One of the persistent thoughts around the NFL entering the 2011 Draft was that the Patriots had a need for a wide receiver who can stretch the field and add a different dynamic to the corps currently on the team. As was the case with the need at pass rusher, the Patriots ignored the wide receiver position in the draft, seemingly electing to go with what they have on the team. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Patriot offense, and more specifically its passing game, wasn’t exactly lacking last season. While the option of adding a veteran wide-out (Ochocinco?) is still there, I’m more inclined to believe that unless the Pats go for a big-ticket WR, they will keep the status quo. While that may be a boring route to take, many forget that there are two young wide receivers who have yet been given the opportunity to really break out and have an impact on the field.
Third-year receiver Brandon Tate and second-year man Taylor Price are two young players that the Pats could be relying on to take the next step and make the future of the WR corps happen now. During his youth football camp Saturday, Wes Welker was asked about the two receivers.
“Oh yeah. Those guys have a lot of ability. They’re still young,” Welker said. “That’s Tate’s first year of fully playing. It takes time for a receiver, especially in this offense. I think it’s always hard, especially in our system, for young drafted receivers to come in and really do something. They really have to do their homework and it’s hard for young guys to understand that. They’ve been great and hopefully we just keep working these guys along and bring them along, and hopefully be a threat for us next year.”
Of course, the lockout may stunt the development of these two receivers. They’re likely going to be missing out on mini-camps and if this idiocy continues throughout the summer, they’ll be missing training camp as well. Let’s try and think happy thoughts and look at each player.
Brandon Tate will be entering his third year with the Patriots. His rookie year in 2009 was cut short due to a knee injury, so 2010 was his rookie season for all intents and purposes. He immediately made an impact on special teams, returning two kick-offs for touchdowns. He started 10 of 16 games on offense and caught 24 passes for 432 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has good speed which, providing he has been keeping up with training during the lockout, should improve somewhat being a year removed from the knee injury. He’s probably the best option currently on the team to be a vertical threat.
Taylor Price got a late start last year after being drafted in the third round due to his college graduation being later than most. Players are not allowed to attend camps until after their college graduates, so he entered training camp behind the eight-ball in a complicated offense. He didn’t make an appearance in a game until the season finale, where he caught 3 passes for 41 yards. Not bad for a first performance. Price is most often compared to former Patriot David Givens in terms of ability and style.
So what do you think? Which if these two is poised to have a breakout season? Vote in the poll below!