(Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2013.)
NAME: Ryan Allen
2012 STATS: 45 punts, 2,162 yards (48.0-yard average) -- at Louisiana Tech
INJURY STATUS: No known injuries
CHANCE OF MAKING 53-MAN ROSTER: 15%
WHY HE SHOULD MAKE IT: For the first time in his four NFL seasons, veteran Zoltan Mesko has competition for his job. Allen boasts an impressive resume that includes the 2011 and 2012 Ray Guy Awards as the best punter in college football. While Mesko has been generally solid thus far in his career, the Patriots haven't shied away from swapping out punters, cycling through Ken Walter, Josh Miller, Todd Sauerbrun, Chris Hanson and Mesko over the past decade. Allen could potentially be a younger and cheaper option as Mesko enters the final year of his rookie contract.
WHY HE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT: Success in college doesn't always translate into success in the NFL. Of the Ray Guy Award winners since 2004, only two -- Drew Butler (2009) and Chas Henry (2010) -- are still in the league. Unless Mesko struggles considerably this preseason, it is improbable that Allen will be able to beat him out. The more likely scenario is Allen being groomed on the practice squad as insurance against Mesko leaving through free agency next offseason. There is precedent for the Patriots having punters on the practice squad: They had Danny Baugher and Tom Malone on it in 2006, and Malone again in 2008.
CLOSEST COMPETITION: P Zoltan Mesko