Patriots Wide Receiver Breakdown: Volume in Numbers at OTAs

The Patriots’ wide receiving corps was highlighted during the summer of 2013, and it is once again in 2014. (Photo: Oliver Thomas)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

As organized team activities opened up on Tuesday, May 27, the New England Patriots filled the 90-man roster to maximum capacity by signing two wide receivers. In doing so, one of the positions which grew scarce with attrition and inexperience last season now stands among the squad’s deepest in volume.

It stands at 13.

In a numbers game, though, less than half of that baker’s dozen will ultimately make the 53-man roster. And if the past serves as an indicator of the future, the process will remain a fluid one until then.

That was illustrated last June, as the Patriots stocked OTAs with 10 wideouts. The pool included three incumbents – who combined 21 receptions for the year prior – along with four veteran signings, two rookie draft picks and two undrafted rookies.

The average age of the nucleus was 25 years old.

But by the time OTAs turned into training camp and the preseason, the landscape shifted. Rookie Mark Harrison was never activated from the non-football injury list, incumbent Kamar Aiken and veterans Michael Jenkins, Donald Jones and Lavelle Hawkins were let go. Several more joined only to meet the same fate.

The fate of New England’s 2014 collection is not yet known. Even so, there are some elements that are.

One of the lone certainties is its youth. The average age is 24, and no player is older than 28.

Age can be deceiving, however, as eight of whom were members of the Patriots in some capacity last season. Of that group, five netted a tally of 237 receptions. And among the rest, one went to a Pro Bowl for special teams, and two others went under the first-year player category.

Yet while the Patriots have five more receivers and 216 more receptions returning than in June of 2013, there are some fresh faces at Gillette Stadium as well. One of them was signed via unrestricted free agency, three signed as undrafted rookies, and one landed as a draft choice.

In the end, though, each player will have to stand apart to earn their place. That’s not a new revelation for most of them.

Only six wideouts on New England’s roster entered the league as draft picks, and the Patriots war room had its hand in drafting five of them. As for the seven others, they entered as free agents.

But regardless of age or arrival in Foxborough, every receiver carries their own traits. Some have stood out in the crowd for their routes; others have stood out for their speed or hands.

Some have stood out just by standing. And although size isn’t a barometer of success, it can be a barometer of what an organization is looking for in terms of utilization.

Last season, the Patriots were forced to move inside receivers outside when injuries struck. The aftereffects shortened the field and limited the passing windows down in the red zone. So, as the team heads into the summer of 2014, the semblance of “X” and “Z” receivers remains an area to monitor.

At this juncture, four Patriots receivers measure in over 6’1”, seven others measure in between 6’0” and 5’10”, and two others are in the books at 5’9” or under. In contrast with the assembly showcased some 365 days ago, the number of receivers over 6’1” remains unchanged, while the number of receivers 6’0” or under has increased by two.

In essence, as far as height is concerned, there haven’t been any drastic alterations. Yet with presumable growth in both development and depth, perhaps the manner in which the receivers can disperse has.

But it all remains to be seen. OTAs will give way to mandatory minicamp, and then Patriots will head off on vacation June 19. In all reality, the waters will stay murky until training camp embarks in late July.

Until then, here is a closer look at each target within the numbers.

Julian Edelman – 5’10″, 198 Pounds, Age 28, Sixth Year, Kent State

This offseason, Julian Edelman re-signed with the team that took a chance on him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft. And after the QB-turned-WR landed 105 catches for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns last year, four years and $17 million proved to be a worthwhile investment for the Patriots organization. Edelman caught 37 passes as a rookie, but connected for just 32 over his next three NFL seasons combined. But with a healthy 16-game season under his belt, Edelman has validated his importance on offense as an inside-out receiver, and on special teams as an elusive punt returner.

Aaron Dobson – 6’3″, 200 Pounds, Age 22, Second Year, Marshall

A second-round draft choice via Marshall in 2013, Aaron Dobson’s rookie year began with fourth-quarter snaps in the preseason. But by Week 3 of the regular season, he was New England’s starting “X” receiver. Dobson went on to start nine of the 12 contests he played in, totaling 37 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns. And by year’s end, he had clinched the most receiving yards and touchdowns for a Patriots rookie receiver in the era of quarterback Tom Brady. Although he was wasn’t the same after suffering a stress fracture left foot in Week 12, and although it escalated into offseason surgery, he’s in position to build on a promising year one.

Danny Amendola – 5’11”, 195 Pounds, Age 28, Sixth Year, Texas Tech

After signing a five-year, $28 million deal in March of 2013, Danny Amendola went on to catch 54 passes for 633 yards and two touchdowns over 12 games. He coped with injury and missed the second, third, fourth and seventh games of the regular season, but he also broke out with two 10-catch performances and three 100-yard performances from primarily the slot. Over his previous five years, he made Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad as an undrafted rookie out of Texas Tech, before later working onto the St. Louis Rams as a returner and receiver, attaining 196 receptions for 1,726 yards and seven scores there.

Brandon LaFell – 6’2”, 210 Pounds, Age 27, Fifth Year, LSU

A third-round out of LSU back in 2010, LaFell signed a three-year, $9 million deal with the Patriots this March. Over his first four NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers, the long possession receiver was used as both a “Z” and a slot receiver, creating a size mismatch over the middle and deep outside on corner routes. He has caught 167 passes for 2,385 yards and 13 touchdowns since entering the league, including a 49-catch, 627-yard, five-touchdown 2013.

Kenbrell Thompkins – 6’1”, 195 Pounds, Age 25, Second Year, Cincinnati

Kenbrell Thompkins traveled a long road before joining New England as an undrafted rookie in 2013. But as early as preseason opener, the University of Cincinnati receiver by way of El Camino College emerged as an appealing target for Brady. He made the 53-man roster and played in 12 regular-season games as a split end and flanker, totaling 32 catches for 466 yards and four touchdowns – including the game-winner against the New Orleans Saints in Week 6.

Josh Boyce – 5’11”, 205 Pounds, Age 23, Second Year, Texas Christian

After 161 catches, 2,535 receiving yards and a TCU record 22 touchdowns, Josh Boyce was drafted by New England in the fourth round of 2013. As a rookie, he played in eight games and started three before his season concluded on injured reserve in January. He caught nine passes for 121 yards, and was deployed as an “X”, a “Z” and a slot receiver when the position thinned. And on special teams, he returned nine kicks for 214 yards. His best game came versus the Cleveland Browns in Week 14, when he played 72 snaps, drew two pass interference penalties, and was able to reel in three passes for 49 yards – 38 after the catch.

