The New England Patriots have done some interesting things at the wide receiver position through OTAs and minicamp, as they are giving less-heralded players on the roster more reps. Is Michael Jenkins this year’s Jabar Gaffney story? Jenkins is getting plenty of reps in offseason workouts, but it’s hard to envision him making the 53-man roster over younger wideouts like Donald Jones and even Lavelle Hawkins. However, ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss tell us that not only has Jenkins “usually” been a fixture with the New England Patriots top group of receivers this offseason thus far, but he has also been a “consistent performer”.
Jenkins is a 30-year-old veteran wide receiver who is best known by the nickname “Molasses Mike” due to his lack of speed. A solid red zone target due to his size, Jenkins’s best asset is his ability to be a possession receiver and move the chains. He isn’t a bad player and could make the 53-man roster, but he would have to continue to be a big performer in training camp in order to capture the spot over younger receivers with more upside.
Aaron Dobson has been a minor disappointment in offseason workouts so far, but that’s because the New England Patriots second-round pick out of Marshall has been slow to develop. Things don’t develop quickly for a rookie wide receiver, and Dobson isn’t one of the exceptions to that rule. As Tom Brady said, mid-August is usually when he feels more comfortable with his receivers, so the rapport with Dobson should be better judged at that time. The issue, though, is that Dobson has dropped plenty of passes in minicamp and OTAs, but he has made some highlight-reel catches that were common for him at Marshall.
At this point in time, I still have Dobson penciled in as the “X” receiver, and I don’t have Jenkins as a top three guy. But if he continues to make good on the reps, then he should be able to capture one of the New England Patriots final slots on the 53-man roster for the wide receiver position. We shouldn’t read into the first-team reps given to Jenkins, but we should read into the fact that Jenkins is cashing in on the opportunities and might be a veteran surprise for the Pats.