It has been a wild and exciting preseason so far for the Patriots, but it is all going to come to an end by 4 p.m. on Saturday for some of the players we have seen throughout these past four weeks.

All teams in the NFL are required to cut their team down to 53 men by 4 p.m. on August 31st. This unfortunately means the end of the road for some of the players at the bottom of the roster and a new beginning for some others.

Ultimately, we will find out for better or worse what players are going to win a Super Bowl ring this year with New England.

Here is how I project the roster to shape up by the deadline:

Quarterbacks (3)

  • Tom Brady
  • Jarrett Stidham
  • Brian Hoyer

A lot of people think Hoyer could be a surprise cut candidate, but I don’t know how valid that should be. At the very least, he is a great contributor as a practice QB/film analyst with Brady. He has a lot of experience in this league and can be a great mentor to Jarrett Stidham as well if you believe that he could be the QB of the future. In addition, QB’s go down every year. There may be a team who scrambles to trade high for Hoyer mid-season if their QB gets injured. He holds high trade value if you keep him on the roster as well as everything previously mentioned.

Running / Full Backs (5)

  • James White
  • Sony Michel
  • Damien Harris
  • Brandon Bolden
  • James Develin

This may be the biggest surprise / boldest prediction for this roster I have, and that is that Rex Burkhead won’t be included as a part of the final 53. I like him as a player but with the others in front of him I don’t see a need for him to make the team. He is the best pass-catcher behind James White but the Patriots have been rumored to pass the ball more to Sony Michel this year. Add that in to the fact that Damien Harris not only looked electric when he played but caught a ton of passes and I don’t see the value of keeping Burkhead around. Sure, he can play special teams but that’s precisely what Brandon Bolden was brought in to do for them. I can also see an RB needy team make a trade for Burkhead before he gets cut and the Patriots get compensated for him.

Wide Receivers (8)

  • Julian Edelman
  • Josh Gordon
  • Demaryius Thomas
  • Phillip Dorsett
  • N’Keal Harry
  • Jakobi Meyers
  • Gunner Olszewski
  • Matthew Slater

With Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas coming back and looking ready to go it makes this projection difficult to say the least. I don’t see a reason to keep eight receivers on any NFL roster, but with no real TE threat and players like Edelman and Thomas getting up there in age, it makes sense. Gunner Olszewski has made strides as a receiver and can add real value on special teams and returning punts this year. I love how he plays the game and I see a very Julian Edelman-esque start to his career. Meyers has obviously proven himself enough to make the roster and Harry despite being injured was drafted in the first round so they both make the team. It should be a very talented and deep receiving corps for the Patriots, which is the exact opposite of what we all thought coming into training camp.

Tight Ends (2)

  • Matt LaCosse
  • Ryan Izzo
  • Benjamin Watson (Suspended)

With Watson suspended for the first four games, the Patriots can’t roll out only one tight end, especially with LaCosse dealing with a high ankle sprain. Izzo has shown promise that he can play at an NFL level this preseason both blocking and receiving. LaCosse is probably the best TE they have outside of Watson and can be a threat in the receiving game right away. It makes the most sense to roster both of these guys to start the season and see where that takes them.

Offensive Line (8)

  • Isaiah Wynn (LT)
  • Joe Thuney (LG)
  • Ted Karras (C)
  • Shaq Mason (RG)
  • Marcus Cannon (RT)
  • Russell Bodine (C)
  • Jermaine Eluemunor (G/T)
  • Korey Cunningham (T)

With the David Andrews news, it left a lot of question marks surrounding the depth the Patriots had in their offensive line rotation. Karras will likely slide into the starting center role and the three guys they added this week (Bodine, Cunningham and Eluemunor) weren’t added to just get cut. All of those guys have shown promise early on in their careers and can serve as solid backups for the time being. Also, going through what I like to call Dante’s Inferno immediately makes you a better offensive lineman (named after OL coach Dante Scarnecchia). I am glad they shored up the backup tackle spot with Cunningham because I would not trust Dan Skipper to take meaningful NFL snaps at this stage in his career. If he can get on the practice squad this year he may have potential in the future, but I don’t want him protecting Brady’s blind side in 2019. Hjalte Froholdt, the fourth round rookie has shown a lot of promise but sustained an injury against the Giants. I don’t know the severity of the injury but I can see the Patriots keeping him with an IR designation for the season. Gives him another year to develop and understand the system.