Matthew Slater – 6’0”, 210 Pounds, Age 28, Seventh Year, UCLA

Since he was taken in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, the son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater has carved his own niche. Though he has only one reception for 46 yards to show for it, Matthew Slater also has three Pro Bowls for his invaluable efforts on special teams. A three-time team captain, Slater has 88 tackles and a forced fumble on his NFL resume. He’s served as a gunner, a safety and a kick returner. And in 2013, he served as a blocking specialist at wideout, logging 16 of his 20 offensive snaps during run plays, per Pro Football Focus.

Jeremy Gallon – 5’8”, 184 Pounds, Age 24, Rookie, Michigan

Measured in as 5’7” at the NFL Scouting Combine but listed as 5’8” on the Patriots official website, Jeremy Gallon is the smallest receiver drafted by New England in the Bill Belichick era. Even with that natural disadvantage, the seventh-rounder proved he could play big during his tenure with the Michigan Wolverines. Over his final four seasons in Ann Arbor, Gallon caught 173 passes for 2,704 yards and 17 touchdowns, emerging for 89 receptions, 1,373 yards and nine TDs as a redshirt senior in 2013. Playing both outside and in the slot, Gallon set a Big Ten single-game record with 369 receiving yards against Indiana on Oct. 19. The former high school running back also spelled as a returner and rusher in college.

Reggie Dunn – 5’9”, 178 Pounds, Age 25, First-Year Player, Utah

After stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Green Bay Packers, the Cleveland Browns and the Miami Dolphins, Reggie Dunn joined New England’s practice squad during last January’s playoff run. A product of Compton Community College and later the University of Utah, Dunn’s implementation has varied between receiver, halfback and returner. Over his three seasons with the Utes, he secured 31 passes for 355 yards and one touchdown, and 40 rushing attempts for 330 yards and two touchdowns. Nonetheless, Dunn’s spark has been special teams, as he ran four kick returns back for touchdowns in 2012 – an NCAA record – and totaled five over his FBS career. At his pro day leading up to the 2013 NFL draft, he ran a 4.24 40-yard dash but went unselected.

Mark Harrison – 6’3”, 230 Pounds, Age 23, First-Year Player, Rutgers

After a fracture to his fifth metatarsal bone kept the aforementioned Harrison from being drafted in April of 2013, the Rutgers Scarlet Knight joined the Patriots as a free agent. But after being placed on the reserve/NFI list that spring, Harrison never was cleared to practice in full. And consequently, his first year with New England ended in medical “redshirt.” Harrison impressed with a 4.46-second 40-yard dash, a 6.99-second three-cone, a 38.5-inch vertical leap and a 10’9” broad jump in Indianapolis, and his potential remains a point of intrigue despite health concerns. He caught 107 passes for 1,769 yards and 18 touchdowns at Rutgers between 2009 and 2012.

Derrick Johnson – 5’11”, 190 Pounds, Age 22, Rookie, Maine

Derrick Johnson signed a contract with the Patriots after being invited to tryout at the team’s rookie minicamp. The undrafted free agent out of Maine earned his first start in 2010; and over his 37 career games, he totaled 116 receptions for 1,165 yards and four touchdowns. The redshirt senior also recorded 11 rushes for 47 yards, 13 kick returns for 247 yards during his time with the Black Bears, and has experience as a special-teamer. At his May pro day in Orono, Johnson ran a 4.47-second 40-time and a 6.60-second three-cone time, but also registered a 33-inch vertical leap and 10’2” broad jump.

Wilson Van Hooser – 6’0”, 197 Pounds, Age 23, Rookie, Troy

Wilson Van Hooser signed with the Patriots after four seasons at Tulane and a redshirt senior campaign at Troy in 2013. As a pass-catcher, Van Hooser accumulated 68 collegiate receptions for 993 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a 36-catch, 487-yard, four-touchdown redshirt sophomore year with the Green Wave. As a return man, he also tacked on six career punt returns for 35 yards and 20 career kick returns for 319 yards. At his pro day in March, Van Hooser ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash and a 6.96-second three-cone drill, also posting 39-inch vertical leap and 10’6” broad jump.

Reese Wiggins – 5’11”, 193 Pounds, Age 23, Rookie, East Carolina

Reese Wiggins signed with New England out of East Carolina, where he played with 6’8” tight end Justin Jones – a fellow Patriots undrafted signee. Used predominantly as an outside receiver, Wiggins amassed 80 catches for 1,012 yards and eight scores over his final three seasons with the Pirates. And as fifth-year senior in 2013, he earned All-Conference USA Honorable Mention after tallying 26 receptions for 372 yards and four touchdowns. At the Detroit Regional Scouting Combine in March, Wiggins clocked a 4.37-second 40-time, a 6.89-second three-cone, 40-inch vertical leap and a 10’1” broad jump.

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64 Responses to “Patriots Wide Receiver Breakdown: Volume in Numbers at OTAs”

  1. matt anderson says:

    If the offense is really going to fly then Thompkins,Boyce, and Dobson must get up to speed and develop a strong rapport withbtom Brady! They are the fastest,most athletic and talented WRs on the team. First Boyce should win snaps at the slot. He is far more talented than either of the wonder twins, Edel and Dola. His speed,power,athleticism allows him to do things they could NEVER do. He is shifty, has great speed,hands,athleticism,power and will be a serious deep threat from the slot. That opens more up for him and other pass catchers when they MUST fear the slot wr going deep. He is as talented/speedy as any of the recent slot wrs that went in the first such as Austin,cooks, and wright. He has legit 4.3 speed. As much as fans love edelman as a limited ability overachiever, Boyce from the slot can take this offense to another level. Next we come to the outside WRs. Kenbrell Thompkins is the most talented. I know Dobson is 6’3 nearly 220 and has a very high ceiling in his own right, Thompkins is special. He has elite explosion off the line and is very sharp and fluid in his breaks and can snatch and go as well as almost any wr in the NFL. He has some kinks to iron like using his hands more and the details but the sportswriters in preseason all were salivating at the raw skills they saw. He has been working with his cousin Antonio Brown who has stated Thompkins has more talent than himself. Thompkins is very talented. He is that rare first/second round that fell through the cracks. Didn’t have credentials for Division 1 school due to a troubled past but became the top Jr college transfer recruit in the country. Every school in the SEC,Pac12 and Big12. He settled at Cincinnati where they didn’t have the QB or system to display his Talents. He is 6’1 and has legit 4.4 speed,fluidity,and explosiveness comparable to Jeremy Maclin. He was on his way to 1000 yards 10tds as a rookie b4 rookie mental mistakes and injuries derailed him. Most people don’t understand how amazing it was for him to perform well that early as raw as he was. In that saints game comeback, Brady had most trust that this rookie was the most likely to make a big play.

