team this year, but also the same. The same due Tom Brady coming back once again for another season following his sixth Super Bowl victory. What makes them brand new is that Rob Gronkowski has retired, Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson have moved on, and Josh Gordon is still a huge question mark. A lot of analysts and fans are now saying the Patriots have nothing besides Julian Edelman in their receiving corps. Big time disagree, as there is plenty of talent that may make this offense even better.
The Returnees: Julian Edelman, James White, Phillip Dorsett, Rex Burkhead, Braxton Berrios
Julian Edelman is a layup here as long as he stays healthy. What really comes into question following the reigning Super Bowl MVP is who the guy Brady will be leaning on following Jules. James White is the clear response following his incredible season a year ago where he caught 87 balls for 751 yards and 7 TDs. Phillip Dorsett was re-signed in the offseason and is the leading candidate to take over the third WR spot on the depth chart due to knowing the playbook. Dorsett has shown signs of improvement the past few years when it comes to this team and has made big plays as well but could be expendable if the new guys step up.
For Rex Burkhead, he could very well be on the brink of the roster this season but who is to know for sure. The team now has five RBs rostered who all have a serious shot at making the team. Brandon Bolden was brought back to be on special teams, while James White and Sony Michel are locks to be on the Week 1 roster. For Burkhead, it is a matter of showing up rookie RB Damien Harris to the point that he makes Bill want to keep all five on the team. And finally, Braxton Berrios. Fans may be forgetting about Berrios but he has been making waves this offseason, as he has already shown up for Training Camp. He fits the Patriots mold and could be a huge factor for the Patriots when no one expects it.
The Newbies: N’Keal Harry, Demaryius Thomas, Maurice Harris, Dontrelle Inman
The only lock of the WRs to make this team other than Julian Edelman is 1st Round choice N’Keal Harry. We have gone into depth on who Harry can be, but considering he has already been working with TB12, instant success could occur for him if he is able to handle the learning of the playbook. Next up is Demaryius Thomas, who could be an incredibly great signing or just someone who doesn’t make the team at the end of the preseason. Thomas is a four-time Pro Bowler looking to prove he still has plenty left in the tank. If he can rehab from his torn Achilles and learn the playbook in the meantime, Demaryius could become a stud for the Patriots. Maurice Harris is the underdog here who showed signs with the Redskins a season ago. Dontrelle Inman could give depth for the Patriots but isn’t the favorite here.
The Question Mark: Josh Gordon
As Patriots fans, you can only be hoping for Josh Gordon to be reinstated and back on this Patriots roster. Before he went away a season ago, he showed that he was really a force that the Patriots needed on their roster. As the second or third option on the team, Flash could prove to be a beast. Just look at the recent pictures of him, the man is an animal ready to deliver if his head is right. Most importantly is his health, however. If he’s good to go, let us welcome him back with open arms.
Predicting the WR Depth Chart
With the Patriots, it was important to bring up the fact that James White and Rex Burkhead are likely to be options in the passing game, but when it comes to the depth chart, that could make or break the team. It would be fair to assume the Patriots take on five WRs to their roster and the rest are free to look somewhere else for a spot. For the sake of not knowing Josh Gordon’s situation, we will keep him out of this until any news is surfaced because he’d be a layup to make the roster if he could play. Here’s the predicted depth chart:
- Julian Edelman
- N’Keal Harry
- Phillip Dorsett
- Braxton Berrios
- Demaryius Thomas
Verdict: This team will be just fine. Berrios shows tons of promise for this team while Demaryius Thomas is worthy of a spot on the roster because of his size and ability when healthy.
What do you think the depth chart will look like come Week 1? Feel free to leave your thoughts below.