FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots held a rookie minicamp that was closed to the media over the weekend, and it included some players in town on tryouts. Because of that, there could be a few changes to the team’s 90-man roster in the coming days.
But based on the present snapshot, here is a position-by-position breakdown of how things look:
The Patriots will keep three on their 53-man roster for only the third time since 2008, although Brady wouldn’t count against the roster for the first four games if he has to serve his suspension. The coaching staff has been encouraged with Garoppolo's development entering his third season.
It was a surprise that the club didn’t select a running back in the draft, which could mean good news for Brown. They’re relying on Lewis and Blount -- both of whom finished 2015 on injured reserve -- to make it through the year healthy.
Fullback: James Develin (1)
The hard-nosed lead blocker is back after missing 2015 with a broken leg. His position crosses over with the tight end spot, so his battle for a roster spot is tied to that group as well.
If there is a transaction in the days ahead, it could be at this position toward the back of the depth chart, as carrying seven seems a bit excessive if everyone is healthy.
Assuming good health, the top four of Edelman, Hogan, Amendola and Mitchell are locks, which intensifies the competition for what could be one final spot at the position. Special teams captain Matthew Slater, despite being listed as a receiver, gets his own category as a specialist.
With no draft pick or veteran free agent added in the offseason, it strengthens the chances of Cannon and possibly Waddle to stick as top backups. Vollmer and Cannon enter the final year of their contracts.
Thuney’s intelligence might make him a natural fit in the pivot after the Patriots selected him in the third round, which could push Stork to guard. Thuney is also a candidate to play guard.
Over the past four drafts, this group includes a first-round pick, a third-rounder and three fourth-rounders; plenty of youth and potential for returning o-line coach Dante Scarnecchia to work with.
There is some notable turnover after Brown and Branch, as noted by director of player personnel Nick Caserio on Sirius XN NFL Radio. Brown, last year’s top pick, quickly ascended to the top of this group while Branch and Knighton enter the last year of their contracts.
With Chandler Jones now in Arizona, Sheard is expected to bump into a starting role. Then there’s the experienced Long with three youngsters who have flashed potential vying for snaps as reserves.
With Collins and Hightower entering the final year of their contracts, this group currently has good depth, but the bigger-picture question is if the Patriots can keep both core defenders long-term. This is another position that could get trimmed if there is a transaction ahead in the coming days, as it seems a bit deep.
Jones, the team’s top 2016 draft pick (No. 60 overall, second round), could step in right away as the No. 3 option. Roberts, a 2015 seventh-round pick out of Marshall, caught the eye with solid ball skills in spring camp/training camp last year before spending the year on injured reserve after sustaining a wrist injury in the preseason opener.
This entire group returns from 2015, with the lone change the departure of special teamer/dime linebacker Tavon Wilson.
The lone question is the availability of Cardona because of his duties to the Navy, which led to the signing of Yount on April 22.