Looking at Pats' blue & red chips

In recent years, NFL Network analyst/NFL.com writer Michael Lombardi has put together a fun-to-read list on the best players in the NFL. The former NFL front-office executive breaks down his thoughts on players into two categories -- blue chips and red chips.

The 2011 version for offensive players is now posted, along with the 2011 version for defensive players, and this is the way it breaks down for the Patriots:

Blue chips

QB Tom Brady

G Logan Mankins

DT Vince Wilfork

LB Jerod Mayo

CB Devin McCourty

HC Bill Belichick

Red chips

WR Wes Welker

Lombardi notes that tight end Rob Gronkowski just missed the cut. "With one more season like last year, he is a slam dunk to be a red chip," Lombardi writes.

Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is another candidate, although Lombardi groups both left and right tackles together. Every tackle listed plays the left side.