    Dobson is also talented. He is big,quick and fluid. He has very good athleticism and quickness in his breaks and cuts. But just a touch less than Kenbrell but he is bigger and stronger. He has flat 4.4 speed to get deep as well along with athleticism and fluidity on a 6’3 216 LB frame. The reason I give Thompkins the thinnest edge is his elite explosion off the line and his snatch and go explosion. Dobson ranks very high in these categories and is bigger and much stronger. However as of now Dobson lacks elusiveness after the catch. He has the skill to improve in that department but as of now its the one thing in the way of him becoming an elite WR. To many occasions he couldn’t shake defenders in the open field. As he stands now he has talent to be a decent #1wr but if he improves in that category he has talent to be a top10 WR in the NFL.Although I like Thompkins a touch better at this moment, Dobson could end up the more dangerous WR. It will come down to who works the hardest,smoothes the rough edges, and harnesses his immense talent. Hopefully they both do.
    If Finley is cleared to play, he would complete this offense. He is tall,very strong,can block and has very good speed/athleticism to come down with passes or snag sizzling bullets with defenders hanging over him.. He could be as dangerous as Hernandez with Gronk in 2TE sets. He is a plus blocker as well to help the run game in 2TE sets. He is a real mismatch. He can block most any LB yet not many can handle his 6’5 athletic frame in coverage. With him the offense becomes dangerous again in 2TE sets except this time we have deep threats at WR to further spring these 2TE sets. We had no deep threat with our other 2TE sets. Definitely far more dangerous this time around with speed to burn at WR.

    The last part to complete our explosive offense is RB. I would like to see Vereen get more snaps on the first 2 downs. He adds that receiving threat and with his speed will be very dangerous as a pass catching threat with the defense scrambling to contain the other dangerous pass catchers. Vereen runs with more power than many think. I watched him break a Laron Landry twice in the same game that resulted in 2 first downs. One occasion was while hauling in a pass he broke out of a tackle. I would like to see him continue to develop his routes and hands. If Ridley developed routes and his hands he would become an absolute terror in the open field slashing/breaking tackles after the catch. He could be the second coming of Roger Craig! But unless he works overtime developing his routes and hands Vereen should get more snaps on early downs due to his skills catching passes. But Ridley can develop as a pass catcher but he would have to practice every second he is awake every day from now through preseason. Not sure he is that motivated. But Shane is no slouch as a runner and he is already a good passcatcher and improving still.

    Just maybe the talent is already on this roster to match Denver’s offense. We just need the right guys on the field practicing with Brady,smoothing rough edges,refining routes to develop a strong rapport with Brady to make this offense potent. Edelman I realize is a shorter not very explosive overachiever that many fans root for. But he isn’t that guy who can get it done deep in the post season when the tough defenses set out to stop him. The offense will stall again in the AFCCG. He is the most productive WR because he has the oldest chemistry with Brady. But if we are going to take that next step to THE SHOW then we have to get our most talented players on the field and up to speed with Brady. Edelman is OK as a part time slot. I actually think he is a fine slot as long as we have talent surrounding him on the outside. He would do just fine. However, you can’t argue that Boyce isnt a far more dangerous wr from the slot. He can do things Edelman can’t and the team should be working overtime to get him up to speed with Brady! Just watch the tape! Boyce made big plays and consistly ran away from defenses loaded with NFL talent. Edelman can’t do that. I like Edelman in the slot but if the offense is to improve and take the next STEPS, that includes getting your best talent on the field and up to speed, PERIOD. No matter who’s playing time is downsized for the good of the team. The offense becoming potent just simply won’t happen through Edelman/Amendola playing even smarter and improving rapport with Brady. The better defenses will squat on them and shut them down every time. They are smaller pass catchers and will be overpowered by physical corners and they don’t have the explosion/fluidness to overcome it and make defenses pay like the explosive smaller WRs like Jackson,Austin,Cooks and the others.

    I would imagine what I’m saying its time to stop trying to turn these short slow limited slots into #1 WRs and the offenses main feature. IT DOESNT WORK! ITS FAILED TIME AND AGAIN AGAINST PLAYOFF TEAMS! UNLESS, that slot Wide out is explosive and can torch the Defense deep consistently if they sit on the short passes. Edelman is a good slot but Boyce has the talent to be special. If a team doesn’t work to get its best players up to speed then the talent is being diluted. You can be sure other teams are getting their most talented players coached up to speed. If Boyce doesn’t phase Edelman out(not completely) as the year progresses as he does himself then the talent is diluted. You have to give your best players reps to get them up to speed. You may takes bumps and bruises while doing so but the rewards will begin paying you back towards seasons end and best of all the post season and championship. You could sacrifice some points and maybe even one less win but its a small price to pay to have your young and most talented players up to speed and a strong rapport with Tom Brady for the most important time of year, The playoffs.

    • Kevan says:

      Everyone has their unique skill set. Pats lost last year because Gronk got hurt along with Thompkins, Dobson in that outside role, which forced Edelman to play out of position. On top of all the defensive injuries and poor Oline play. I wonder how you can be so dead on with Boyce,Thompkins,Dobson and so completely ignorant when it comes to Edelman and Amendola? Their skill set is perfect for this offense, Edelman is about the same size as Boyce too. Their start and stop is second to none and ideally Thompkins,Dobson,Gronk open things up for those guys in the middle and it becomes a cake walk for Brady. Boyce can play outside and inside. You don’t have to knock someone to compliment another. It takes a lot of talent to catch 100 passes for 1000 yds PERIOD. There is a place for these guys on the team, PERIOD. It’s a fact man just accept it. Amendola and Edelman will be a huge part of this offense if healthy. To blame them as the reason for losses in the playoffs is short sighted and flat out wrong. Yes, Thompkins,Dobson,Boyce are legit talents they will be really good to really great but Edelman is a beast and Amendola will ball if he can stay healthy. That’s a guarantee

  2. J H TARBORO says:

    UDFA WR Derrick Johnson Maine was released today from the squad.

  3. Kevan says:

    I just looked up James Anderson’s 2006 combine numbers out of curiosity. Pretty impressive, ran a 40 under 4.6, vertical was over 40, 3 cone was 6.68(2 tenths slower than Mcourtey). Anderson has nfl production too.

    • GM-in-Training says:

      Anderson seems like a legit cover LB. At 6’2″ and 229, he’s sized more like a strong safety. He’s light for a patriot LB. I don’t know if you want him in on first downs. He’s been very productive before though, so I like him for increasing depth. Has anyone seen what the pats are paying him?

