(Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2013.)
NAME: Michael Buchanan
POSITION: Defensive end
2012 STATS: 12 games, 57 tackles (7 for loss), 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 5 passes defensed, 1 interception -- at Illinois
INJURY STATUS: No known injuries
CHANCE OF MAKING 53-MAN ROSTER: 30%
WHY HE SHOULD MAKE IT: As in last training camp, there is a level of uncertainty along the defensive line that could create opportunities for younger players such as Buchanan. The "Bubble Watch" series last summer gave undrafted rookie Justin Francis a 15 percent chance of making the roster, but by the end of the season he was not only on the roster, but very much in the mix. Jermaine Cunningham enters his fourth season with something still to prove, while 2012 third-round pick Jake Bequette has yet to emerge in the defense. Buchanan, who was viewed by some as a first-round pick entering his final college season, could follow a similar path as Francis this August.
WHY HE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT: While Bequette has yet to see any significant regular season game action, it's unlikely the Patriots will cut bait with him after just one season. If Francis and Cunningham perform well in the preseason, Buchanan may be caught in a numbers game. The Patriots kept six defensive ends to open last season, and Buchanan would likely be the sixth in this scenario. But as potentially the 53rd player, his roster spot would be far from guaranteed.
CLOSEST COMPETITION: DE Jake Bequette, DE Jermaine Cunningham, DE Marcus Benard