(This is another entry into Musket Fire’s ‘Positional Breakdown’ feature.)
Under Contract for 2013:
Brandon Lloyd, Matthew Slater, Kamar Aiken
Lloyd was brought in by the Patriots to bring an outside the numbers presence that had not been there since Randy Moss. While a lot of people say Lloyd did not have a good season, I disagree. He did have a very inconsistent year but he did make a lot of plays outside of the numbers that helped take some pressure off of Wes Welker and the TE’s. He did receive mostly one on one coverage throughout the year and I think he did a good job for the most part of taking advantage of that. He finished with 74 catches for 911 yards and 4 TD’s. That is pretty good production considering you are on the same offense that has Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, and Rob Gronkowski (granted the TE’s were not healthy for the whole season). Lloyd is a very good outside receiver but he can not bear the burden alone, and that is why the Pats need to get another vertical threat to help out Lloyd.
Slater is really only a receiver for depth chart purposes. He is an exclusive special teamer, he rarely if ever plays at receiver for the Patriots. He is a very fast guy so occasionally he will run a ‘go’ route for them to try and get a quick score or something of that matter. Slater is a very good special teamer, but he is not a real threat at receiver.
Aiken came on at the end of the year more for depth issues, and if the Pats do not add some receivers they will have to keep Aiken because they are really short on receivers. Aiken is a prospect that can be developed eventually but as of right now will probably not make much of an impact.
The main thing the Patriots need to do for 2013 is resign Wes Welker. He is the second most important part of the Pats offense (behind Brady). Without him Tom Brady does not have his security blanket he has had over the last 5 seasons. Welker is almost impossible to cover one on one over the middle, he is also one of the toughest and most durable guys in the NFL. The Pats also should try and resign Julian Edelman, he is very athletic and makes a huge impact in special teams as well as on offense. The last thing the Patriots need to do in the offseason is get another vertical threat to help Brandon Lloyd outside of the numbers. They may go to the draft to assess this need or maybe they will turn to free agency. Dwayne Bowe may be someone the Pats should go after to help make their offense oven more lethal. Bottom line is, the Patriots need to add some receivers for next season because they are extremely thin there as of right now.