The New England Patriots will have gone through a bit of a transformation at the wide receiver position from last season by the time they kick off in Week One. Gone are Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola. Now in the mix are Jordan Matthews and Cordarrelle Patterson. In addition, they will welcome back Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell. Both of whom missed all of 2017 with injuries suffered in the offseason.
And, of course, also returning are Chris Hogan, Philip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, and Matthew Slater. Needless, to say, the Patriots appear to have plenty of depth, despite the loss of the aforementioned, Amendola and Cooks. However, as Patriots fans know, depth is only good if you stay healthy. As they saw last season when Edelman and Mitchell didn’t take a single snap.
The Patriots generally will carry five receivers on the roster. This does not include Slater, who is listed as a receiver on the roster but is strictly a special teams player. So, taking into account Slater as the defacto sixth receiver on this roster, the locks would presumably be Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Malcolm Mitchell. Which leaves Philip Dorsett, Jordan Matthews, Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Braxton Berrios, and Cody Hollister fighting for the two remaining spots.
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The odds of Dorsett sticking on the roster probably increased with the departure of Brandin Cooks. The two were nearly identical players with Dorsett being the poor man’s version of Cooks both literally and figuratively. However, the presence of both Patterson and Matthews could ultimately determine whether Dorsett is on the roster.
Patterson may be one of the most intriguing parts to this Patriots offense. Originally a first-round selection of the Minnesota Vikings in 2013 (a pick acquired from the Patriots), Patterson spent the first four seasons of his career with the Vikings before spending last season with the Oakland Raiders. Since being in the league, he has underwhelmed from the receiver position, failing to surpass 500 yards in any year. Despite being active for every game of his career thus far. However, what Patterson lacked in the receiving game, he certainly made up for in the kick return game.
|4 yr||4 yr||MIN||64||22||134||4075||5||109||30.4||5733|
|1 yr||1 yr||OAK||16||2||19||538||0||49||28.3||968|
Three times in his five seasons in the league, Patterson has led the league in kick return average. In those three seasons (’13, ’15, ’16) his average surpassed the 30-yard mark. Last season in Oakland, Patterson sported a 28.3 return average, something a Patriot player hasn’t sniffed since LeGarrette Blount surprised the team with a 29-yard average just a few seasons ago. Ideally, you will see Patterson be the primary kick returner for the Patriots who would rather not have Edelman back there on a consistent basis. Especially coming off a torn ACL.
Matthews may have the highest ceiling among the new faces in the receivers room. The Vanderbilt product was drafted by the Eagles in 2014 and played in all but two games in his three seasons in Philadelphia. Last offseason, he was shipped to Buffalo in exchange for cornerback, Ronald Darby and appeared in just 10 games for the Bills. He caught just 25 passes for 282 yards. A far cry from his averages his first three seasons.
However, coming into 2018, Matthews is presumably healthy and brings a bit of size as a 6-foot-3 receiver to the group. In his three seasons in Philadelphia, Matthews caught 225 passes for 2,673 yards and 19 of his 20 career touchdowns. He surpassed 800 yards receiving in each of those three seasons with the Eagles. Matthews is a smart football player who has good route running ability and soft hands. In addition, he can line up at multiple spots and has been touted as a solid blocker. Bottom line, he checks all the boxes when it comes to prosperity under Bill Belichick. Now, we must see his chemistry grow with Tom Brady for all of it to come to fruition.
And, of course, there is this year’s Austin Carr in Braxton Berrios. Berrios, out of Miami, draws instant comparisons to Wes Welker and has become the offseason fan favorite in short order. And when you read his scouting report you understand why. According to his NFL Draft Profile, here are his strengths:
- Early burst into routes can turn into vertical separation if cornerbacks underestimate him
- Rhythmic route-runner who thrives as the pattern progresses
- Loses very little quickness from breaks and stems
- Play speed stays locked in
- Routes are crisp and manipulate defenders
- Makes quality route adjustments in space
- Sticky hands make a quarterback’s job easier
- Locks in on throws with laser-sharp focus
- Possesses impressive ability to make sudden body adjustments to dig out low throws and balls behind him
- Will lay his body on the line to make the catch
- Unafraid to work the middle of the field
- Offers punt return ability
Again, if we didn’t know any better, you would think this was a scouting report on Welker. Expect Berrios to get plenty of attention throughout the offseason. Berrios will be competing with Riley McCarron, another 5-foot-9, quick slot-receiver who is in his second season in New England after breaking into the league with Houston.
Needless to say, it will be an interesting summer in Foxboro watching the receivers do battle. Despite the loss of two really good players in Cooks and Amendola, the Patriots, once again are entering the offseason with plenty of talented pass catchers. This is even before taking into account the backs and tight ends.
— Full Press Patriots (@FPC_Patriots) May 30, 2018