New England Patriots depth chart: Will Danny Etling stick at QB?

With free agency and the draft completed and OTAs and minicamps scheduled for the next month and a half, here’s a closer look at the depth chart for the New England Patriots:

Quarterback (3): Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling

The top question: Will LSU's Etling, who was selected with the top pick of the seventh round, earn a roster spot or be more of a practice-squad consideration?

Running back (7): James White, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, Mike Gillislee, Jeremy Hill, Brandon Bolden, Ralph Webb

Michel, who was selected in the first round (No. 31 overall), essentially fills Dion Lewis' spot and is a dual threat who some have compared to Alvin Kamara. Expect an immediate impact. White, the “passing back,” is listed as the starter based on how often the Patriots are in pass-first packages.

Fullback (1): James Develin

The reigning AFC Pro Bowl fullback, Develin brings a hard-nosed approach and also contributes on special teams.

Wide receiver (12): Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell, Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson, Braxton Berrios, Matthew Slater, Cody Hollister, Riley McCarron, Chris Lacy

Edelman, 32, is attempting to return from a torn ACL last August and all indications are that he’s progressed well. From a future planning standpoint, it is notable that Hogan, Dorsett, Britt, Matthews and Patterson all enter the final year of their contracts.

Tight end (7): Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister, Will Tye, Troy Niklas, Ryan Izzo, Shane Wimann

This is a well-stocked depth chart, and with Allen scheduled to earn a base salary of $4.5 million, the team will have to make a decision if that is too rich for a No. 2 option whose primary contributions come as a blocker.

Tackle (9): Isaiah Wynn, Marcus Cannon, Trent Brown, LaAdrian Waddle, Cole Croston, Antonio Garcia, Matt Tobin, Ulrick John, Andrew Jelks

Wynn, the team’s top draft choice (No. 23), is projected to the top spot at left tackle even though he will begin on the second or third unit, based on experience. If he needs more time, Brown and Waddle would be among the next options.

Guard (6): Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason, Ted Karras, Luke Bowanko, Croston, Jason King

The Patriots return their starting two for the third straight year, with Mason in the final year of his contract and potentially in line for a big-money free-agent deal.

Center (3): David Andrews, James Ferentz, Bowanko

Since making the club as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia in 2015, Andrews has been a scrappy, intelligent presence in the middle of the line.


Cornerback (11): Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones, Keion Crossen, Ryan Lewis, Jomal Wiltz, J.C. Jackson, A.J. Moore

The starting spot opposite Gilmore is open, with Rowe and McCourty two of the top options. Dawson, the second-round pick from Florida, projects initially to the slot.

Safety (8): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner, Brandon King, David Jones, Damarius Travis

In a rare situation, the same personnel returns for the fourth straight year. Jones and Travis spent all of last season on the practice squad and if they make a jump, it could threaten Richards’ hold on a roster spot.

Linebacker (10): Dont'a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Derek Rivers, Elandon Roberts, Marquis Flowers, Harvey Langi, Nicholas Grigsby, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Christian Sam, Trent Harris

Hightower is coming back from a torn pectoral muscle that cost him half of the 2017 season, while Rivers -- the team’s top pick in 2017 (third round, No. 83) who missed last year with a torn ACL -- projects as a nickel pass-rusher and outside-linebacker-type presence in the base defense.

Defensive line (13): Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Vincent Valentine, Adam Butler, Adrian Clayborn, Eric Lee, Geneo Grissom, Keionta Davis, John Atkins, Frank Herron

The big bodies on the interior -- led by Brown, Guy and Shelton -- should keep the Patriots stout in the middle of the line, while the pass rush needs to come from a group of ends led by Flowers (team-high 6.5 sacks last year), Wise (5 sacks as a rookie) and Clayborn (top free-agent signing).


Punter (2): Ryan Allen, Corey Bojorquez

Allen has held the role since 2013, but he’ll get some competition from New Mexico’s Bojorquez, who also is a left-footed punter.

Kicker (1): Stephen Gostkowski

In addition to his place-kicking, the Patriots place a high value on Gostkowski’s hang time and placement on kickoffs, which helps the team win the field-position game.

Long snapper (1): Joe Cardona

Since the Patriots selected Cardona in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, he hasn’t missed a game.

Kick returner (2): Cordarrelle Patterson, Cyrus Jones

One of the reasons the Patriots traded for Patterson was to add his dynamic return skills.

Punt returner (4): Julian Edelman, Cyrus Jones, Braxton Berrios, Cordarrelle Patterson

If the Patriots want to preserve Edelman, they could give Jones -- the team’s 2016 second-round pick -- a chance to re-establish himself in the team’s plans.