Kenbrell Thompkins looks like the second-best wide receiver on the New England Patriots, and Thompkins is proof that some great talents simply fall through the cracks and go undrafted. He had a huge, 100-yard receiving performance against the Detroit Lions, and it was easily the brightest spot for the Patriots in a game filled with not-so-bright spots. Thompkins has sewn up the “X” receiver gig in two-base sets, and he looks poised to be the second-most targeted receiver on the team. The former Cincinnati Bearcats star does it all: he gets off the line of scrimmage well, can stretch the field, has good quickness, can make the tough catches, and he seems to communicate well with Tom Brady and run good routes. Thompkins looks like a reliable receiver on the outside who can provide significantly more playmaking ability.
Bill Belichick was asked about Thompkins’s ability to get off the line of scrimmage (something he and Aaron Dobson were praised for early in camp by Aqib Talib) and said this, “I think that’s an area that all rookie receivers need to work on and haven’t had a lot of experience with. There isn’t a whole lot of press coverage in college. There are a couple teams that do it but there’s not a whole lot of it. I think that’s something that any young receiver needs a lot of work on. I would say the same thing for the defensive backs. He would certainly go in that category; I think they all do.”
While I love Dobson’s upside and thought he played very well against the Lions, Kenbrell Thompkins has essentially locked up the competition right now. Dobson could usurp him as the “X” once he gets things down due to Dobson’s big-play ability, but Thompkins is simply the more reliable and better player right now.
Belichick was asked about what makes a player good at release off the LOS (that’s a really tough question), “We’ll just have to see where that goes. Like you said, he made a couple nice plays last night. But working against different corners, different skill sets, he just has to match up individually. Whether it’s quickness or speed or size or whatever it happens to be, technique, there are different ways to win out there and may not be all the same depending on the defender he’s facing or the technique that they’re playing. That’s why players have to be good at more than one thing or have more than one skill or eventually then that one thing gets shut down by a particular technique or a certain type of player and then that player loses his effectiveness. For KT, he just needs to work on the whole process out there against different guys and different techniques and being able to deal with whatever the challenge is that he faces on the perimeter, be it the individual player or the technique that the guy is playing. ”