NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
For the longest time, I thought it was taking forever for the draft to get here, now I find myself scrambling to get all the information out to you as I want. It seems as though the Belichick and the Patriots are serious about adding a wide receiver in the draft. The staff has been to a lot of pro days and had a lot of the top guys in for visits and workouts. So lets take a look at who they might look at and who might be a good fit.
Current Roster: Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Brian Tyms, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Brandon Gibson, Matthew Slater, Greg Orton, Jonathon Krause, Kevin Dorsey.
Position Need: Medium
When you have a QB like Tom Brady throwing the ball, you could put me out there (don’t laugh, I am 6’4″ and have fantastic hands) and he would find a way to make the passing game look good. That being said, I think the Patriots should and will add at least one wide receiver in the draft. Let’s be honest, after Edelman and Lafell, there are a lot more questions than answers. Amendola came on late in the year, but I think his reworked contract makes him more of a one year rental. Former draft picks Dobson and Boyce have struggled with health or fitting in with the offense and can’t be relied on until they prove it. Gibson was an interesting pickup that could pay off, but he to is coming off an injury and will need to acclimate quickly to the offense or be banished forever. Tyms was the surprise of last year, but was just a deep threat and he too must learn to do more to be a regular contributor. We all know Slater is a WR only in name and the rest of the guys will struggle to make the team.
Nelson Agholor, USC (6’0″ 198 Lbs.) 2nd round
I really like Agholor and I think his play style would fit in fantastically with what the Patriots do. Other than not having elite size for the position, he is right up there in everything else. He plays fast, he is in and out of breaks quickly and he doesn’t slow down doing so. He has fantastic body control and he attacks the ball. He has great hands and makes the difficult catches look easy. After the catch he is just as impressive. He shows good vision and awareness to find the open space and maximize his yards after catch. Agholor is a hard worker and a team captain. He is not the biggest guy, but he does play like a number one receiver, but really his skill set will allow him to play multiple positions.
Jalen Strong, Arizona State (6’2″, 217 Lbs.) 2nd round
Strong is a bigger receiver both in height and bulk. He has the size to screen out defenders and he consistently wins contested balls. He has fantastic hands and good body control to be a productive outside receiver. Strong has good timed speed, but it does not show up consistently on tape. He struggles to gain separation in college and it could be a bigger issue in the NFL. He is a physical runner after the catch but needs to learn to use his physicality at the snap of the ball to get of jams. Strong has build up speed, but loses momentum when asked to run more complicated routes.
Justin Hardy, East Carolina (5’10”, 192 Lbs.) 2nd/3rd round
see my scouting report on him from earlier this season. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/01/scouting-report-justin-hardy-wr.html
Tre McBride, William and Mary (6’0″, 210 Lbs.) 3rd round
McBride screams Patriots player to me. Very intelligent both on and off the field (offer from Harvard) and he comes from a military family. He has an NFL ready build and is ahead of the game in terms of route running despite playing at a lower level college. Like Agholor, he lined up all over the field and has some flexibility on where he can play. McBride has excellent body control and very good hands. He also was a very good punt and kick returner, which the Patriots might be looking for. McBride does not have the quick movement skills in and out of his breaks and he could struggle with separation at the next level.
Tyler Lockett, Kansas State (5’9″, 182 Lbs.) 3rd/4th round
I know, I know, another tiny receiver for the Patriots seems crazy, but if you watch Lockett you can’t help but fall in love with his game. He plays much bigger than his size, although I do worry some that he could struggle getting off the line at the next level. He is fast, and that is an understatement. The best part though, is he keeps his speed in and out of his breaks, which makes him almost impossible to cover. Lockett will fight for the ball and despite his size did a nice job winning contested throws. Obviously his size, both from a height and bulk perspective are negatives, but I watched a lot of his games, and there was no game where he could be defended even somewhat consistently.
Chris Conley, Georgia (6’1″, 213 Lbs.) 3rd/4th round
Conley burst onto the scene with his fantastic combine. He has good size and electric speed. He is a threat to take it to the house on every play. He is a smart guy on and off the field and is a very hard worker. Conley has good hands and adjusts to the ball well. His route tree was limited in college and will need work on his footwork and technique as a route runner to be successful in the NFL. You cannot teach his physical attributes and with some good coaching, he could become a dangerous weapon in the NFL.
