The Patriots are known to load up at a certain position before training camp begins only to dump most of those players before the regular season. I actually think this is a very good tactic used by Bill Belichick and company because I think that it forces everybody competing at that position to play at their absolute best. One position that the Pats are particular notorious at loading up at, is wide receiver. They have once again loaded up on receivers this year, and I will give my prediction at who they will keep for the regular season.
1. Danny Amendola
I think this one is pretty obvious. With Wes Welker leaving via free agency, the Patriots need another guy that can play in the slot, and Amendola is about as close as you can get to another Welker. However he is not nearly as durable as Welker was, and he is going to have to prove that he can stay healthy while in New England. The slot receiver is a key component to the Patriots attack, and I expect Amendola not only to make the team, but to have a big year in New England.
2. Julian Edelman
Edelman is a very dynamic receiver when healthy. He has not been able to stay healthy over the last few seasons and he is actually dealing with a foot issue right now. I think that if he is able to get back to 100% he will be a big contributor to the Patriots next year. He is a very good punt returner, and he uses those skills on offense as well by getting in the open field and making guys miss on his way to extra yardage.
3. Aaron Dobson
The Patriots selected Dobson in the second round of this years draft, and after watching some film on Dobson I am really excited about this guy. He has everything needed to be a top outside receiver in this game. He has the size, the hands, the speed, and the brains. I think that if the Patriots don’t rush him into anything, he will turn out to be a very good vertical threat for Tom Brady and the Pats.
4. Michael Jenkins
Jenkins no longer has all of the physical tools to be a great receiver, but he is a veteran guy that knows the game, and that will come in handy to the Pats with all of these young guys coming in. I think Jenkins may not have much of an impact on the field, but I think he will be very valuable for the Pats off of the field, because of his ability to teach the younger guys.
5. Donald Jones
I think that Jones is definitely a guy the Patriots should keep because of his big play ability, and he can also be a solid special-teams player. Everybody that knows the Patriots knows that Belichick loves versatile players, and I think that Jones is one of them. He also has a lot of potential as a receiver (as he showed against the Pats while on the Bills) and he may end up being a key player on the Patriots offense.
6. Josh Boyce
Boyce was picked in the fourth round by New England in this years draft, and while I don’t think he will make much of an impact this year for the Pats, I think he will be important for them down the road. He has a lot of talent, but I think he must be developed more before playing on the same field as Tom Brady.
7. Matthew Slater
Obviously Slater is not on this list because of his “electric offense talent”, it is because Slater is one of the top special-teams players in the NFL and he is very valuable to the Patriots team. He rarely gets any snaps at receiver, but he more than makes up for it when it comes to his special-teams play.
I know that seven receivers seems like a bit too much to carry for the Pats, but I really think that all seven of these guys are worth keeping. Because of this, I also think that New England will not be able to keep five RB’s and the odd man out may be LeGarrette Blount. With the top two receivers of last year’s team gone (Welker and Brandon Lloyd) the Patriots may have to make up for it by using a “committee” sort of thing. The only way they can do this is by keeping seven receivers on the team, and these seven guys are the players that I think will make the biggest impact for this team.