2014 Depth Chart: New England Patriots

A look at the depth and quality of each position on the roster for the 2014 New England Patriots.

| 3 years ago

2014 Depth Chart: New England Patriots

2014 depth update NE

[Chart last updated: 6/30/14… See update notes from 6/30/14]


•  Not many people would tell you that Devin McCourty is elite, but at PFF we believe he is. Two years ago he was a solid cornerback for the Patriots but, amassing a +42.0 grade over the past two seasons, he has emerged as one of the best safeties in the league.

•  Though defensive end Rob Ninkovich isn’t a great pass rusher, he excels against the run. In fact, last season, no 4-3 defensive end had a higher grade against the run than the former Purdue Boilermaker. That he isn’t great at getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks keeps him from being rated higher, but he’s still a handy defensive player to have around.

•  Dan Connolly had been a pretty average player for the Patriots in recent years before 2013, but his play really dropped off last year, particularly as a pass blocker. His Pass Blocking Efficiency Rating was 45th out of the 59 guards with enough qualifying snaps, and his pass blocking grade the fourth lowest, leading you to question if he can recover back to the solid player he once was.

•  Before the playoffs, linebacker Jamie Collins’ fairest rating would probably have been “Not Enough Information” but, after an impressive postseason, I feel confident enough that he is a good starter, and wouldn’t be shocked to see him go a step further during 2014. That playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts really was something to behold.

Roster Battles

1.  Backup Quarterback

Tom Brady is obviously the team’s starting quarterback heading into 2014, but the question of who backs him up remains. They drafted Ryan Mallett in the third round of the 2011 draft, but this year selected rookie Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round, bringing on board a potential quarterback of the future. There have been rumors that Mallett will be traded, though how likely that is remains cloudy, but if he’s still in New England, he’ll likely remain as Brady’s top backup in 2014.

2.  Cornerback

The Patriots’ big splash in free agency was bringing in cornerback Darrelle Revis after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That wasn’t the only signing they made, however, with Brandon Browner also arriving and likely to start opposite Revis, with Kyle Arrington the most logical player to take the slot role. Don’t forget about Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan, though, with the duo combing to play 1,335 snaps during the 2013 regular season.

3. Wide Receiver

While they lack a true No. 1 wide receiver, the Patriots have five players who are likely to compete to be Brady’s favorite targets from the wide receiver position. Danny Amendola played well in 2013, but the problem for him continued to be staying healthy and getting on the field. Julian Edelman, stepping up in place of Wes Welker went on to have the best season of his career. Then you have second-year receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, both of whom showed flashes of talent if not consistency. Finally, the team added Brandon LaFell, the Carolina Panthers’ third leading receiver in 2013. That should add up to a healthy competition throughout the offseason, with the Patriots surely hoping one of the youngsters steps up in 2014.


Click here to see all of the depth charts we’ve covered.


Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • DiegoMB

    Why is Kyle Arrington average? Feels to me like he is getting burned 110% of the time :/

    • RandomOpinion

      In Kyle’s defense, he only seems to get burned when he has to play on the outside. He is a very solid in the slot, which is where BB uses him ideally.

      • Chris from the Cape

        I would comment, but you already nailed it. I think he’s overpaid, but he’s probably a ‘dark’ orange on the outside, and light green in the slot.

    • Lord Mad

      He is actually above average for the role he plays.

  • Ollie

    Are you being serious? Have you even watched the Patriots in the last 10 years? Tavon Wilson – not an average starter. Danny Aiken – one bad snap in 3 years does not make you a below average starter. Chandler Jones – how is he not a high quality starter? Even your order of the depth chart is bonkers – Joe Vellano is our weakest DT not 2nd string. Jake Bequette – the man has not even appeared in the last two seasons, Buchanan overtook him on the depth chart. I could go on, but it is pretty obvious you have no clue about what you are talking about!

    • RandomOpinion

      While I love Chandler, he does seem to have a little trouble collapsing the pocket. Part of that could be due to not having a solid interior pass rush, especially last year. Though I do agree he, and a number of other players should probably be graded at least one step higher.

      And I’m not sure if this was changed in the last hour, but Joe Vellano is listed as third string according to the chart…

      • Gordon McGuinness

        Yep, we update the chart based on feedback/reports from OTAs

    • JoeMiller

      I couldn’t believe they didn’t have Tom Brady as “elite”. If Tom Brady isn’t an “elite” quarterback–who on earth is?? The folks at PFF have surely missed the mark here.

  • Jesse

    Nice work bud, but you misspelled Gronkowski.

    • Steve

      While we’re correcting spelling, it’s Sealver Siliga, not Silver.

  • Cool dude

    Some thoughts:

    QB: Sigh, another day, another person that says Tom Brady isn’t elite. PFF
    doesn’t really factor in “clutch” and intangibles, so whatever. We all know of
    what Brady is truly capable.