  4. J H TARBORO says:

    Too bad about Mark Harrison! Some of us should get off this size kick about receivers and RBs, talent is talent that’s it, nothing more, nothing less.

    • GM-in-Training says:

      Sure, talent is talent…but that’s an agglomeration of agility, skill, anticipation, speed, strength, determination, stamina, composure, size and such. There are a few 5’8″ receivers who succeed, but not many. Look at the top TD catchers in the league and they tend to be taller. We’ve got tons of slot guys on the 90-man roster, but we’re shy on big, athletic outside receivers.

    • DMC413 says:

      You can find a slot receiver anywhere and plug them into your system which is why BB didn’t want to pay WW. On the other hand finding a person who creates problems in the redzone which is where we struggle the most, size is going to be an important factor!!! MH didn’t play a down the NFL so I am not saying to “crown him”, however if he possessed the athletic TALENT and catch ability to go along with his size, would of created headaches for alot of people.

    • steve earle says:

      I too thought Harrison might be an interesting prospect though I’m never surprised when an udfa or bottom of the draft guy might be let go. Some spec he may have reinjured, can’t say. Still lots of other interesting prospects still here.

  5. Matt says:

    So Anderson plays OLB I guess they will move Collins to play ILB and play him next to Mayo. Which I don’t think would be to bad. I think Collins will be a sold LB no matter where he lines up.

    • Bobthebuilder says:

      Uh no. Anderson is depth, not a starter. Also, Hightower would play inside before Collins. Not to mention we don’t even use 2 ILBs, instead one MLB, who isn’t even Mayo, it will be Hightower.

  6. Kevan says:

    Yes I heard Harrison might have been injured again in OTA’s. He had some impressive Measurables for sure but I’m glad the pats signed james Anderson. Very good for the depth at lb. I was sad to see Dane fletcher go, he was much more familiar with the play book, but Anderson probably has a little more talent, I think anyway. He excels in coverage. First thing I thought is that could free up Collins for more blitzing. Hightower would be coming off the field on third downs.

  7. matt anderson says:

    Harrison, HUH! Just another loser wr the patriot fans starved of a true wr talent had hopes of becoming great. Bill has still failed to draft a 1000 yard wr outside of edelman. He had 1000 yards by default! He was simply the most experienced wr with Brady. His catches were schemed not won. That’s why no other team wanted him in free agency just like Amendorka. Both we overpayed. Both could have been signed at barely above league vet minimum! NO OTHER TEAMS SHOWED INTEREST IN THESE 2 G@Y WONDERTWINS! BILL LIKED THEM AND HELPED THEM PERSONALLY ALONG WITH THEIR SO CALLED INTELLIGENT PLAY AND PAYED THEM LIMITED SKILLED LOSERS FAR ABOVE WHAT ANY OTHER TEAMS OFFERED THEM IN FREE AGENCY. BECAUSE BILL LIKED THEM ON A PERSONAL LEVEL!! HOW CAN ONE TEAM PAY 2 LIMITED SKILL SLOT WRS FAR ABOVE WHAT ANY OTHER TEAM WOULD HAVE.


    • Kevan says:

      Matt Anderson just stop it man, you sound like an idiot. 1000 yd WR by default? Really? That’s why he just smoked Revis in OTA’s huh, because of a scheme right. As far as free agency goes nobody picked up Edelman because he had yet to get that 1000 yds and had injury issues. Amendola got signed the day free agency started, literally, so really you or I don’t know how other teams valued him. Caps don’t change anything either.

  8. matt anderson says:

    Gallon should surpass the G@Y Wondertwins Edelman/amendola at wr in the slot wr role. They are both terribly limited as WRs. They lack fluidity to jump while running laterally. They lack ability to haul in these passes. Corners have more size,length, speed, ability than they have. These guys lack the ability and athleticism gallon and others possess. At least gallon has the athleticism and fluidity the wonder twins lack.

    Our most talented WRs are Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. All these guys have low 4.4 speed to sub 4.4 speed. Boyce is an elite slot talent. ELITE. Dobson has lots of speed,athleticism, talent. Thompkins however is the most talented!! Far from a typical UFA! He never had a division 1 level caliber qb throwing him the ball! He has low to sub 4.4 speed. The best burst/explosion in cuts/breaks and great catch and go explosion. He is Awesome! His talent equals or exceeds Jeremy Maclin. His nfl equal. How can we consider his awesome talent without considering how good he can become. Our other WRs are talented. Boyce/Dobson, but KT has Chad Johnson ability. He is a young chad Johnson. Very quick in his breaks and cuts. And just a half a step away from that rare player who can run away from the entire defense. His NFL training should make him that rare wr who can do that. Run from entire defense!

    Cam Flemming is nothing short of awesome! He should replace mankins sometime this year. Mankins makes 10million this year. Almost all garunteed. We cant do anything bout that. However next year his 10 million isn’t garunteed. Cutting that overrated maggot saves $$ next year. Nothing we can do bout it this season. Flemming can outplay him at guard. Younger more athletic and more powerful. I hope that’s the plans for Flemming because he will struggle terribly at Tackle in the NFL! However he would be a guard on the level of Carl Nicks or up and coming future pro bowler Kelechi Osemele. Bill needs to learn how to get his best lineman on the field at the same time. And Flemming is a powerful pro bowl caliber Guard. Just average RT!

    • Kevan says:

      I agree with a lot of your post man, but not all if it. I don’t know if you were watching last year but Edelman caught 100 passes last year. His start and stop is nasty as is amendola’s. There is so much more to football than these timed speeds. Troy brown and Wes welker both run 4.7 40’s. Hypothetically, if pats have Dobsos and Lafell/thompkins on the outside with Edelman and amendola on the inside that would be really hard for any defense to stop. Thompkins ability to get off press coverage is special. I agree he will be really good, and completely agree about Boyce. I liked Boyce before the pats drafted him, I think he can be really good. I don’t know enough about Gallon so I won’t speak on it. Amendola has one issue and that’s staying healthy, he does that, he is putting up some big #’s in this offense. I just don’t understand the venom towards those guys or Mankins. I do agree this could be his last season as a patriot if he does not take a pay cut. His game has slipped but I think that was due to playing with injury. Right now he is the veteran on that line though, and no one is tougher than Mankins, NO ONE! That guy played almost a full season with a torn ACL then tore his ACL in the other knee in the playoffs and still kept playing! That is tuff on steroids times a 1000 plus aliens man. I don’t know I think your being too hard in the white boys man. Barring injury they all have a place on this team for the upcoming season, and Edelman and amendola will put up big #’s too. Quit hatin homie

  9. GM-in-Training says:

    They just released Harrison. Dang. I was really hoping he could be a faster, stronger Dobson. To me he had special teams written all over him. Maybe he never really got healthy.