Defensive Line (6)

  • Michael Bennett
  • Lawrence Guy
  • Danny Shelton
  • Adam Butler
  • Deatrich Wise
  • Byron Cowart

Byron Cowart was one of the bigger surprises to me when I put this roster projection together. Coming out of Maryland, I didn’t have high expectations for him but he has exceeded them all. He got some run with the starters during this preseason and looked every bit the part. He is still young and possesses immense potential and I think Belichick knows that. The other guys (aside from Bennett) were instrumental pieces in the Super Bowl run last year and should make the team. A lot of great players to rotate in situationally for the D-line this year and it has me very excited.

Edge Defenders (2)

  • John Simon
  • Chase Winovich

The Patriots don’t necessarily have positions on their defensive line as Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise and even Byron Cowart could end up playing on the edge in certain schemes, but for the sake of this article let’s just say these guys are their edge defenders. Simon was great last year after signing him mid-season and with a contract extension in the offseason I don’t see the Patriots moving on from him. Winovich has been the star of the preseason and has moved from playing with the reserves to the starters within a couple of weeks. He will be a great part of this defensive line rotation starting even this year.

Linebackers (5)

  • Kyle Van Noy
  • Dont’a Hightower
  • Jamie Collins
  • Elandon Roberts
  • Ja’Whaun Bentley

The linebacker position for the Patriots is more of a chess piece than anything else. Sometimes they have them playing down on the line of scrimmage and sometimes they drop them back. All of these guys have versatility to do both of those things and will make the roster for those reasons. Bentley showed promise as a rookie and is expected to take a leap this year. Jamie Collins obviously still has something left in the tank and will be instrumental in his second stint in New England.

Safeties (5)

  • Devin McCourty
  • Patrick Chung
  • Duron Harmon
  • Terrence Brooks
  • Nate Ebner

I didn’t really have expectations when the Patriots signed Terrence Brooks in the offseason, but he has impressed me. He showed range at free safety and brought some physicality to the game as a box safety. Add in that Patrick Chung may now be dealing with legal issues during this season and Brooks is virtually a lock to make the team. He played Chung’s role with the starters at certain points during this preseason. He can also contribute on special teams. The other guys are making this roster for obvious reasons.

Cornerbacks (6)

  • Stephon Gilmore
  • Jason McCourty
  • J.C. Jackson
  • Jonathan Jones
  • Keion Crossen
  • JoeJuan Williams

This CB room is probably the deepest in the league right now and with Duke Dawson being traded earlier it gives some clarity as to who is making the team. The top four guys are locks given their contributions to the team last year. Keion Crossen has really improved his play as a CB from where he was last year and he showed that with his performance against the Giants on Thursday. Not only that, but he may have been their best special teams guy behind Slater last year. Second round rookie JoeJuan Williams isn’t going to get cut either and has displayed some of the abilities that made him a high draft pick throughout the preseason. They even played him a little at safety against the Giants which surprisingly makes some sense. If they plan to develop him they will keep him around.

Specialists (3)

  • Stephen Gostkowski (K)
  • Jake Bailey (P)
  • Joe Cardona (LS)

Cutting Ryan Allen earlier is sad, but it will all be worth it once Jake Bailey hangs a kick up to the moon during the season. Seriously, he has a robot leg and can kick the ball across the Atlantic Ocean if he wanted to. The other two are obvious roster locks as well.

It sucks to see a lot of the players I liked most likely being cut like Braxton Berrios, Shilique Calhoun, Derek Rivers, Obi Melifonwu and Calvin Munson, but that speaks more to how deep the Patriots are than anything else. Besides TE, I really don’t see any holes in this roster right now. We should all be excited for this upcoming season and this could realistically be one of the best overall rosters the Patriots have had in recent memory.

If I had to give a realistic guess to how the season would go, I would probably say 19-0 and another Super Bowl title.

Anyways, we finally are on to the regular season and will see some real football.

Let’s Ride.