When I look over the Patriots current roster, the one thing that I can’t get out of my head is the receiver situation. Other than 2006, I don’t think I have ever seen a Patriots receiving core quite like this. To start the season they will be without their five leading receivers from last year, and as of right now, their two starting receivers were not on this team in 2012. However I do see a lot of talent in this group, and that is why I think the wide receiver position will be the most interesting group to watch throughout training camp.
As of right now the Patriots have 12 receivers on the roster. That is obviously going to change as we slowly creep towards opening day, and how these guys perform in training camp will go a long way towards deciding their fate with New England. The way I see it, there are five players that are absolute locks to make the team, Danny Amendola, Josh Boyce, Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, and Matthew Slater. In Amendola’s case you get a very talented receiver that has already proven himself in this league, and he will most likely end up becoming Brady’s new number one guy. Boyce and Dobson are both newly signed rookies, and they boast a lot of potential that we may get glimpses of in this upcoming season. Edelman is Mr. Versatile, and the Pats will need him to step up with the loss of Welker, Hernandez, and temporarily, Gronkowski. Edelman is very talented, and if he can somehow find a way to get through this season totally healthy, I think he will put up some great numbers. As for Slater, he is not much of a receiver but because of what he brings to the table on special teams, he is pretty much a lock to make the team. He is a Pro-Bowler in this area, and the Patriots are lucky to have him on the roster.
This now leaves us with seven receivers fighting for one, possibly two roster spots. This list includes Kamar Aiken, Perez Ashford, Mark Harrison, Lavelle Hawkins, Michael Jenkins, Quentin Sims, and Kenbrell Thompkins.
Out of this group, the only guy that has really proven himself in the NFL is Jenkins. He is a proven veteran that spent some productive years up in Minnesota. The rest of them are either rookies, or young guys that haven’t gotten a chance to break through. Every single one of these players has some talent, and watching them compete throughout camp will be very fun. They all bring a different set of skills to the table, and they will all be desperate to make the team.
My two favorites to make the team are Jenkins and Thompkins. As I just said, Jenkins is a proven vet and I think that Tom Brady would welcome someone with some experience in the league. While Jenkins has certainly lost a lot of his athletic skills, I think he brings enough in that department to complement the mental part of his game to still be effective on the field. Thompkins is an undrafted free agent, and he is a guy that I pointed out earlier in my ‘Four Players To Watch’ piece. He has a lot of raw talent, and if he is developed properly, I think he can make some noise inNew England.
There are a lot of players and positions that will be fun to watch in camp. But in my eyes, the receivers will bring the most excitement, the most flash, and possibly the most drama. When you bring seven guys together to fight for just a couple roster spots, it will not only bring out the best in them, but it will bring out the best in the guys that are already guaranteed a spot on the team. The Patriots are hitting a “refresh button” on their receiving unit, and we don’t know how it is going to pan out for them quite yet. We have been speculating for months now, and it is almost time to see who was right in their assessment of the team, and who was wrong (most of us will end up in this category). When it is all said and done, training camp is a time for players to compete with each other, and this is the most opportune time for coaches to evaluate the players and start to formulate plans for the upcoming season.