    • DMC413 says:

      Was hoping Mark Harrison was going to provide some serious offense for us this year seeing his 6’3 230 frame would be hard for smaller DB’s to handle and to athletic for larger defensive players… Some much for wishful thinking BB knows what he’s doing!?!?!?!?!

    • munchkin says:

      It was reported that Harrison was late for OTAs. You can’t do that and survive.
      Anderson’s signing was much needed. Evidently he is horrible against the run but fits the backup role in every other way including exceptional intangibles.

  10. J H TARBORO says:

    Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus just wrote a disrespectful article about Tom Brady not being a top 5 QB, listing him below Phillip Rivers and Ben Rothlisberger. Monson pointed out his lack of weapons and poor offensive line play but still was disrespectful of Brady. Patriot fans should sound off on this clown, the way ESPN First take with Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith did. blasphemous!

    • Jack says:

      Well, lemme see here…no interior OL, which is even worse than no outside OL since you can’t step into the pocket…3 rookie receivers, all of whom were out hurt at one time or another anyway…no Hernandez…1/3 a season of Gronk…no elite receivers…Amendola new to the team and hurt…Wes Welker, his #1 reciever, gone…Brandon Lloyd, gone. Woodhead, gone. Mankins had an off-year.

      Brady pulled off a miracle to get the amount of wins he did on that team. It frankly was one of his best years, stats be damned.

    • acm says:

      To put things into perspective – who is Sam Monson?

  11. MaineMan says:

    Reply to Jack T. (from June 1, 2014 at 12:10pm)

    “Gotta love Patriots talk. Everyone else talks about making the playoffs. We talk SBs during OTAs after picking 29th.”

    Great line! And so true. I’ll be quoting you at work tomorrow, if you don’t mind.

    WRT Easley and the starting lineup – I’m not sure how much of a “starting lineup” there will be on the interior DL. Thinking about the way the Seahawks’ DL manhandled the Broncos OL, they had guys who started games, but they seemed to be rotating them out and back in on successive series – actually, it was pretty much their entire DL, not just the interior – to the point where “starting lineup” was kind of irrelevant.

    I’m not saying that BB will take things that far this season, but I think he’s been heading there and guys like Easley (and Armstead, if/when he’s healthy) can certainly make that approach more viable.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure that Easley will be ready to play for week-1 and it seems likely to me that he plays significant snaps (+/- 50%) and makes significant contributions as a rookie, whether he actually “starts” or not.

    Thomas and Jimmie Ward both stood out during Shrine Week and I was far less surprised that Ward got picked in the 1st than I was that Thomas slid so far.

    Speaking of highlight reels, there’s a clip out there of Easley lined up directly over the Center against Toledo that’s pretty amazing. Toledo is rushing up to the line for a quick-snap on 4th-and-inches. The right side of their line isn’t even set when the Center snaps the ball, so there’s no snap count to “time”. But the ball never gets to the QB’s hands because Easley has already driven the Center back a yard and overrun him, which is also about the moment that everyone else on the field starts moving. I mean, I know it’s Toledo and that they were in cluster*** mode (THEY probably got a flag for Illegal Motion/False Start), but still Easley’s quickness is so nearly superhuman that you initially think he HAD to be offsides. But you look at it again and, no, he’s not. He really was that quick off the actual snap (and had incredible leverage as well).

    BTW, thanks for the compliment. Back at ya.

  12. Geoff says:

    I am very comfortable assuming the offense will spend a lot more time on the field this year, Brady is going to turn a few of these kids into stars. As noted, it’s a deep group, just not at the “X”. I hope Gallon makes it to the practice squad.

  13. Kevan says:

    Thank you for the sour out Steve Earle, your an intelligent dude so that’s cool. I think the wr’s are going to be a lot better than people are saying. Year 2 jumps for these guys, lafell will be a good fit. If amendola stays healthy it’s gonna be lights out. I know that’s a big if but this is an interesting group that offers a little bit of everything. I think the guy who is gonna surprise everyone is Boyce, I liked him coming out of college and was pulling for the pats to draft him. We can only wait and see but I’m high on this group, Marc Harrison is an intriguing player too, but he is probably gonna have to beat out thompkins for a spot on the team. Edelman,Dobson,amendola,lafell,Boyce,slater,thompkins,Harrison,gallon. In that order.

  14. MaineMan says:

    Reply to JIM (from 5/29, 11:50pm)

    You’re lumping all “TE’s” together. I’m talking about LaFell only in the “move TE” role – primarily a receiving role with duties as an outside and downfield run-blocker. It’s what guys like Amaro and Ebron do (neither of whom block very much or as successfully as LaFell, BTW). In that role, LaFell won’t be assigned to take on DTs or DE’s like Gronk or Hooman or Develin, but he would be tasked with sealing off LBs (which he’s done very well) and taking out Safeties and CBs downfield (which he did devastatingly well against the Pats).

    Your value comparison with Jones, Nicks and Austin also doesn’t track with what I’m talking about since they don’t have the experience playing the “move-TE/H-back” role that LaFell has – they’re WRs only. LaFell’s demonstrated effectivness in that role provides great value for the Pats, more than those others would and, in that regard, LaFell probably has greater value for the Pats than he would for most other teams. IOW, he’s the right fit at the right time and at the right price. The fact that some Panthers fans don’t get that is irrelevant.

    • Jack T says:

      I remember LaFell from his LSU days, Geaux Tigers. I can see him in a downfield blocking and receiving role, but I don’t think he’s a good fit from the move TE position, MM. He’s too light and a fraction too slow given the speed of the running backs. From the slot, okay. The Harrison kid may fit the dual role WR/Move TE position better, but he’s still an enigma.
      I also went back and watched Justin Jones’s tapes. Ho boy, this kid will be a project and a half. He’s no Gronk. As big as he is, he goes down almost immediately after the catch (shades of All World Russ Francis) and half the time he looks lost out in space. He runs very erect and doesn’t display very good balance/equilibrium. He actually did much better as a DE back in HS when the only responsibility he had was blasting through people and teeing off on the QB. I think he’ll end up as a practice squad candidate. Def worth spending some time coaching up though to see if he can learn and adapt to some kind of role, but he may end up as this year’s Tebow. In other words cast from the mold of the freakishly athletic and graduated from the school of improve football, but unfortunately not much else.

      • Stephen J says:

        As far as Jones goes I was wondering how much different better he is/was to Sudfeld from last year. Jones seems to have more upside with time given his size 2” taller and 20 lbs heavier (possibly better blocking) plus he had a 40″ vertical large catching radius with good hands but Sudfeld was smarter and used his athleticism better(Route running).

