Aug 16, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (85) before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Throughout April, June and July I gave you my prediction for the New England Patriots wide receiver, running back and tight end corps, and giving you my reasoning for why I picked each player. With just a few days left till the Patriots kick their season off against the Buffalo Bills, I would like to go back and review these decisions. I’m linking the previous posts, so give them a quick look over, and go right ahead and judge my decision making! So lets jump right into things, and review my pick for the first prediction article I did, “Predicting the Wide Receiver Corps”.
Alright, the wide receiver piece was the earliest of the three articles, and it really shows the most. I hit it on the Danny Amendola positioning, but then again I think everyone even remotely connected to the Patriots knew how this one was going to play out. Amendola showed that he was capable of replacing Wes Welker, and maybe be even better. Amendola was a lock the entire way through, so lets move on to the next one. I got it right on the Julian Edelman pick, but his placement is off. I had Edelman pegged as the number two guy, pretty much because he was the only returning wide receiver. With the emergence of the rookies, he’s been dropped as far back as the number four slot, but regardless, I got that one right as well. Up next is rookie Aaron Dobson, who I believe I got in the right spot, at the third receiver. Dobson was good in the postseason, showed some very good chemistry with Brady, but ended up being overtaken by UFDA Kenbrell Thompkins. Alright, this next one is the first (of a few) that I got outright wrong, Donald Jones coming in at the number four slot. I thought Donald Jones was going to be a very nice addition to a receiver deprived team, and boy was I wrong. Jones was cut very early in the preseason, as the Patriots had really liked the development of the young receivers on the team. Jones also cost a lot more than a guy like Thompkins, and if Kenbrell was already further along than Jones AND cost less, then it was a no brainer for the Patriots to cut him. The next guy seems to be in about the perfect place for the time being, Josh Boyce. I was hoping Boyce would be further along in his development, but with Dobson and Thompkins ready right now, Boyce can hang back, learn a bit more, and really show up later in the season. The final guy, oh man, Michael Jenkins. This one is a double whammy, because I actually picked Jenkins to make the team, but I also picked six receivers. Jenkins had NFL experience, and that was the only argument I could give you, but this had obviously become a non-issue after the first preseason game. So I felt this one was alright, I really missed on Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins, and totally didn’t see Kenbrell Thompkins coming, even though I did mention him at the start of the article, then again I don’t think anyone thought Kenbrell would light the world on fire all the way back in late April.
The next piece was my tight end prediction, “New England Patriots: Predicting the Tight End Corps”, and it was another one that did not account for any big surprises that unfolded, so lets look into this one. The first is one I don’t I should be laughed at for, because no one saw this ordeal coming, Aaron Hernandez comes in first. I had the now ex-Patriot in as the number one tight end because I felt he provided more to the team in terms of versatility than Rob Gronkowski, and of course we knew Hernandez would be ready for the first game of the NFL season. But then we learned the truth about Hernandez, that he was a gang member and had a secret life. Now he’s gone, and the Patriots have a completely different outlook at tight end. Next is Rob Gronkowski, arguably the best tight in the NFL when healthy. Gronk was at no risk of being cut, but the question is alway his health. Fortunately he was on the roster, and not the PUP list meaning he could ready as soon as next week vs the Jets. Next, the Hooman, Michael Hoomanawanui. His name hasn’t gotten any easier to spell, but he does make it in the same place I predicted him in. Hooman provides necessary blocking, and will be a serviceable player. The final guy on this prediction piece is Jake Ballard. Ballard seemed like such a steal a year ago, but I take it recovering from a major knee injury was too much. The one notable exception, save for a quick mention at the bottom of the page, is Zach Sudfeld. Sudfeld has exploded onto the scene much like Kenbrell Thompkins did, and has snagged himself the starting tight end job at least for week one with Gronk out. This was another half decent one, save for the massive blunder of Aaron Hernandez, I got it mostly right.
The last of my three prediction pieces was on the running back situation, “New England Patriots: Predicting the Running Back Corps”. This one was perhaps the easiest set of predictions to make at the time of writing, save for one surprise, that I didn’t fins all that surprising when it happened. But lets start with the first one, Stevan Ridley. Ridley was the incumbent 1000 yard rusher from last year, and he obviously kept his job heading into this year. The next was another obvious one in Shane Vereen, who really started to come into his own in the swing back, third down guy last year, and will take almost all of Danny Woodhead’s snaps. The third man on the dpeth chart was Brandon Bolden, and while Bolden has seemingly had his snaps stolen from him by a newcomer from Tampa Bay, he’s still got some nice potential if he can stay healthy and away from the suspensions. The last guy I had was someone I didn’t really believe in. At the time I thought Washington would make the team, and be the return man, but I also wanted to see LeGarrette Blount make the team. This came true as Blount locked up his spot after game one of the preseason. Washington not making the team wasn’t a huge surprise to me, I was the only Musket Fire writer to predict he wouldn’t in the team prediction piece Hal Bent put together. This was another decent series of prediction as well, as even though I missed on Blount, I was one of only a few who felt like he a place on the team, I just didn’t feel like going that far out on a limb a few months ago.
So overall, I could say I did pretty well getting about 75% of my picks right. Of course I got the big ones, and missed the real surprise in Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld. I had a hunch on Blount, but didn’t have the gall to actually predict it which I regret right now. What did you guys think of these prediction pieces at the time? How well do you think you would’ve done had you done this in April/June/July? Leave some comments in the comment space below.