    RB: Sadly, I’m going to have to agree with the grading here. Hopefully Stevan
    can get back on track and prove all the haters wrong. I think Develin can be at
    least an average starter.

    TE: DJ Williams average? ok I guess. Also they misspelled Gronk.

    WR: I don’t understand why Dobson is below average while KT and LaFell are
    average. Inconsistent with here: https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2014/02/20/projected-lineups-new-england-patriots/

    OT: I honestly believe that one of them should be elite. Whatever.

    OG: Agree

    C: Cant really fault Wendell for 1 crappy year. We’ll see how things pan out,
    but the interior Oline is not looking so good still.

    DE: Don’t know why Will Smith is in the red. Chandler is borderline high

    DT: Sure

    LB: I think Mayo still deserves high quality. Also, Dont’a is in the middle,
    right? Do we even know if we’re running 4-3 or 3-4?

    CB: Brandon Browner too low. Also, specifically for the slot, Kyle Arrington is a good starter.

    S: Sure.

    K: I think Gost is elite.

    P: Why so much Ryan Allen hate..

    LS: One bad snap doesn’t make you below average..

    • Pygskyn

      Re: Elite. Just so you know, they put a note on the main page for these lineups about the definition of Elite. They are calling it the top 50 or so players in the league regardless of position, so a guy could be the second best in the league at his position and still not be ranked as elite. On the flip side, “High Quality” is a player that probably 25 teams in the league would slit their wrists to have. Although, I’d have to imagine that Solder probably was the topic of an argument between Elite and High Quality when they put this together.

    • Chris

      What exactly is Brady capable of? I wouldn’t even rank him in the top 5 anymore.

      • Chris from the Cape

        He’s not in the top 3, and had a worse year than Rivers, so myself and the PFF rep on WEEI put him at #5-#7.
        Since he had a weak protection, heavy injuries (not to say #87 won’t get injured all over again) and massive losses to the receiving core, I would say he’s capable of #2- #4, though not for too much longer, with father time already advancing.

      • Cool dude

        He led this offense with no-name and rookie receivers to the 3rd (almost second) highest scoring position. In addition, he led the team to the AFC Championship with little help from his receivers (drops), oline (bad), or defense (injuries). Also: see his numerous comebacks this year, New Orleans, Browns, Denver, Houston, to name a few.

        • Chris

          You blame the WRs for drops? Yet Brady ranked:

          18th in accuracy
          25th in deep ball accuracy
          28th in accuracy under pressure

          All metrics that remove drops to get a more accurate reading of how a QB threw the ball.

          He also ranked 12th in PFF QB rating, which is corrected for drops.

          How do you explain that?

          • Cool dude

            It wasn’t just drops. New WRs don’t know the playbook; that explains accuracy issues, although I will give you the deep ball: he’s never been good at it. He was only good at it with moss, who was a freak. His accuracy under pressure can be explained because he was constantly under pressure so that he has a larger selection pool, in addition to the new unaware receivers. and we all know that qb rating doesn’t mean much.

          • Robert Snell

            It’s called no rhythm from drops/WRs running the wrong routes/WRs not separating from the DB making it to where Brady has to throw ahead of WR instead at his hands or chest/plus! When the interior of ur O line is getting run over to much forcing Brady to either throw it away or out of bounce and the few times the O line did get time the WRs was getting open… It was ridiculous what he went from weapons wise from 2012 to 2013 smh

          • CJ

            Why can’t you blame the young receivers Chris. I mean look at the stats. In games 1-8 Brady threw for 1807 yards 9 Tds and 6 ints. In games 9-16 he threw for 2538 yards 16 Tds and 5 ints. You see his stats improved as the rookies improved and the team got healthy.

          • Chris

            All the stats I listed were related to accuracy, which is a QB dependant Stat. The skill of the WR doesn’t factor in how accurate a pass from the QB is.

            The fact is Brady was terribly inaccurate last year, by his lofted standards of course.

          • Gaek

            I wouldn’t say accuracy is purely a “QB dependant [sic] Stat.” For instance, a young WR being late to make a cut would have an impact on accuracy. And generally speaking, not being on the same page with the QB leads to many errant throws–and often only those who are privy to the play called can be sure whose fault it is.

          • DS211

            Wrong. The stat doesn’t know where the receiver is supposed to be. These are all timing routes. Explain how the misses only go to the new receivers and not when he was throwing to Gronk and Edelman (just as many catches as Wes in previous years)? Accuracy stats are miss leading, always have been. I love how people use stats to judge this and that, yet have no idea what play was called, what the coverage was and who had what responsibility??? The eye test tells me that Brady did a incredible job for a guy that was behind a horrible O-line (most sacks of his career, another stat that is miss leading. Does the QB hold the ball too long, does the line suck or is the defense flat out better) that had horrible production from his receivers and had a rotating cast to work with.