        • Jack T says:

          I think the Patriots secretly wanted Ryan to grab Sudfeld off waivers. It was almost funny at the time because we were in desperate need of a TE. Zach just couldn’t handle the spotlight. He looked okay in preseason but didn’t do squat in the first few regular season games. He was awful.

      • MaineMan says:

        While I agree that LaFell (6024/211+) doesn’t have the typical “heft” that we’ve come to expect with guys who play the move-TE “role”, it’s not just pure speculation on my part that he was signed by the Pats to cover at least *part* of that role in the offense (in the absence of other viable candidates). He played 60% of his snaps the last couple seasons in Carolina in that very role – and did so effectively at an NFL level. That’s not to say that the Pats would want him as their *only* move-TE and I hope it doesn’t end up that way. However, at this point, their other options are unproven Harrison, Watson and Williams (and both Watson and Williams are slower than LaFell), or signing Keller/Finley (IF healthy). And it seems highly doubtful that anyone who’d be clearly superior to LaFell in that role is going to become available as a free agent between now and week-1.

        I think that BB takes a “Moneyball” approach to these situations and views things more in terms of “roles” than positions. He’d rather have a “good”, versatile player who can cover part of a “role” than a JAG who fits a “position” because he’s more likely to be able to retain the effectiveness of that part of the playbook that way. I mean, we can all *hope* that one or two of Harrison/Watson/Williams steps up in a big way and that Keller and/or Finley turns out to be 100% recovered from their very serious injuries and I’m sure that BB hopes so, too. But BB also does his best to have a fallback plan in place and I believe that LaFell is that plan and that there’s a very real possibility that the Pats go into week-1 carrying six WRs (NOT counting Slater), but with LaFell actually being counted, roster-wise, with the tight-end group along with Gronk, Hooman and one of the five guys discussed above.

        BTW, I also agree that Jason Jones appears to be a project-and-a-half. Reiss noted that he made a very nice shoe-top catch in practice but doesn’t appear to have any fluid agility. That seems a bit odd since Jones posted a very good 6.88 3-cone during his Regional Combine workout in Detroit in March (unless that was a typo that’s been copied across several different sites). OTOH, his height (6076) plus his vertical (37″) would mean that his hands would be nearly 10-feet above the field at the back of the end zone, which might count for something, ;).

        • Jack T says:

          This will wander off-topic a bit. Agree with everything you said, MM. Right now we’re all in the dark as to why BB valued the players he drafted so high relative to who was available and opposed to the picks he chose to make. Jimmy Grap I thought was a pretty safe, conservative insurance policy. BB took that one for the continuity of the team. Don’t remember where I saw it but someone said the JG pick was because BB not only wants to continue coaching for a long time, he desperately wants to win another SB post Brady in order to cement his own legacy. Gotta love Patriots talk. Everyone else talks about making the playoffs. We talk SBs during OTAs after picking 29th.

          I have serious doubts Easley will ever make the starting lineup but what the hey. If he does, BB’s drafting methodology equates to proof of the existence of the Higgs Boson particle, which IMHO the story behind that is pure BS and a beard for something else altogether. 20 billion dollar race track for one particle physics experiment, hmmm. What are those geeks at CERN really up to, lol? The UFAs are all crap shoots but they’re def going to be fun watching. Luck be a lady tonight…

        • Jack T says:

          BTW, with his arms extended JJ can snag balls thrown between 11 1/2 and 12 feet above the field, which has been my biggest bone of contention with the Patriots proclivity for going after 5’9″ receivers or corners (although that video of Jemea Thomas’s one-handed takeaway from Florida State’s 6’5″ first round Carolina Panthers pick Kelvin Benjamin was very impressive. After seeing that I went back and looked at his highlights and it was no fluke. His entire college career was a highlight reel. The kid has exceptional anticipation and recognition and he tackles like he weighs 20 lbs. more than he does. Think Troy Polamalu. Good comments Maine Man.

  15. Ryan says:

    A bit off-topic here, but these marijuana penalties are absolutely inane. Marijuana does not improve the physical state of the player and gives them no unfair advantage. So why are the penalties suspensions at all? If it is an issue of the NFL wanting to have its players present a better image, why is it not just a fine? If the issue is a misdemeanor outside of football and has no effect on the game, then why are season-long suspensions being given out to second-time offenders? Goodell either has a cavity in his brain or a major grudge against marijuana, because we have learned that he is not shy about changing any rule possible. Penalties for marijuana should be a fine for first and second offenses and then a hearing for a suspension for third and additional offenses. Even a four-game suspension for the first offense is unacceptable and totally out-of-touch with how marijuana is viewed by the public. If Goodell wants to make some actual improvements to the game then this is the first place he should start.

    Note: I don’t think that those players suspended under the current rules aren’t idiotic for deciding to smoke it despite the inherent risk to their profession. I just think the punishment is absurdly extreme.

    • Kevan says:

      I remember Pete Carroll saying something about marijuana too. Science backs the pro argument up. It could help combat the concussion problems in the nfl and the depression caused by concussions. Presently that’s still a sticky situation though, a lot of pharmaceutical companies would be in for a big loss, between the pain killers and anti depressants. I’m sure goodell has the FDA in one ear and that’s probably a loud voice. People are coming around though, leading doctors are saying it has medical value(Sanjay Gupta) and it is cleared in over 20 states and recreationally in 2. Done in moderation and responsibly it should be fine to use. Hemp itself is an extremely healthy protein. This comes down to people doing honest research, disregarding terrible propaganda, thinking critically for ourselves, and coming to an honest conclusion. I would rather have my kid smoke a joint over a pain pill, psychotropic drug, alcohol any of it but that’s just me. Usually it’s the person with the biggest wallet and bank account that wins out.

      • Ryan says:

        I think Goodell has to actually realize that, at this point, the path to improving the NFL doesn’t involve increasing revenue or increasing the time that people spend watching NFL games, because those two categories have just about reached their maximum. Instead, the best path to take is to fix the parts of the game that don’t make much sense and can have a large impact. Marijuana rulings fit this billing and need to be addressed because of the way that they can unfairly, adversely affect players and their teams.

    • Jack says:

      I’m not stoner, never have been. But, I’ve partook when I was younger and still do occasionally, e.g. at concerts etc. So, of course I think the policies the league and businesses in general have is completely at odds with what simple observation, let alone science, makes pretty clear – weed is pretty much of a harmless drug. E.g. what are the statistics on car accidents for drivers who are high vs. drivers who are drunk? Liver disease? Impact on general health? Cost of enforcement?