Sammie Coates, Auburn (6’1, 212 Lbs.) 4th round
I wasn’t sure if I should put Coates in this list because I think he will go higher than I have him ranked. From a height, weight, speed perspective, Coates is a very intriguing prospect and probably what is going to get him drafted. You can see on tape that corners fear his deep speed and are afraid to play him tight. He is very well built and has the strength to fight through press coverage as well. Where the real problem comes in for Coates is that he just doesn’t have very good ball skills. He struggles to track the ball when it is in the air, sometimes losing it completely even when it is a catchable ball. Coates also has inconsistent hands when he is able to track it. Finally, for as big and physical as he is, he doesn’t win contested balls nearly enough. He doesn’t extend his arms and he routinely makes himself a smaller receiver by not using his length to his advantage. If he can get coached up, the physical traits are there to be a real threat, but he has to become a more natural pass catcher, and that is easier said than done.
Kenny Bell, Nebraska (6’1″, 197 Lbs.) 5th round
Bell has good athleticism, acceleration and foot speed. He is a smart player that can find holes in the defense and make himself a big target. He is tough and consistently made contested catches. Bell has good body control to adjust to poorly thrown balls. He excels s as a blocker and seems to take pride in it. Bell also has special teams experience and can come in day one and contribute. He was a team captain and has NFL bloodlines. Needs to add bulk to his frame as he can be moved off his routes too easily and struggles to get off press.
Tony Lippett, Michigan State (6’2″, 192 Lbs.) 5th round
see my report on him from earlier this year. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2014/12/scouting-report-tony-lippett-wr.html
Ty Montgomery, Stanford (5’11”, 221 Lbs.) 5th round
Montgomery came into the season as a potential first round pick, but a bad senior season has seen his stock drop to where he could be a real steal. Not tall, but he has bulk, Montgomery plays more physical than you would expect. He is a fluid athlete that moves extremely well both vertically and laterally. He shows position versatility as he lined up in multiple positions at Stanford. He is a hard worker and a leader, and that shows up on tape. He has no issues blocking downfield on run plays. Montgomery is one of the better special teams players in this draft as well.
DeAndre Smelter, Georgia Tech (6’2″, 226 Lbs.) 6th round
Smelter is a physical receiver with good height and length. He has long arms and big hands which gives him a big catch radius. Smelter has excellent body control and consistently adjusted to poorly thrown balls. He has soft hands and he attacks the ball rather than allowing the ball to get into his body. Comes from an offense that required him to be a good blocker downfield. He is a hard worker with big play ability. He does not have elite speed and he comes from an offense that did not require him to run a complete route tree. Smelter had a knee injury late in the season and his rookie year may be a red shirt. If not for that, he would be higher on the list.
Tyrell Williams, Western Oregon (6’3″, 204 Lbs.) 6th round
see my report on him from earlier this year. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/03/scouting-report-tyrell-williams-wr.html
Geremy Davis, UConn (6’2″, 216 Lbs.) 6th/7th round
Davis is a big, physical receiver. He uses his body well to shield the ball from defenders and he is relentless after the catch. He has very good body control and he high points the ball very well. Davis does a nice job of using his hands rather than allowing the ball to get into his body. He is not going to wow you with athleticism and he is stiff in his route running, but he does present a big target and is reliable. His timed speed is faster than his on field speed and he struggles to maintain his momentum in and out of breaks.
Ricky Collins, Texas A&M Commerce (5’11”, 196 Lbs.)
Isaac Blakely, Duke (6’6″, 225 Lbs.)
Jordan Taylor, Rice (6’4″, 204 Lbs.)
Darren Waller, Georgia Tech (6’6″, 238 Lbs.)
Devin Gardner, Michigan (6’4″, 217 Lbs.)
Bud Sasser, Missouri (6’2″, 210 Lbs.)
So many WR’s, so little time. There are some guys I just have not had a chance to watch enough of to get a feel for them, so this list might be a little incomplete. Guys like Josh Harper and Rannell Hall are 2 off the top of my head that intrigue me but just didn’t get enough film time on them to make an educated opinion on. I am sure there are more that you guys like that I either didn’t or didn’t get a chance to watch, so let me know what you think or who I missed and I will try and get to them or let you know my opinion on them. As always, thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope your are enjoying them.
follow me on twitter at: firstname.lastname@example.org