NFL

Patriots Post-Draft Roster Projection: Sorting Out a Crowded Wide Receiver Room, the Joe Milton Dilemma

The 2024 NFL Draft is now complete, and the Patriots have eight new draftees and a handful of new UDFAs heading to Foxborough for the start of next season.

Now? It’s time to figure out which ones will make the team.

Here’s a way-too-early projection of what their roster could look like come cut-down day next summer:


Quarterbacks (3): Jacoby Brissett, Drake Maye (R, 1-03), Joe Milton (R, 6-193)

Out: Nathan Rourke, Bailey Zappe

The Patriots have a completely revamped quarterback room heading into 2024 after spending not just one (No. 3 overall, Drake Maye), but two (No. 193, Joe Milton III) draft picks on signal callers this weekend.

Maye and veteran Jacoby Brissett, who the team signed this offseason to a one-year, $8 million deal this offseason, are the locks, while a camp battle for the No. 3 job between Milton and veteran Bailey Zappe could get interesting.

As of now Zappe likely has the upper hand, but a strong summer from Milton and the fact that he’s younger and will be under contract for a longer period of time could swing the competition in his favor. It was also reported that Zappe could be made available for trade.

For now? Bazooka Joe makes the roster.

Running Backs (4): Antonio Gibson, Kevin Harris, JaMycal Hasty, Rhamondre Stevenson

Out: DeShaun Fenwick (R, UDFA), Ke’Shawn Vaughn

After not drafting anyone to join the room this weekend, running back is a chalky position with main man Rhamondre Stevenson and newly-signed RB Antonio Gibson as the shoo-ins.

On top of that, Kevin Harris has shown enough over his first several seasons to warrant a spot for now, and JaMycal Hasty’s special teams upside lands him on the squad as well.

The Patriots also signed Oregon State’s DeShaun Fenwick as a UDFA after not drafting a running back this weekend. He’s a long shot to make the team.

Wide Receivers (6): Javon Baker (R, 3-110), Kendrick Bourne, DeMario Douglas, K.J. Osborn, Ja’Lynn Polk (R, 2-37), Jalen Reagor

Out: Kawaan Baker, Kayshon Boutte, T.J. Luther, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton

The Patriots drafting Ja’Lynn Polk and Javon Baker this weekend makes this an even more crowded room than it already was. Those two, of course, are making the team.

As for the rest of the veterans, Kendrick Bourne and K.J. Osborn just signed new contracts with New England this offseason, so they’re likely seen as a part of the short-term future. Same with Jalen Reagor, whose versatility as a kick returner could be coveted with new kickoff rules being implemented this season.

Unless JuJu Smith-Schuster and Tyquan Thornton — prized possessions in the old Patriots building — shine early and can prove the new brass wrong, I think their times with the Patriots are up.

Tight End (3): Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper, Jaheim Bell (R, 7-231)

Out: La’Michael Pettway, Jacob Warren (R, UDFA), Mitchell Wilcox

Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper are locks after just signing three-year and one-year deals with the team respectively this offseason. Henry is a captain, and Hooper has familiarity in Alex Van Pelt’s offense.

It could be a two-man position group for the Patriots as it has in the past, but the Patriots like Jaheim Bell. If he can make a worthy impression, he’ll be here.

Offensive Line (9): Calvin Anderson, David Andrews, Nick Leverett, Chukwuma Okorafor, Mike Onwenu, Layden Robinson (R, 3-103), Sidy Sow, Cole Strange, Caedan Wallace (R, 2-68)

Out: Calvin Anderson, Jake Andrews, Zuri Henry (R, UDFA), Michael Jordan, Vederian Lowe, Atonio Mafi, Andrew Stuber, Charles Turner (R, UDFA), Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

The Patriots drafted two offensive linemen this weekend in Caedan Wallace and Layden Robinson. Both will a) make the team and b) make the rest of the room that much more interesting.

At tackle, Calvin Anderson earns the top swing tackle position, with Chukwuma Okorafor (left) and Mike Onwenu (right) beginning the season as Drake Maye’s bookend protectors.

At guard, Cole Strange makes the team for now. He does, however, enter the offseason still recovering from injury, and the selection of Robinson could be some writing on the wall. At the very least, there could be a competition for the starting left guard position. Newly signed IOL Nick Leverett beats out last year’s draftees Jake Andrews and Atonio Mafi for the backup spot.

Oh yeah — welcome back for season No. 10, David Andrews.

Defensive Line (6): Christian Barmore, Daniel Ekuale, Davon Godchaux, Armon Watts, Keion White, Deatrich Wise Jr.

Out: Trysten Hill, William Bradley King, John Morgan III (R, UDFA), Sam Roberts, Jeremiah Pharms Jr.

With no additions to the defensive line in the draft, It’s a pretty easy position group to determine who makes it and who doesn’t.

Chalk: Barmore, Ekuale, Godchaux, White, Wise Jr., and newly signed DT Armon Watts make up the room. Get ready for a hefty extension for Barmore coming soon as well.

Linebackers (8): Ja’Whuan Bentley, Anfernee Jennings, Matthew Judon, Marte Mapu, Raekwon McMillan, Sione Takitaki, Jahlani Tavai, Josh Uche

Out: Jett Bush (R, UDFA), Christian Elliss, Jontrey Hunter (R, UDFA), Raekwon McMillan, Joe Giles-Harris

Same goes for the linebacker here. No additions to the room aside from UDFAs Jontrey Hunter and Jett Bush, who are longshots anyway.

Raekwon McMillan, who has struggled to stay healthy over the last two seasons, is always in the building and is heavily respected amongst his peers. If he doesn’t make the roster, I could see him sticking around in a coaching role.

Cornerbacks (6): Alex Austin, Christian Gonzalez, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones, Shaun Wade, Marco Wilson

Out: Isaiah Bolden, Caleb Ford-Dement (R, UDFA), Azizi Hearn, Mikey Victor (R, UDFA)

The Patriots drafted rookie Marcellas Dial out of South Carolina in the sixth round as a cornerback, but for the sake of the exercise and what I’ve read from scouting reports, I’m calling him a safety. Given New England lack of a true free roamer at that spot could result in a move like that.

As for the rest of the unit, for now I project Christian Gonzalez and Jonathan Jones on the boundary with Marcus Jones as your slot corner. Alex Austin, Shaun Wade, and Marco Wilson all showed enough last season to warrant a spot.

Safeties (4): Marcellas Dial (R, 6-180), Kyle Dugger, Jaylinn Hawkins, Jabrill Peppers

Out: Joshuah Bledsoe, Dell Pettus (R, UDFA)

Dial makes the roster as a safety here alongside freshly locked-up Kyle Dugger, Jabrill Peppers, and newly signed veteran Jaylinn Hawkins.

Josh Bledsoe makes his annual push for the final 53, but doesn’t make the cut.

Specialists (4): Bryce Baringer, Joe Cardona, Chad Ryland, Brendan Schooler

Out: None

Gone are the days of allocating nearly a third of your roster to core special teamers in New England. The Patriots keep only a kicker, a punter, a long snapper, and one true specialist in Brenden Schooler.


Remember, this is wayyyy too early to project, but it’s still an interesting exercise to see what the Patriots’ 53-man roster could look like. Surely this one will be 100% accurate.

Follow Mike on Twitter @mikekadlick for the latest up-to-date Patriots and Boston sports news!

Mike Kadlick

Mike is a Patriots reporter with experience in radio, podcasting, and writing. Follow him on Twitter @mikekadlick.

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