      I did have a bad moment when I saw a text on my daughter’s phone from one of her friends asking here if she had any spare weed. Then again she’s a college grad and holding down a pretty good job since she got out of school. It took me few minutes to process that, but I’d rather she’d be a stoner than a drunk, anyway.

  16. PSW says:

    I think that since the TE position hasn’t been repaired, that maybe BB’s idea is to combine a stronger running game with 3and4 WR sets to spread the field and prevent 8man in the box defenses. A combination of Edelmen, LaFell, and Amendola; starting with Dobson, Boyce, and one other coming off the bench (most likely Gallon, Harrison, or Thompkins), could be effective if healthy. Of my three starters I think Amendola is the most vulnerable to loose his job, either by injury or injury history. Despite the fact that a lot of these new guys are fast, I think most of them have no future unless they can become TB12 personal favorite. To do that they are going to have to do some thing special on the field in which case none of us are going to care who gets cut/traded/sold to gypsies, to make room for them

  17. ugo says:

    Obviously no one knows what these guys will eventually become as a group. Hoping whoever makes the team has tremendous success and quiets the naysayers. But wow, the speed of this group as whole is impressive. Those 40 and 3 cone times are extremely impressive. Speed like, throw in some solid route running and chemistry with Brady, hopefully translates into some good on field production. I think the KR and PR battle is going to be exciting

    • Stephen J says:

      Agreed going to be interesting to see if anything comes from it hopefully they find one gem out of all those.

  18. Jim says:

    Man this is truly a sad crew of WRs. It is seriously lacking in talent. It’s 7th round scrubs, undrafted free agents, and guys that just flat out average. Dola and Edelman have the slot position covered.

    We still need to other WRs for to play on the outside. Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins are really the best candidates for that role. I have no idea why we handed LaFell nearly 10 million dollars? Couldn’t have given Hakeem Nicks that money? The guy who was burned you for 10 catches 100 yards in the SB despite keying in on him?

    • MaineMan says:

      LaFell is a more effective blocker than Hernandez ever was and he played 60% of his snaps the last couple seasons as a “move TE”.

      Considering that the only equally accomplished veterans of the position who are/were available in free agency this season ended up being much more expensive or are trying to come back from extremely serious injury, LaFell’s $3M/yr seems like good value to me.

      • Stephen J says:

        Hernandez wasn’t much of a blocker to begin with so that’s not saying much. The question I have with Lafell is his tendency to drop passes. I have heard that he does because of inaccuracy from the QB he was playing with to his hands aren’t reliable. If its because of inaccuracy then TB should do him wonders since I also heard he is good at getting open but if its his hands then he won’t gain the trust of TB.

        • MaineMan says:

          I actually looked that up and it turns out that LaFell’s drop rate wasn’t as bad as Hernandez’s was – and Lafell’s average target was deeper (lower percentage throw) and his routes much more varied.

          LaFell is also an excellent blocker. He doesn’t merely get in the way, as most WRs seem to do when “blocking”, he actually blows guys up.

        • Jim says:

          There is a difference between being a good blocker for WR and being a good blocker for a TE. For TEs blocking assignments are a lot harder. That’s why they have to weigh between 245-270. And the ones that are undersized (less than 230 lbs ) usually aren’t even used a blockers.

          And I must disagree with you on the value part. Even Panthers fans were surprised how much we gave LaFell, James Jones, Hakeem Nicks, and Miles Austin all WRs that have been much more productive than LaFell got pretty much the same kind of money.

        • Jeff M says:

          The point about LaFell is a good one, especially compared with Hernandez. People seem to get lost in translation because Hernandez was listed as a “TE”. Granted, Hernandez had more weight, however he also was lined up off the LOS, on a VERY consistent basis.

          Hernandez was as much WR as he was TE in that respect, so if you consider the factor of LaFell taking many of those snaps as a “WR/Blocking WR” vs a “Move TE”, the line becomes much more blurry in that regard.

          In that sense, I believe we’ll be seeing Amendola lose snaps to LaFell this year, with Dobson and Edelman as the primary outside targets. Combine that with a hopefully healthy Gronk and run game featuring two RB’s who can catch out of the backfield with Vereen and White; I think our O will function much more smoothly this year, especially if Stork can nail down the starting Center spot, and possibly Cannon at RG. The OL would be much better without Wendell, and possibly even Connolly, although between the two, I prefer Connolly as the backup even if the cost is higher.

  19. GM-in-Training says:

    I think in this league, where CB are getting taller and more intent on press coverage, the big premium is going to be on guys who can get separation…however they get it. Height, strength, speed, cutting ability, deceptive route running…whatever works, I think that’s the quality the Pats are going to scrounge hard for.

    I like Harrison’s physical attributes. He has a great frame for special teams, too. The big question is, can he run patterns, get on the same page as TB, and hold onto catches?

    The Pats obviously like guys who are sudden. They’ve got lots of shifty guys who may be able to get open for those high-percentage short and intermediate passes that move the chains. Assuming they find at least 6-7 guys who can get open, and be in synch with TB, what they then need to filter for is smart guys with swagger.

    • Stephen J says:

      Agreed find receivers that are smart enough to read defenses then consistently use their speed, height or other intangibles to get open while having great hands. Is that too much to ask for? lol

  20. macspak says:

    Why are we including Slater as a WR? He is a Special Teamer plain and simple and nobody should be including him in a WR analysis.

    • MaineMan says:

      Agree 1000%. Slater’s uni number makes him a WR and also allows him to play in the secondary, if needed. But he’s listed as a WR on the roster only because the NFL has no official positional designation to cover what he actually does. Pretty much every NFL team has a ST-Captain/specialist on-field coordinator/QB of special teams units – and has had for a couple decades now. You’d think by now the NFL would’ve come up with a provision for this. I mean, there are positional designations for punter, kicker and even long-snapper now (there didn’t used to be).

      In any case, all of us really need to stop including Slater as anything but WR-in-name-only in any roster analysis.

    • OliverThomas says:

      Matthew Slater is undoubtedly known for his work as a gunner on special teams, but he practices with the wide receivers and has played 209 career snaps there over his NFL career, according to Pro Football Focus.

      • MaineMan says:

        Really? That 209 snaps over six seasons works out to a whopping 35 snaps at WR per year or about 2 snaps per game. And in those 209 snaps, he’s been targeted maybe a dozen times, total (with one catch)? During the last few games of the 2011 season, Slater probably filled in at safety for +/- 100 snaps and posted 15 total defensive tackles and a forced fumble. Does that make him a DB?

