The main story coming from the New England Patriots this offseason was the retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski. The 2nd greatest receiver Tom Brady has ever had on his team (Randy Moss being number 1). Brady has often times has to turn no name receivers into top guys due to lack of receiver depth. But as Brady is now into his forties, it seems receivers are more valuable to the team than they have been in years past.
With no real #1 option at tight end, the Patriots will rely more heavily on their wide receivers. This Patriots receiving core has good veteran presence, and a potentially deep group of rookies and young guys. There veterans consist of Julian Edelman, Demaryious Thomas, and Josh Gordon. Julian Edelman is not only one of Tom Brady’s best friends, but he is Brady’s go to receiver. He’s been mister reliable for the past 5 or so years. Coming off a super bowl MVP performance, O wouldn’t expect any drop off in his numbers.
Two of the teams biggest question marks are Gordon and Thomas. Gordon is waiting to hear from the NFL on his reinstatement. And Thomas is coming off of an achilles injury he suffered last season. A tough injury to recover from especially as a receiver on the wrong side of 30 in the NFL. If (and it’s a big if) both of these guys join Julian Edelman as the main targets for Tom Brady, the Patriots should be in a good position for this season.
On the other hand, if only one of Gordon or Thomas are playing this year, or neither, it will be up the young group of receivers on the Patriots. Rookie N’keal Harry and Philip Dorsett seem to be the two guys with the most to prove this year. Harry was the Patriots first round pick in this years draft, and that means he is expected to produce. The Pats aren’t in the position to be waiting and developing guys slowly, they are still in championship mode. Dorsett is a guy who seems to have been in the league for a while now, but he’s still 26. He had 3 touchdowns for the Pats last year in minimal role, but depending on who starts the season on the roster and healthy, he could see an increase of targets.
Depth has always been a concern for the Patriots, next man up is the motto. Undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers has been impressing during training camp, and turned that into a two touchdown performance in their first preseason game. There’s also Julian Edelman 2.0 in Braxton Berrios, the second year slot receiver. A guy that is fighting to make the team, and is coming back from an injury ridden first season.
As the Patriots await to see who makes the final 53 man roster, there is potential for an extremely talented core of receivers. It’s not a guarantee for them, but if the cards all fall into place, fans could be in for a show.