Other than Julian Edelman, out of the wide receivers that are under contract with the New England Patriots for 2013, not one of them caught a pass from Tom Brady last season.
In just a matter of a month or so, the Patriots have completely restructured their wide receiver corps. We have seen Wes Welker sign with the Denver Broncos, Brandon Lloyd released while the team has welcomed Danny Amendola, Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins. Not to mention that the team could very well be welcoming Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders to the team as well—as we sit hours away from learning whether or not the Steelers will match Nwe England’s offer sheet on Sanders.
Whether or not that the Steelers decide to match New England’s offer or let Sanders walk, I still do believe that there’s a legitimate shot that the team could draft a wide receiver in the first round. In that spirit, let’s take a look at three possible wide receivers that will be available at No. 29 overall.
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
In my most recent mock draft, I have DeAndre Hopkins slotted in at No. 29 overall going to the Patriots.
Granted, this would be a dream scenario for me, as I have been pumping Hopkins’ tires for the past couple of weeks, but he certainly could be a legitimate target for New England.
Standing in at 6’2″ and weighing 205 pounds, Hopkins not only has the required size to be a productive X wide receiver in the NFL, but he has all the tools and potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler.
Hopkins will develop as a possession receiver in the NFL and certainly could end up being a quarterback’s go-to-receiver or simply the quarterback’s “security blanket.”
Out of all the wide receivers that are likely to be available at No. 29, DeAndre Hopkins would be my ideal selection.
Keenan Allen, California
Much like DeAndre Hopkins, I foresee Keenan Allen developing into a big-time wide receiver in the NFL.
Allen had quite the productive career at California as he emerged as one of the top possession receivers at the college ranks.
My biggest knock against Allen is that he might not have the kind of speed that can consistently burn opposing cornerbacks—there will certainly be cornerbacks that are far more faster than Allen.
However, if Allen is available at No. 29—which might be a stretch, as he might be the first wider receiver taken off of the board—then the Patriots should consider bringing in the former Golden Bear.
Robert Woods, USC
I’m not completely sold on Robert Woods. However, he does project to be a top 45 or even top 30 selection in the draft.
Woods’ biggest strength is that he’s an outstanding route runner and should evolve as a solid possession receiver at the next level. Woods was an All-State track star in high school, and it shows in the way that he runs his routes as he doesn’t lose much speed.
Aside from being one of the best route runners in this year’s class, he certainly has the best set of hands—there’s no question about it. Woods’ probably has the largest catch radius out of any wide receiver in this year’s draft, as he stands in at 6’1″ and has a pretty impressive jumping ability.
If the Patriots want a guy that can run just any route on the route tree in an extremely fluid fashion as well as having the speed to break a 50-yard touchdown, then Robert Woods is their guy.
Other receiver options in play in the first round: Quinton Patton (LA Tech), Justin Hunter (Tennessee)