        • Robert Snell

          Brady had 5 comebacks and It could have easily been 7 or 8 and u ask what is Brady capable of Ok here go’s!…. Going into the 2013 season lost 5 weapons to free agency in Welker/Hernandez/Branch/Lloyd/ Woodhead and for the first 6 games no Gonk and only had him for 6 games after before he went down so from week 1 to week 6 he lost 6 weapons but wait I’m not done! In the first game of the season Brady lost another weapon to a broken wrist in Vereen didn’t get him back till week 11 so that makes 7 weapons lost from weeks 2 through to week 6 when Gronk came and just think the week Vereen came back Gronk went out the next and there was missing games from Dobson/Thomkins/an Boyce throughout the season serveral by all three and they lost one of their best Olineman in Vollmer for the season early in the year! Now remember that’s just offense now! Let’s look at the D Wilfork went down against the Falcons in I believe week 3 Tommy Kelly went down against the Bengals in week 6 and Mayo went down against the Saints in week 5 that’s not including the lose of Adrian Wilson to injury before the season started an Spikes played through the back half of the season injured went on IR after week 17 right before the playoffs an Talib too! In the Saints game got injured in was out for 3 weeks plus! R 2nd best corner in Dennard was out for 2 or 3 weeks last year this D went into the playoffs starting “5” rookies on defense an in the 1st Quarter of the Bronco game Talib went down in that’s when the passing game became wide open for Peyton… So tell how’s he not just flat out remarkable for Brady to over come all that in make something out of the season! Tell me another QB who face that much adversity and did what Brady! Just remember at the end of the season the Pats put up the 3th most points almost made it the 2n most

  • twnick2014

    Rob Ninkovich had a pass-rushing productivity (PRP) of 10.1 last season, which was 12th best among 4-3 defensive ends. He’s not a great pass-rusher, but he’s definitely a good pass-rusher. Thus, Ninkovich should be listed as “High Quality.”

    Also, Browner should be listed as a “good starter,” not an “average starter.”

    • Gordon McGuinness

      While PRP is a great indication of how productive a pass rusher was in generating pressure, it doesn’t account for things like when a pressure came unblocked, as clean up, or in pursuit. The best indication of a pass rushers ability is always our pass rush grading.

      With Browner, I don’t think he’s been above average since the midway point of the 2012 season. Will he get back to his best in New England? It’s definitely possible, but based on the last season and a half I think average is fair.


        Ninkovich was rated perfectly

    • Gaek

      If Ninkovich is “High Quality,” then he must be playing in some fictional, Lake Wobegon League where all players are “above average.”

  • Tanner

    Question for Gordon. Where will the recent signing of James Anderson fall?

    • Gordon McGuinness

      Updated to include Anderson this morning.

  • Jordan MacGeever

    on what planet is Devin McCourty elite and Brent Grimes not Elite? PFF having a hightmare

    • that guy

      they are different positions ya dingus

  • Jordan MacGeever

    if you take away McCourty’s one ridiculous game against a horrid passing offense in the Jets. McCourty was not elite. Grimes was the better player for 10 of the 16 games that tells you something. DM was also average from week 11 through week 17

    • Gordon McGuinness

      While they both play in the secondary, Grimes and McCourty play different positions, so it’s not fair to compare the two. I’ve gone into detail on twitter with you about why I feel Grimes is in that bracket just below the elite cornerbacks, so I’ll stick to McCourty here.

      He was targetted 8 times between Week 12 and the AFCCG, which gives an indication of how opposing quarterbacks viewed him, but while it’s true that his grade wasn’t as impressive late in the year, he was still picking up small positve grades with just two negatively graded games in coverage all year.

      I believe, when you take into account his play since moving to safety during the 2012 season, he has developed to the point where he is now an elite safety.

      • Jordan MacGeever

        fair enough. I think McCourty needs one more year to be looked upon as a truly elite S of such there aren’t many of them

      • thenextone82

        If you want to see what an elite safety looks like, pop in some tape of Ed Reed.

        • Guest

          That’s an all time great, one in a generation or two. Suggesting that you have to be Ed Reed quality to be a top tier or elite safety is hilarious.

    • Chris from the Cape

      You’re again giving Grimes credit for one good (10′) and one very good year sandwiched by two in which he had trouble seeing the field. Grimes after all wasn’t even PFF top 100 going into last season.
      As far as a PFF grade on McCourty, he is very consistent and very versatile, playing literally every position in the secondary good enough to put his team in a position to win, something Cin’s Whitworth was exceptionally lauded.
      Granted McCourty didn’t impress matched up as a CB vs the more physical WR-X’s, and I don’t have those week to week numbers, but as a very sure tackler, he even allowed the Pats to put two FS’s in their nickel packages, helping stitch together a secondary that would see Talib consistently on and off the field.

