Projected 2015 starters: New England Patriots


Around The NFL predicts the Week 1 starting lineups for all 32 teams, analyzing the potential impact of each rookie class. See every breakdown here.

Patriots Projected Starters
  Offense Defense
  QB Jimmy Garappolo* DE Chandler Jones
  RB Jonas Gray* NT Malcom Brown
  WR1 Julian Edelman DE Jabaal Sheard
  WR2 Brandon LaFell OLB Jamie Collins
  WR3 Danny Amendola ILB Dont'a Hightower
  TE1 Rob Gronkowski ILB Jerod Mayo
  LT Nate Solder OLB Rob Ninkovich
  G Ryan Wendell CB1 Logan Ryan
  C Bryan Stork CB2 Malcolm Butler
  G Tre' Jackson SS Devin McCourty
  RT Sebastian Vollmer FS Patrick Chung

» Garoppolo and Gray are listed as projected Week 1 starters with asterisks because they won't be keeping their starting jobs for long. Jimmy G could earn a lot of future earnings by playing well in four starts before Tom Brady returns from suspension. He made a strong first impression as a rookie.

» Gray, meanwhile, has a chance to emerge this season after being banished to the bench late in the 2014 campaign. This is the worst running back depth chart we've seen in New England since Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan led the team in 2009. LeGarrette Blount will return in Week 2, but the Patriots will need a surprise to emerge from guys like James White, Tyler Gaffney or Travaris Cadet.

» It doesn't matter if the Patriots are listed as a 3-4 or 4-3 team. They change their formations based on matchup more than any team, although that might be tougher to pull off this year with a weaker secondary. I decided to start them out as a 3-4 just to get their best players up front on the field. Ultimately, free-agent pickup Sheard will be rushing from the outside more often. They are still thin at defensive tackle despite drafting Brown, with Alan Branch and Sealver Siliga their top options.

» With the top three cornerbacks from 2014 gone, Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler is almost certain to step into a starting job. Free-agent pickup Robert McClain is another candidate to play the slot.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast reacts to Tom Brady's four-game suspension, discusses which AFC East team benefits most, and much more. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.