Patriots' 53-man roster projection includes tough call on Aaron Dobson

Aaron Dobson has shown well in OTAs, but the competition is strong for the final roster spot at receiver. Kevin Hoffman/Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots wrapped up their offseason program on Thursday and open training camp on July 28 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Here’s a 53-man roster projection:

Quarterbacks (3): Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

If Brady has to serve a four-game suspension to open the season, he wouldn't count against the initial 53-man roster. This would mark the first time the Patriots carry three quarterbacks on the roster since 2011 with Brady, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett.

Running backs (4): Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount, James White, Brandon Bolden

Blount, who finished 2015 on injured reserve because of his hip, didn't participate in spring practices and thus his condition is a notable storyline entering training camp. Donald Brown and undrafted rookie DJ Foster could sneak onto the roster, but this is a position where I could envision a player from another team landing.

Fullback (1): James Develin

The Patriots went without a traditional fullback in 2015 after Develin broke his leg in the preseason. He brings toughness to the offense.

Wide receivers (5): Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Keshawn Martin

Aaron Dobson had an impressive spring, and if the season started today, he might be the top "X" receiver (especially given health questions with Edelman and Amendola). But this projects the future growth of Mitchell, the fourth-round pick from Georgia. Chris Harper and Devin Lucien are strong practice squad candidates.

Tight end (3): Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Clay Harbor

The only question is the third spot, where Harbor (seventh year), second-year man AJ Derby and undrafted players Steven Scheu (Vanderbilt) and Bryce Williams (East Carolina) are the candidates. Harbor's special-teams experience gives him the early edge.

Offensive line (9): Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, Bryan Stork, Jonathan Cooper, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, LaAdrian Waddle, Shaq Mason, David Andrews

Recovering interior linemen Josh Kline (shoulder) and Tre' Jackson (knee) have yet to practice, opening up the possibility they start on PUP, while 2016 sixth-round pick Ted Karras is a strong practice-squad candidate who is in the mix for a back-end roster spot.

Defensive line (10): Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Shea McClellin, Chris Long, Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom

The Patriots seem deep here, especially if McClellin fits more as an on-the-line player than linebacker in the scheme, which is where he started his work in the spring. Veteran Markus Kuhn, who received quality reps in the spring, looks to be on the bubble, while Grissom might be in that category as well.

Linebackers (4): Jamie Collins, Dont'a Hightower, Jonathan Freeny, Kamu Grugier-Hill

Sixth-round pick Elandon Roberts will fight for a back-end roster spot, as will first-year player Kevin Snyder, while veteran Ramon Humber is a tough call because he showed up as a core special-teamer in spring practices, but will that be enough to earn a roster spot?

Cornerbacks (5): Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones, Justin Coleman, Jonathan Jones

Darryl Roberts, the 2015 seventh-round pick from Marshall, is in the mix for a No. 4-5 spot with Coleman, Jones, veteran E.J. Biggers and undrafted rookies Cre'von LeBlanc and D'Angelo Bentley. The question is if he can regain the momentum from last July/August before landing on season-ending injured reserve with a wrist injury. He's practice-squad eligible, too.

Safeties (5): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Brandon King

Core special-teamer Nate Ebner, who is vying for a spot with the U.S. Olympic rugby team, could open the year on a reserve list as he transitions back to football.

Specialists (4): P Ryan Allen, PK Stephen Gostkowski, LS Joe Cardona, ST Matthew Slater

This assumes Cardona, who is on active duty with the Navy, will be cleared to play in his second NFL season.