Aug 28, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson (17) catches a pass during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Panthers 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell didn’t play all preseason, and Danny Amendola got very little action as well. Because of this, we got a chance to see the backups up close and personal, and it was an uneven ride to say the least. Brandon Gibson was impressing before his knee gave out and put him on the IR, and the always frustrating Aaron Dobson flashed his talent at times, but also showed why he is in danger of becoming a ‘Belichick Bust’.
Unless LaFell starts the season on the PUP list, here is how I see the Pats’ receiving depth chart shaking out: Edelman, LaFell, Amendola, Dobson, Wayne. I think there is some give-and-take with where Wayne and Dobson end up, but until Wayne gets a littler more time to learn the playbook, I think Dobson gets the slight edge. I did like what I saw from Chris Harper, but he just isn’t final roster material yet. I would love to see the Pats stash him on the practice squad for a little while so he can develop, because I believe this kid has some real talent.
Dobson and Wayne are the only two true question marks at this position, and the preseason didn’t help much in answering our questions. Dobson has all the physical tools you want in a receiver, but his route running can be suspect, he can drop a lot of balls, and he loses the battle with the defender when it comes to fighting for the football far too often. When he puts it all together, he is impressive. But he doesn’t do it enough to trust him when it really matters.
As for Wayne, his track-record speaks for itself, but his age also shows. He won’t win with speed or explosion anymore, but he is still a savvy route-runner, and once he gets more familiar with the playbook, he will make a positive impact on this offense.
Next: On To Pittsburgh