Resetting Patriots depth chart at wide receiver
|08.15.13 at 11:47 am ET|
With the changes over the course of training camp, as well as the continued evolution of many of the rookies on the roster over the last two weeks, here’s a quick reset of the Patriots wide receiver position as it stands right now.
Danny Amendola: Far and away the best and most consistent receiver to this point in training camp, the 27-year-old Amendola will almost certainly enter the 2013 season as the No. 1 receiver, and, providing he stays healthy, should be a lock to catch 80 or more passes in his first season in the New England offense. The 5-foot-11, 188-pounder, who had a career-high 85 receptions for the Rams in 2010, has lined up in multiple positions over the course of training camp, but will get the bulk of his reps in the slot position.
Kenbrell Thompkins: The revelation of camp. This Cincinnati product, an undrafted free agent, has has his rookie moments, but when you look at the totality of his work since the start of training camp, he’s been the best and most consistent first-year receiver on the roster, and is pushing second-round pick Aaron Dobson for the job of No. 2 receiver. At 6-foot and 196 pounds, he’s displayed an impressive ability to compete with defensive backs for balls in the air (showing a strength few New England receivers have flashed in previous years when it comes to jump ball situations), as well as run nice routes and pick up yards after the catch.
Aaron Dobson: The second-round pick out of Marshall has also shown an impressive ability to go up and get it — he fought off three defenders on a deep ball in a practice against Philly — and has a knack for using his basketball-style skill set to his advantage, especially when it comes to body control and fighting for position against defensive backs. (He turned down a hoops scholarship to Northeastern to play football for the Thundering Herd.) At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, he’s also had his share of rookie moments (he’d probably like a mulligan on getting kicked out of practice during the joint practices in Philly), but right now, there’s no reason to think he won’t get a significant number of reps as a rookie, providing he stays healthy.
(Here’s what Aqib Talib had to say about Dobson early in camp: ‘Dobson is pretty good. He has got good releases, and he has definitely got a good set of hands on him. He has got good releases off the line ‘ that’s what I think he does really [well]. Him and [Thompkins] both are pretty good at releasing off the line.’)
Julian Edelman: A fascinating case. The 27-year-old he had a terrific offseason last year, and as a result, got off to an impressive start (10 catches in first two-plus games) before a late September injury. He returned, but a foot issue landed him on season-ending injured reserve. He certainly gets points when it comes to offensive continuity (he’s the only receiver on the roster who caught a pass from Tom Brady last season), but at this point in the summer, he projects as Amendola’s backup, and as a slightly versatile puzzle piece who could provide depth at multiple spots as needed. If everything goes as planned this season for New England, Edelman will make his bones as a punt returner, as position where he remains one of the best in the game.
Josh Boyce: The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder hasn’t made as much of a splash as his rookie counterparts, but the TCU product figures to provide depth at multiple spots over the course of his rookie season, as well as some special teams value. It’s worth noting that he struggled to get on the field throughout the spring sessions because of injury, and got his first real chance to see the field on a consistent basis at the start of training camp. He’s done well since then, but that late start may have put him behind some of his fellow rookies when it comes to his overall development. (For what it’s worth, he’s certainly looked sharp to this point in the summer, particularly when it comes to getting separation from defensive backs in one-on-one drills.)
Matthew Slater: The oldest receiver on the team (he has Edelman and Amendola by a few months), the 6-foot, 210-pound Slater will likely only get a handful of snaps at receiver this season. He remains a legitimate Pro Bowler when it comes to special teams, however, and that’s where he’ll make his money.
In addition, Kamar Aiken, Johnathan Haggerty, Mark Harrison and Quentin Sims all populate the back end of the depth chart. Aiken is a well-respected receiver who spent some time with the new faces helping with the playbook (several guys have mentioned how well Aiken knows the passing game). Meanwhile, the highly regarded Harrison has yet to see the field this summer because of a foot injury. And Sims has the unique status of being Tim Tebow‘s favorite receiver — it seems like whenever Tebow makes a nice connection with a receiver, it’s Sims on the other end. All four of these receivers have practice squad eligibility.