Patriots draft positional preview: Wide receiver
PATRIOTS DRAFT POSITIONAL PREVIEW: WIDE RECEIVER
The Patriots have been neutered at the top of the 2016 NFL Draft but they aren’t wholly impotent with 11 total picks including four in the first 100 picks. Enjoy this Patriots-centric look at the team’s positional status, the best available players at each position and which direction the Patriots may be inclined to go when they are on the clock.
PATRIOTS NEED LEVEL: 6
This looks like more of a long-term need than an immediate one for the Patriots. Their top three pass catchers -- Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan -- seem to be locked in for 2016, with the versatile Hogan potentially poised to take the outside receiver role once occupied by Brandon LaFell. Nate Washington, Keshawn Martin, Aaron Dobson and Chris Harper will be given the opportunity to make an impact, but it would come as no surprise if coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio opted to add another receiver in the draft. It will be interesting to see if the team decides that this is the year that it begins the search for its slot man of the future. Both Edelman and Amendola are under contract through 2017, but both will be 30 when this season begins, and both have racked up their share of injuries with the way they fearlessly play the position. Given that the inside receiver spot is one of the most important -- and annually one of the most productive -- positions in the Patriots offense, it might make sense to re-stock there.
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss, 6-foot-2, 221 pounds
With the size, instincts and ball skills to be the No. 1 receiver off the board this year, it's Treadwell's speed that has everyone talking. He ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at the combine, which could cause him to slide on draft day.
Corey Coleman, Baylor, 5-11, 194 pounds
You like your receivers explosive? Coleman is your kind of guy. His burst off the line of scrimmage allows him to get open quickly and his long speed will make him a down-the-field threat wherever he ends up.
Josh Doctson, TCU, 6-2, 202 pounds
Doctson will be an immediate red-zone favorite for his new quarterback as his body control and ability to maintain concentration while airborne makes his catch radius one of the best in this year's draft class.
Will Fuller, Notre Dame, 6-0, 186
His speed (4.32-second 40-yard dash) makes him a high-upside prospect who will "take the top off the defense" when he's told to go vertical. But his hands need to become more consistent before he's a reliable threat in the NFL.
Michael Thomas, Ohio State, 6-3, 212 pounds
Recording 54 catches for 799 yards and nine touchdowns last season, Thomas was Ohio State's top outside-the-numbers option. His game still needs some polish but his physical characteristics make him a potential No. 1 for a club that can coach him up.
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma, 5-10, 194 pounds
Perhaps the best route-runner in the class, Shepard would be a steal for the Patriots if he were to fall to pick No 60. Wherever he lands, he seems poised to become a productive slot receiver right off the bat.
Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh, 6-1, 197 pounds
A sure-handed receiver who saw some time as a running back in college, Boyd has a knack for getting open without being one of the hands-down best athletes at the position. That he's returned punts and kicks for Pitt may make him even more attractive in the eyes of Belichick and Caserio.
Braxton Miller, Ohio State, 6-1, 201 pounds
The traits are there. He has the size and dynamic physical ability to thrive as a pro. But the former Buckeyes quarterback is still incredibly raw as a route-runner after spending just one collegiate season at receiver.
Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan, 5-10, 177 pounds
Braverman didn't see the best competition on a weekly basis, but two of the best games he had in his career came against Ohio State and Michigan State. A prototypical slot, Braverman has the quickness and route-running savvy to get open underneath. Then once he has the ball in his hands, he's a crafty YAC machine.
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers, 6-0, 211 pounds
The connection between Carroo's alma mater and the Patriots is well-established, but he's a player who would be worthy of attention regardless of where he spent his college career. A big-bodied receiver with dependable hands, Carroo could play both inside and out, and he's shown a willingness to contribute as a blocker in the running game.