      • thenextone82

        By that logic, Gronkowski shouldn’t be graded as elite. Grimes had one serious injury and recovered from it. Gronkowski misses significant time every season.

        • Cool dude

          the thing is, gronk makes a significant impact every time he plays. Look at last season; for the short time Gronk was playing, it made all the difference to the offense. Gronk is the best TE in the league; you can’t say that Grimes is the best corner.

        • Chris from the Cape

          Gronkowski played like a hall of famer from the first game he ever suited up.

          Grimes played well too, but for the Hamburg Sea Devils.
          Besides his fine season this past year, he was productive in 09, good in 10, but alas only showed elite talent in
          ONE of the EIGHT seasons in his career.

  • Hola Backgrinder

    A couple of surprises here. Brady caught me off guard, but on second thought, he had so little talent available in his receiving corps shouldn’t he be struggling just a bit? So I can get that. Brees and Manning have seen their efficiency drop when breaking in new guys and using backups too. I assumed (based on name brand association) that Logan Mankins would have been rated a slot higher, so that caught me off guard. Gronkowski? Well, I guess there is no minimum snap count for elite here. Hard to see how you evaluate a guy who missed 10 games as an elite performer though. Elite talent? Yeah, I see that. But where is the production? You can’t make plays from the bench, and Gronkowski’s 39 receptions for 592 yards is hardly elite.

    • Chris from the Cape

      Every rating is contingent upon the player’s health. One of the reasons that Talib got his big payday was after getting taken to school all week leading up to the NO game this past year by the aforementioned player who was being held on the practice squad, he didn’t have that much trouble shadowing Graham, who looks to be a future HOF’r. Again, Graham is much more valuable given his ability to stay on the field, but anyone who saw the Pats game vs the Panthers and see Gronk blocking the Car defensive tackles can appreciate that when healthy, he’s disputably a JJ Watt type of talent on the other side of the ball.

  • Mikeal

    Forgot to bold the old guys.

  • Ego
  • thenextone82

    McCourty elite? Lol. You should occasionally watch a game instead of just doing numbers.

    • cooler than you

      maybe you should watch some film and learn what a safety does

    • jtruff


      I always find it funny when people who don’t watch film suggest that people who do watch film should watch MORE film so they have a more informed opinion.

  • CJ

    I can’t believe you guys. You really don’t have Tom Brady as elite. Yes his stats were down but he won 12 games with 3 rookie and 2 slot receivers. He also went to the AFC Championship game again. If he would have Peyton Manning targets he would have broken those records as well. I can’t believe you guys get paid to make stupid comments

    • Arthuro

      Yeah, it’s so unfair, you do it for free, why are they getting paid ?

      • CJ

        What is unfair is that you are a coward Arthuro and FYI I have more sports knowledge than you will ever have dude. The guy has one down year and everyone says he isn’t elite. What a bunch of idiots. Brady was, and still is elite period

  • Rick S.

    I think Brady is still elite considering his production with the talent his coach/GM has left him… BTW, i am the furthest thing from a Pats/Brady fan.

    Everyone else is where they are supposed to be except McCourty is too high. How can Chris Harris and Brent Grimes be High Quality while McCourty is elite?

    Most teams have guys that could be argued as being elite… Cardinals: Peterson, Washington (b4 susp). Broncos: Clady, D Thomas, Vasquez & Harris. Miami: Grimes, etc)…

  • Jarodcore

    As soon as I saw Brady shafted on “Elite” (again) and Jake Bequette as 2nd string over Buchanan, I laughed and stopped reading.


      They must have updated this because Brady is listed as High Quality now.

  • Brett Vaccaro

    Question for Gordon. What has Will Smith done to deserve being seen as a “poor starter”? The guy is AT LEAST average as a 4-3 DE. I’m looking at the stats, and I just can’t figure it out. The Saints were going to play him way out of position at 3-4 OLB. His season ending injury was a blessing for the Saints, because he didn’t fit the Rob Ryan system. Are you perhaps taking his injury and age into account and expecting a decline?

  • CJ

    LMAO! Chris really just said that Brady isn’t top 5 anymore after one down season due to 3 rookie and 2 slot WR.

  • Zach

    The fact that you labeled Jaime Collins the same as Kiko Alonzo is a joke.


    Brandon Lafell is not below average… Yet you consider Edelman good… smh…

  • Johnny Vicars

    It would seem to be an elite Qb you have to have an elite cast around you, so they need to change the title of their story, because these are not individual positions. There is no QB in the NFL that could have taken what Brady had around him last year to 5th in offense and the afc title game…none. You put floppy wobble ball manning in that offense he throws 20 picks. Its sad that fantasy football has ruined so called experts.