Ever since Randy Moss left, the New England Patriots have not had an abundance of tall, deep-threat receivers. For some reason, Bill Belichick and company like having smaller wideouts working in their system, and it looks like that is what we will see again in 2014.
As of right now, the depth chart on the outside has Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Aaron Dobson all at the top. Then comes Brandon LaFell, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce, and Jeremy Gallon. There is plenty of talent in that group, but not much size. And in the regular season, that is fine. Tom Brady is such a good quarterback, that he knows how to manipulate the middle of the defense with these smaller guys, and ultimately put up enough points to win. However come playoff time, when the quality of the opposing defenses increase, that won’t cut it. You need someone that has a natural mismatch to go to, specifically on the outside.
This is where second year man Aaron Dobson comes into the picture.
Dobson had a rough rookie season, missing four games due to a foot injury, and totaling only 519 yards, on 37 receptions. But he showed flashes of that vertical threat we all thought he could be, specifically in that week nine win against the Steelers. Dobson caught five balls for 130 yards, and two touchdowns, including an 81 yard bomb. In this outing, he showed that he has the explosiveness to blow past defenders, and then use his size to go up and make a play. If New England wants to advance deep into this year’s playoffs, they are going to need Dobson to have a big year, which means gaining a solid chemistry with Brady, and more importantly, staying healthy.
Overall, the Pats are in pretty good position at receiver for 2014. Yes, they once again lack size, but they make up for it in quickness, and rapport with Brady. I think Edelman will have another huge year, and Danny Amendola, yes, Danny Amendola will absolutely explode. He took a lot of heat in 2013, but a lot of it wasn’t deserved. He played through a tough groin injury throughout most of the season, and still managed to play well. There were plenty of times where he got himself open, but for some reason, his quarterback didn’t throw him the football. I am a big fan of Amendola, and I have a feeling that anyone that anyone who bad-mouthed him last year will regret that in 2014.
Another interesting battle that will undoubtedly be fun this summer, is the competition between Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Jeremy Gallon. I think New England will carry at the most seven receivers, which means one of these three guys would have to be let go. I personally think it will be Thompkins. This kid worked his tail off last year, but it was pretty obvious that he just doesn’t have what it takes to become a real game-changer in this league. That cannot be said about Boyce, and possibly Gallon as well. Before getting injured, Boyce exploded off of my television screen, and I really began to take a liking to his game. He is small, but man can he fly.
This bunch will definitely take their fair share of criticism this year, but I like what I see right now. Hopefully they produce in the coming months.