New England Patriots Draft Needs: Wide Receiver

Over the next few days I will be considering the biggest draft day needs for the New England Patriots and assessing what players could possibly get drafted to address those needs.  Today’s entry will focus on wide receiver.  The previous entries can be seen here:

Defensive Line:

Outside Linebacker:

Some don’t consider wide receiver a position that needs to be addressed early in the 2011 NFL Draft, but I think that by the end of last season and in the playoffs, the Pats’ lack of a big-play wideout hindered their offense at times.  Wes Welker is the best slot wide receiver in the NFL, and Deion Branch performed better than I expected on the outside.  Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are very good young threats at tight end, but Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman, and Taylor Price have not shown the ability to be reliable targets.  Here’s a look at a few guys that could be new additions to the Patriots come 2011:

Name: Julio Jones

Position: WR

School: Alabama

Year: Junior

Size: 6’4”, 220 lbs

Projected Round: 1st

Analysis: I can dream, can’t I?  Although spending the 17th pick on a wide receiver may be out of the question for the Pats, if Jones slips to their spot, his talent alone may be too much to ignore.  There isn’t much to dislike about a kid that is 6’4”, 220lbs and runs somewhere between a 4.4 – 4.5.  In 2010, Jones grabbed 78 passes, for 1,133 and 7 touchdowns.  Not bad for a kid playing in a run happy offense.  Jones would provide the physical presence and down field playmaking that the Patriots’ receiving corps is currently lacking.  Jones needs to become more consistent with using his hands to catch the ball instead of his body.  A.J. Green is the obvious top receiver in this draft, but Jones isn’t far behind.

Name: Jonathan Baldwin

Position: WR

School: Pittsburgh

Year: Junior

Size: 6’5”, 230 lbs

Projected Round: 1-2

Analysis: Another big receiver should be around when the Patriots pick at 17, and maybe even at 28 or 33.  Jonathan Baldwin had scholarships to play both football and basketball in college, obviously choosing football.  His size alone makes him an intriguing prospect, but he has an uncanny ability to go up and get the football over defenders.  Having a good basketball pedigree is always a huge plus for receivers and tight ends in my mind.  Even at 230 lbs, Baldwin has been clocked near 4.45 in the 40.  Underachieved in 2010 with only 53 catches for 822 yards and 5 touchdowns, but much of his underproduction can be blamed on shaky quarterback play.  Had some off of the field issues, so Baldwin needs to mature a bit.  Talent-wise, Baldwin is a top flight prospect.

Name: Torrey Smith

Position: WR

School: Maryland

Year: Junior

Size: 6’1”, 205 lbs

Projected Round: 1-2

Analysis: Smith may wind up being the fastest receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft.  In 2010, Smith caught 67 passes for 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns.  Smith is also considered to be one of the best return men in the country.  Smith sometimes relies on his body too often to make catches, but his size and strength allow him the ability to separate from defenders and make catches over the top of undersized defensive backs.  Smith has the rare ability to be able to run fast in a straight line, cut with one step, and get off of press coverage on the line of scrimmage.  He has good vision after the catch.  Smith is a prototypical boom-or-bust prospect.  Similar qualities to former Terrapin Darrius Heyward-Bey, without the low 4.3 speed.  40 time may wind up being near the 4.37 region.

Name: Austin Pettis

Position: WR

School: Boise State

Year: Senior

Size: 6’3”, 205 lbs

Projected Round: 3-4

Analysis: Pettis’ production over his four years as a Boise State Bronco can’t be denied.  Pettis caught at least 46 passes in each of his four seasons.  In 2010, Pettis hauled in 71 passes for 951 yards and 10 touchdowns.  Coming into the 2010 season, Pettis was considered to possibly be a first round selection in the 2011 draft, but as usual Boise State players drop down draft boards.  Pettis’ 40 time is rumored to be around 4.5, but shows the ability to separate in game film.  His size makes him a big target for quarterbacks, and he isn’t afraid to go over the middle.  Pettis has great hands, and would be a steal for a team looking for a possession receiver in the 3rd or 4th round.

Name: Jeremy Kerley

Position: WR

School: TCU

Year: Senior

Size: 5’10”, 192 lbs

Projected Round: 4th

Analysis: Unlike the previous four wide receivers that were mentioned, Kerley has more “Patriot-like” size at 5’10” and 192 lbs.  What separated Kerley from many other receivers is his quickness.  With a 40 time rumored to be around 4.5, Kerley isn’t going to stretch the field often, but his quick feet and solid hands make him a nightmare to cover on short routes.  Kerley also possesses good return skills, which can be telling about his ability to see the holes and make yards after the catch.  Kerley caught 56 balls for 575 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at TCU.  His draft position is heavily dependant on his 40 time.  I wouldn’t mind seeing Kerley in a Pats uniform if he was a fourth round pick or later.


2 Responses

  1. […] to get back into it.  Marshon was rolling.  Kadeem Batts was battling for every […] mattyoshowNew England Patriots Draft Needs: Wide Receiver February 19, 2011Over the next few days I will be considering the biggest draft day needs for the […]

  2. […] to get back into it.  Marshon was rolling.  Kadeem Batts was battling for every […] mattyoshowNew England Patriots Draft Needs: Wide Receiver February 19, 2011Over the next few days I will be considering the biggest draft day needs for the […]

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