Wideout Woes: Whiffs Won’t Scare Patriots Away From Drafting a Receiver in 2013

Quinton Patton Senior Bowl

Quinton Patton is a player that the Patriots could target in the first fifty picks of the 2013 NFL Draft. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Staff Writer: Oliver Thomas

Nine. That’s the number of wide receivers the New England Patriots have drafted since 2002.

While that number suggests head coach Bill Belichick is open to grooming young route-runners to catch passes from Tom Brady, the team’s success rate in doing so tells another story.

Of the nine wideouts selected by the Patriots over that span, it can be argued that only Deion Branch and David Givens became integral parts in the offense. They were drafted 11 years ago.

When you take away the 477 receptions Branch and Givens amassed over their tenure with the Patriots, the other seven draft picks have combined for just 285 catches—or in Wes Welker terms—two and a half seasons.

The Patriots are undergoing renovations at receiver. Welker and Brandon Lloyd are no longer on the roster, and former seventh-round quarterback Julian Edelman is unsigned. In terms of the receivers actually under contract with New England, it’s freshly inked slot receiver Danny Amendola, an AFC East foe named Donald Jones, Pro Bowl gunner Matthew Slater and three practice squad players.

Needless to say, someone not already in the fold will be brought in to make an impact. Yes, the depleted wide receiving corps suggests the Patriots will turn to a place of mixed results: the draft.

The draft has seen the Patriots invest second-round draft picks in the likes of Texas A&M’s Bethel Johnson and Florida’s Chad Jackson. It has also seen the team nab North Carolina’s Brandon Tate and Ohio’s Taylor Price in Round 3. Unfortunately, none of which were able to carve out a significant role in the passing attack. None of which remained in New England beyond three seasons, either.

New England’s checkered past of missing on receivers certainly makes the future an uncertain one. But if there was ever a time for the Patriots to grab a receiving prospect, it would be now.

Without the help of Welker, Lloyd and potentially Edelman, 36 percent of the Patriots’ total yardage from 2012 could be missing. And seeing how the biggest chips of free agency have already fallen—barring third-round compensation for tendered Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders—Radio City Music Hall is likely to be the venue for New England to re-stock the wide receiver depth.

This year’s class is loaded with mid-round options at wideout. There may not be a receiver selected in the top 10 picks, but there will be a laundry list of difference-makers chosen between Round 2 and Round 3. With the deep crop, Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio won’t have to mortgag the entire draft to find a viable receiver.

So, who exactly could the Patriots use a pick on? Here are four notable names who fit the bill.

Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech

Patton was a highly productive cog in the Bulldogs’ pass-heavy offense. During his senior year, 6’, 204-pounder posted 104 receptions for 1,394 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also pieced together eight games with a catch of more than 40 yards. Since transferring from Coffeyville Community College in 2011, Patton has shown some tremendous body control and precision route-running. He’s not a burner, but he can line up at more than just the “Z” receiver spot and should hear his name called either late in day one or early in day two

Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech

A Tennessee defect, Rogers finished his college career at Tennessee Tech. He finished strong too, racking up 78 receptions for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns. Standing in at 6’2″, 217 pounds, Rogers has the length to be potent target down the field. He ran the 3-cone drill in 6.71 seconds at the NFL combine, where he also showed outstanding leaping ability and some sure hands. Despite a questionable track record, Rogers is the type of player the Patriots may deem too good to pass up if available at pick 59 of Round 2.

Markus Wheaton, Oregon State

The Beavers’ all-time leading receiver, Wheaton played bigger than his 5’11″, 189-pound frame. Wheaton has some of the shiftiest feet in the 2013 draft, and registered a 3-cone time of 6.8 seconds in Indianapolis. Wheaton may not be the prototypical downfield target, but he does run tight routes and knows how to track the football into his grasp. He is another potential candidate to be drafted at the end of the second round.

