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Rating the Roster, Training Camp Edition (Part 2)

07.24.10 at 1:23 am ET
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Here’€™s part two of our training camp edition of ‘€œRating the Roster,’€ looking at Nos. 70 through 61. (For yesterday’€™s list of players in the No. 71 through No. 82 spots, click here.)

As we previously explained, we settled on these rankings by considering a combination of factors, including overall ability, positional versatility, expectations, contract situation and place on the depth chart. We also looked at what might be best described as intangibles ‘€” loosely defined as a mixture of clubhouse character and willingness to work. In all, it helped us determine the overall value of each player within the Patriots system.

70. Defensive lineman Adrian Grady: A fringe prospect who has bounced from the Colts to the Patriots to the Rams and back again to New England over the course of last season, the 6-foot-1, 290-pounder ended the 2009 season on the Patriots’€™ practice squad. Perhaps the most memorable incident of Grady’€™s otherwise relatively forgettable first season in New England occurred when he was given Richard Seymour‘€™s locker shortly after Seymour was traded to Oakland. (For what it’s worth, it’s not good if you’ve spent nearly a year on a team and your page on the team’s web site looks like this.)

69. Running back Chris Taylor: I touched on how the organization feels about the 6-foot, 224-pound Taylor yesterday ‘€” he’€™s an intriguing prospect in that the Patriots think so much of him they kept him around all year on injured reserve despite the fact that he suffered a shoulder injury last summer and never played a snap in the regular season. That being said, New England has a lot of running backs on the roster, and something would likely have to happen to BenJarvus Green-Ellis for Taylor to get a chance.

68. Defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick: An Alabama product, the experience the seventh-round pick gleaned from working with Belichick guy Nick Saban should also serve as a big help in the transition to professional football. He should compete for a spot as a defensive end (likely on the left side), but the 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive end has a few bigger bodies in front of him, including Ty Warren, Myron Pryor and Darryl Richard. Considering whose in front of him on the depth chart and his draft position, if he stays healthy and continues to progress, Deaderick is a likely practice squad candidate.

67. Defensive lineman Kade Weston: A seventh-rounder, watching him this spring the thing that stood out for me about the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder was the length of his arms. He’€™s not Kendrick Perkins, but he’€™s not too far off, and it brings an intriguing aspect to his game. Based on his collegiate background, he’€™s also got some good positional versatility, something the Patriots have always treasured in their backup linemen. (Just ask Mike Wright.)

66. Offensive lineman George Bussey: Bussey is in a tough spot. The Patriots took him in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, but the 6-foot-2, 306-pounder didn’€™t play a single regular-season snap all last year after he was placed on injured reserve in early September because of a knee injury. He does have the advantage of having spent a year in the system, but that lost time pretty much negates any edge he might have on any sort of rookie competition. It’€™s worth mentioning that Bussey could benefit if Logan Mankins stayed away because of a contract dispute ‘€” Nick Kaczur (who played tackle last year) was moved into Mankins’€™ spot in spring practices. If Kaczur stays at guard, it leaves one fewer tackle, increasing Bussey’€™s chances of making the team. It’€™s not much, but it’€™s something.

65. Offensive lineman Ryan Wendell: When it came to John Wise, I’€™ve often used Stephen Neal as a ‘€œbest possible scenario’€ for the rookie’€™s development. The same can be said for Wendell. Like Neal, he’€™s an interior lineman who has bounced around a bit early in his career, but has managed to stick around New England despite being released by the Patriots on multiple occasions. Like Neal, he’€™s clearly highly thought of by the organization ‘€” he spent the bulk of the 2009 season on the practice squad, but the franchise still paid him like an active player. (ESPN reported late last year that instead of the usual practice-squad minimum contract, the Patriots thought enough of him to pay him like someone on the active roster ‘€” a pay boost of roughly $150,000 to approximately $300,000.) And, if Mankins stays away, he fulfills the requirement of keeping at least two Fresno State guys (Wendell and James Sanders) on the Patriots roster.

64. Defensive lineman Darryl Richard: A guy who came in with an excellent pedigree ‘€” just ask anyone at Georgia Tech, who thought so highly of him he was asked to sit on the Presidential Search Committee when he was a student. On the surface, it might not look like it, but the Patriots remain high on the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Richard. He was taken in the seventh round of the 2009 draft and spent the year on the practice squad, but like Wendell, New England didn’€™t pay him like a practice squadder but as an active player. Needless to say, Richard is a guy who I am very interested in watching perform this summer.

63. Linebacker/fullback Thomas Williams: Williams spent most of the regular season on the practice squad, but was activated before the playoff game to the Ravens. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Williams, an inside linebacker, does have some positional versatility ‘€” he’€™s seen some time at fullback, and considering the fact that New England doesn’€™t have a full-time fullback currently on the roster, even his occasional presence there would improve his chances of making the final roster.

62. Linebacker Eric Alexander: A special teamer who has managed to stick around for seven seasons in New England, Alexander is a testament to persistence. Signed as a rookie free agent out of LSU in 2004, he’€™s either been waived or released three times by always managed to find his way back.

61. Outside linebacker Marques Murrell: An intriguing signing on a couple of levels ‘€” a former Jet, his brother (running back Adrian Murrell) played in the league for many years ‘€” his special teams skills are his strong suit: ‘€œIn the NFL, you always have to look at yourself as a special teamer first,’€ he said this spring. ‘€œSpecial teams can change the game instantly as a deep bomb by [Tom] Brady or an interception by [Brandon] Meriweather and taking it to the house. I definitely look at myself as special teams first, then a defensive player.’€

Read More: 2010 training camp, Rating the Roster,
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