The New England Patriots are the only NFL team that hasn’t passed out official jersey numbers to their rookies. The tradition happens every year under Bill Belichick, and it gives us an opportunity to try and predict who will end up wearing what.
I first thought to predict their numbers when I noticed that the college number of first-round pick Mac Jones is currently available for the Patriots. However, I quickly realized that predicting the number of every Pats rookie is way harder to do than I originally thought for two reasons: 1) the 90-man roster size and trying to navigate who makes the final 53 and 2) the rule changes to the jersey numbers.
Either way, I gave it my best shot.
Note: The following numbers have been retired by the Patriots: 20 (Gino Cappelleti), 40 (Mike Haynes), 57 (Steve Nelson), 73 (John Hannah), 78 (Bruce Armstrong), 79 (Jim Lee Hunt) and 89 (Bob Dee). We should probably go ahead and include the No. 12 — maybe the No. 11.
Mac Jones, QB – No. 10
Thoughts: Jones wore the No. 10 at Alabama, and it’s not the No. 12. So it should be fair game. It’s a wild coincidence that it’s one of the only numbers available. At one time, Jimmy Garoppolo rocked that number for the Patriots.
Christian Barmore, DT – No. 56
Thoughts: Barmore wore the No. 58 during his time in Tuscaloosa, but that jersey is assigned to his former Alabama teammate, Anfernee Jennings, at the moment. The No. 56 isn’t too far off though, so we’ll go with that.
Ronnie Perkins, DE – No. 5
Thoughts: Perkins wore the No. 7 at Oklahoma, but that currently belongs to punter Jake Bailey. In high school, he wore the No. 9, but newly signed Matt Judon is now wearing it. I think he’ll want to stay in single digits, so I’ll predict him taking the No. 5 after (if) Brian Hoyer gets released.
Rhamondre Stevenson, RB – No. 29
Thoughts: At this time, longtime NFL defensive back Justin Bethel is wearing the No. 29 for the Pats. If he doesn’t make the 53-man roster, Stevenson can swoop in and snag his old college number.
Cameron McGrone, LB – No. 44
Thoughts: It’s unlikely that McGrone sticks with this number as long as tight end Dalton Keene sticks around for a second season. But we’ll double them up for now because there isn’t much available, and it’s what McGrone wore in college and high school.
Joshua Bledsoe, S – No. 35
Thoughts: There’s no way Joshua Bledsoe is getting his college number — at least not right now. At Missouri, he wore the No. 18, but that currently belongs to special teams ace Matthew Slater. At 35 years old, maybe Slater’s time with the team could be nearing an end.
William Sherman, OT – No. 70
Thoughts: The No. 73, 78 and 79 are all retired for New England. That doesn’t leave a lot of options in the 70s, but No. 70 is still available. We’ll go with that, considering Sherman wore No. 78 at Colorado and the options in the 60s aren’t much better.
Tre Nixon, WR – No. 19
Thoughts: Nixon wore the No. 16 at UCF, but that currently belongs to Jakobi Meyers. If Jones gets No. 10, then the only two other numbers not assigned to a player will be No. 11 and 12, which we all know won’t be assigned. I’m throwing a dart at a double up.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.