Stedman Bailey, West Virginia

Stedman Bailey is a gritty player who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because he was on the same team as Tavon Austin, the most exciting player in college football. No, he’s not a burner and he’s not very imposing at 5’10”, 193 pounds, but Bailey will make an impact in the NFL from day one. He knows how to produce, and did just that for the Mountaineers, catching 113 balls for 1,627 yards and 25 touchdowns this past season. He’s a physical and heady receiver who should find a home in the second or third round.

Outlook

Regardless of New England’s history of missing on receivers, the need for a young field-stretcher is at an all-time high. With just five draft picks, though, the team must be diligent in finding the right one. Move over, Deion Branch and David Givens, there’s reason to believe the dry spell ends this April.

Tags: 2013 NFL Draft, Brandon Lloyd, Quinton Patton, Stedman Bailey, Wes Welker

15 Responses to “Wideout Woes: Whiffs Won’t Scare Patriots Away From Drafting a Receiver in 2013”

  1. Alex says:

    Was Austin really the most exciting player in college football? I’d have thought most people would have gone with Johnny Football.

    • J H TARBORO says:

      Alex go to youtube right now, watch the highlights and ask that question again. The other guy is a QB, just saying.

  2. Ali says:

    Hello there,

    any chance that the Patriots get Keenan Allen at the first round by trading up, which would be a tremendous add to the receiving corps considering his size and skills… or defensive genius Bill Belichik is going to pick a DB or a DL first so as to fix durably the aerial defense ?

    Excuse my English :)

    French fan

  3. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    WR Mark Harrison 6’3″ 231 ran 4.46 40 and cone drill was 6.99, 4th round or later.
    WR Davonte Christopher 6’1″ 192 ran a 4.56 40, 7th rounder
    Free agent guy is;
    WR Early Doucet

    • J H TARBORO says:

      Russell, another very good choice just watched his highlights and pictured Brady throwing him the ball to outside and over the top, he just had pro day at Rutgers, he is nursing a broken left foot, but very good choice.

      • J H TARBORO says:

        I’m talking about Mark Harrison

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        Mark Harrison LOOKS like BB type of player! I would like to draft Markus Wheaton, But BB would have to take him at #29 . Hmmm Harrison just seems to fit, and a 4th rounder. Better size, speed (for size) Cone drill, very good.
        As much as I like Wheaton, if I was BB , Harrison would be my choice, and use #1-#2 for other areas/players.

    • Vt Bill says:

      They may be good FA targets, but no one is going to draft them. Its great to be aware of the obscure palyers, but Pats need a proven commodity at WR, and they need to take a guy in rd # 1 or 2.

  4. J H TARBORO says:

    Stedman Bailey is one the best route runners in college football period.

  5. J H TARBORO says:

    Don’t sleep on the 3 receivers we retained ( kamar Aiken 6’2 216lbs, Jeremy Ebert 6’0 200lbs, and Andre Holmes 6’4″ 225lbs) they were kept for a reason. Andre Holmes is most intriguing with his size and weight, if he catches and runs routes well and can create separation, we could already have an outside receiver. Jeremy Ebert is a 4.44 40yd guy that can play slot and outside and is the same height as Amendola, and he can catch, ask Tavon Wilson who was torched twice in the same game by Ebert (see youtube). Kamar Aiken is a so called freak with his vertical jumping ability (it was mentioned that he could touch the top of a basketball backboard) let’s see what we have come training camp.

  6. Hunter says:

    I love the idea of Patton, I’m just worried that he’s a mid-2nd rounder and the Patriots might not have a shot at him if they don’t trade out their first.

    It would be great if you guys could examine rosters for potential castoffs that the Patriots might be interested in at the WR position as well (probably after the draft). For example, the Eagles have 12 WRs on their roster now, and might be in the position to part with Avant, Cooper, Salas, McNutt, or others, (especially with the new coaching staff).

    • J H TARBORO says:

      Draftek.com shows the top 400 college football players,, most who weren’t at the combine, and some who are blowing up their pro days. There will be a bunch of undrated rookies free agents in every position. A bold prediction (the Patriots find a great player or players in the undrated rookie market this year… don’t know what position ?

    • cc says:

      Salas??? Didn’t we give a pick for him previously & then dump him…?



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