Checking the locks: How many open spots?

As part of this slow time on the NFL calendar, when we'll be taking a break to recharge for the 2014 season, we introduced the pre-produced "checking the locks" series in which we analyzed the players on the Patriots' roster who are "locks" to stick. Today is the final entry of the series, which recaps the "locks" to account for how many open spots are there for the taking:


Sure-fire locks (15)

QB Tom Brady

QB Jimmy Garoppolo

RB Shane Vereen

RB James White

WR Julian Edelman

WR Aaron Dobson

TE Rob Gronkowski

TE Michael Hoomanawanui

LT Nate Solder

LG Logan Mankins

RT Sebastian Vollmer

OT Marcus Cannon

C Bryan Stork

G Jon Halapio

OT Cameron Fleming

Near locks (9)

QB Ryan Mallett

RB Stevan Ridley

RB Brandon Bolden

WR Kenbrell Thompkins

WR Josh Boyce

WR Brandon LaFell

WR Danny Amendola

FB James Develin

G Josh Kline

Quick-hit thoughts: With 24 offensive players falling into the category of lock or near-lock, it highlights how there aren't too many major roster-based questions at this time. An injury can always change the picture, as can a standout performance from an undrafted player who isn't currently on the radar.


Sure-fire locks (16)

DT Vince Wilfork

DT Dominique Easley

DT Chris Jones

DE Chandler Jones

DE Rob Ninkovich

DE Zach Moore

LB Jerod Mayo

LB Dont'a Hightower

LB Jamie Collins

CB Darrelle Revis

CB Brandon Browner

CB Kyle Arrington

CB Alfonzo Dennard

CB Logan Ryan

S Devin McCourty

S Duron Harmon

Near locks (6)

DT Sealver Siliga

DT Tommy Kelly

DE Will Smith

DE Michael Buchanan

S Nate Ebner

S Jemea Thomas

Quick-hit thoughts: With 22 defenders falling into the category of "sure-fire lock" or "near lock," it is similar to the offense in the sense that most of the roster seems pretty well set. The backup linebacker spot is one area that seems to have the most possible outcomes, which brings the defensive numbers down a bit.


Sure-fire locks: K Stephen Gostkowski, P Ryan Allen, captain Matthew Slater

Quick-hit thoughts: Not much drama in this area, which is unlike 2013, when Allen successfully challenged incumbent Zoltan Mesko.

Overall, there were 49 players across the roster placed in the "sure-fire lock" or "near lock" categories, and all teams will carry a 53-man roster. If everyone's healthy, it provides a snapshot of the odds facing some of those players who are in the "trying to get in the door" category of this series.