Jan 11, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) celebrates with wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) after a touchdown during the first quarter of the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots Final Report Card: Wide Receivers

Jan 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson (17) runs against Denver Broncos free safety Mike Adams (20) in the first half during the 2013 AFC championship playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next couple of days, Musket Fire will be running an end of year, ‘report card’ feature, that will give a final grade to each positional group for the 2013 season. Up next is the receiving corps.

Final Grade: B

This group was extremely tough to grade, mainly because they weren’t very talented to begin with. But they fought through a tough year, and ended up on the receiving end of the 10th best passing attack in the league.

The leader of this unit was obviously Julian Edelman. The former quarterback had an excellent year, catching 105 balls, on 151 targets. His rapport with Tom Brady grew rapidly, and at times it seemed like it was Wes Welker back out on the field in Foxboro. Edelman’s best trait however, is his ability to make people miss after the catch. He is a natural punt returner, and when he gets the ball in open space, it is fun to watch.

After Edelman, there was a bunch of guys that flashed potential in this system, but injuries bogged them down. Danny Amendola was supposed to be Welker’s replacement, but he couldn’t stay on the field. However when he was on the field, I thought he played pretty well, and I think he will play a big part in this offense next season. When healthy, he is one of the most explosive slot receivers in the league, and his straight line speed isn’t too bad. Former Musket Fire editor Joe Soriano, has a great piece on why Amendola’s season wasn’t nearly as disappointing as many think.

Now come the rookies.

Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Josh Boyce all showed that they have the talent to make a difference on this team, but a slow start, combined with injuries made it tough for them to have a breakout year. Dobson definitely has the most potential of the three, as his combination of size and speed could open up the vertical passing game in the years to come. Before he injured his foot, Dobson was the best deep threat Tom Brady had, and as evidenced by his performance against Pittsburgh, he has the talent to do some special things in this league. Thompkins is more like a possession wideout, as his route running is solid, and towards the end of the season, he seemed to be grasping the playbook a little better. However as I just mentioned, he couldn’t stay healthy, and it stunted his growth in year one in the NFL. As for Boyce, I liked what I saw in the few games he was active, and I look forward to seeing what he can do in the future. He is an interesting player, as his speed and explosion make him a deep threat, but at the same time, his size wants to relegate him to the slot.

The last guy that made an impact, was Austin Collie. Collie was cut and signed numerous times throughout the season, and he ended up as the second receiver in the AFC Championship game. Collie is an upcoming free agent, and while I don’t expect the Pats to re-sign initially, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in Foxboro in the near future.

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Tags: Aaron Dobson Austin Collie Danny Amendola Josh Boyce Julian Edelman Kenbrell Thompkins New England Patriots

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