        Seriously, he’s a special-teams specialist/utility player and not a WR in any realistic sense. Of course, he fills in at WR in practices, and probably a bit at DB on occasion, as well. He is a pretty decent downfield blocker and a very good tackler, after all. But, special teams units aren’t running constantly during all practices, AFAIK, and it doesn’t seem realistic to think that he just stands around on the sideline waiting for the ST portion to commence – he’s going to be out on the field helping out in SOME capacity.

        Anyway, my point is that he doesn’t contribute anything meaningful in real games as a receiving target, and it seems silly to think that he’s taking a roster spot away from a “legit” 6th WR or to think that the Pats would cut him just to add one. To include him in an analysis of the WR Corps just seems like so much unnecessary typing.

  21. steve earle says:

    Lots of excitement in the RB position too. Also like to complement Kevan on his research back on Earth , Wind and Fire. Never saw it laid out as clearly before. Still, like Jack replied Travon Martin, and add Ras I, Ron Brace and a few others means there is room to improve and some questioning is fair.

  22. Dylan.C says:

    Without the amount of guaranteed money in his contract isn’t Lafell basically a lock on the roster?

    I hope they can somehow keep both Thompkins and Boyce on the roster, maybe they will use the extra roster spot from Brandon Browner the first 4 games to have some kind of extended trial period for the WR battle to play out.

  23. steve earle says:

    Have to love the depth and potential at wr this year, very exciting possibilitys but I’m taking the wait and see position so far.

  24. J H TARBORO says:

    Oliver, very good article and you can write one for every position because they’ll be hotly contested at every position. Do we all forget that Edelman wasn’t suppose to be that guy but he stepped up, this year BB doesn’t care what your name is, can you make plays! With all the new receivers in camp last year and the “B” vets, it made Amendola and Edelman look like stars amongst them, this will be different year and most of the receivers this year run sub 4.5 40yds and can catch! No easy win for Amendola and Edelman.

  25. mick says:

    I have very high expectation of Jeremy Gallon. This is crazy, but I’m predicting 66 catches with 3 scores for this rookie. In college, this guy just knew how to get wide open against good college cornerbacks. I think he will do the same against linebackers and safeties in the NFL.

  26. Jim R says:

    I believe that edelman and amendola have role reversals this year. If Lafell makes the team he has a big impact, Learning the playbook and gaining trust from TB12 will determine his fate. Boyce and Dobson should be in the 40-60 catch range which is outstanding for this offense. What will help this group is (besides a healthy Gronk) is the emergence of DJ Williams, Hooman or Justin Jones.
    After reflecting on the draft and F/A I think the season unfolds this way. Defense will be on the field a lot less than last year. A lot of 3 and outs. They will be able to dominate most offenses and frustrate the really good ones.
    Offense looks like they will try and wear teams down going from hurry up to ground and pound. Lot more opportunities for TB12

  27. Jack says:

    The most impactful / important receiver on the list jumps out as being Aaron Dobson. Actually, I didn’t realize he was a tall as he is at 6′ 3″. He seemed to be really catching on to the offense before he went down with the foot injury. If he comes back healthy, and stays healthy, he could combine with Gronk to create two big, effective targets for Brady, particularly in the red zone.

    While they overpaid for Amendola, he’s good insurance for Edelman. With their respective injury histories, the Pats should get a full season between the two of them.

    I think Boyce showed enough promise last year to make the roster. There is the fact that he has sub-4.4. speed and a silly 3-cone time of 6.68. He showed progress at the end of the year, and made 4 catches in his last game before being hurt. Unless he has a really poor training camp, or one of the other prospects has a blow-your-doors-off training camp, I think he makes the squad. They’re not going to cut a 4-round pick in season 2, not in this case.

    You have to pull for Kenbrell Thompkins. What an inspiration he is for younger kids coming from his kind of background. He also was plagued by injuries.

    Galon and all these other guys are intriguing as well. I’ll guess we’ll see how it plays out.

  28. Stephen J says:

    Does it seem like there is a competition within a competition. It seems like to me that the main competition isn’t necessarily that of receiving but of special teams and returning.

    Also what are the other intangibles that dont get nearly enough attention ie precise route runner, smart/instintive, shifty, reliable hands, durable, great vision, one who has great attention to detail and a great work ethic one who doesn’t get by on talent alone. Who has these attributes and who doesn’t. I don’t want to know ONLY about stats speed or height.

  29. Trev says:

    I bet we keep Edelman, Dobson, Amendola, Slater, Boyce, LaFell, and Harrison. Gallon to the Practice Squad.

    • Stephen J says:

      I’m thinking Lafell and Harrison are fighting for the same roster spot. I like both for different reasons but believe Lafell wins out. Also not sure Gallon makes it to the PS. I’m thinking its going to be between him and Boyce. I like Boyce’s speed (not necessarily how he uses it) and his Special Teams use but unless he makes a jump and has put it together I would prefer Gallon and his intangibles

    • MaineMan says:

      Until/unless the Pats acquire someone like Keller and/or Finley (healthy versions), I’m shifting LaFell out of the WR column over to the TE column for his proven ability to operate effectively from the in-line and H-back positions. Slater isn’t, and never has been, in the mix on WR decisions – he’s a special-teamer, period.

      That leaves Edelman and Dobson as probable locks, Amendola and Thompkins as likely locks.

      Boyce didn’t do a whole lot in 2013, but still more than David Givens did as a rookie in 2002, and he turned out okay. Nevertheless, I’d say he’s on the bubble along with Harrison and the rest.

      Harrison had his *first ever* actual practices with the Pats during the recent rookie camp and the past couple days of OTAs, so all we have to judge him by is his drill numbers from over a year ago. He’s had a year of team meetings, playbook and film study under the tutelage of the Pats coaches, but I don’t think that puts him very far ahead of Gallon and the other newbies, much less ahead of Thompkins.

      Gallon is a sophisticated and artful route-runner already (probably ahead of both Boyce and Harrison) and is an excellent athlete. I’m guessing that he shows himself to be a highly reliable target quicker than the others, but he *is* very small (measured 5070 at both his All-Star game and the Combine) and may not have much upside, meaning he’s already pretty good, but perhaps as good as he’ll ever be.

      Johnson, Van Hooser and Wiggins are all bigger than Gallon and excellent athletes as well, but are also raw as route-runners (Johnson got consistently destroyed by press-coverage, e.g.) and will need time to develop. One of them may make the PS, but maybe none of them. Dunn has raw speed and some obvious return chops, but he’ll need to demonstrate a whole lot more than that and he hasn’t yet in his previous NFL stops.

      My guess is that Boyce, Harrison and Gallon are competing for the 5th-and-final WR spot and the rest of the prospects are on the field for what amounts to an extended tryout – or are simply camp fodder.

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