The New England Patriots did not get a lot from wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell in 2016. Injuries slowed the rookie down, but there were some bright spots.
Not every member of the New England Patriots deserves an A grade for his contributions last season. Many Patriots like Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, LeGarrette Blount and James White obviously played key roles in helping them get to the Super Bowl and win it. However, others like Malcolm Mitchell merely showed glimpses of what they can do.
The rookie wide receiver was a fourth-round draft pick out of Georgia heading into 2016. Unfortunately, Mitchell suffered an arm injury in the preseason opener, and he was lucky to return for the regular-season opener. Still, his progress was slowed until Brady returned to action following his suspension.
With Brady out, Mitchell’s best effort came against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1. He snagged two catches for 33 yards in a 23-21 road win and was targeted five times by Garoppolo. Mitchell would not get the same amount of looks again until Week 11 versus the San Francisco 49ers.
Mitchell caught four passes from Brady for 98 yards and scored his first NFL touchdown in a 30-17 road victory at San Francisco. A week later, Mitchell had five receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns in a road win over the New York Jets. He then set a new career high with eight catches for 82 yards in a home victory against the Los Angeles Rams.
Mitchell completed an impressive one-month stretch with another score on Monday Night Football in a victory against the Baltimore Ravens. Over that four-week period, he totaled 21 catches for 263 yards and four touchdowns. He ended up with 32 receptions for 401 yards and four scores overall in his first regular season.
In the playoffs, Mitchell was inactive against the Houston Texans but played an increasingly bigger role. After making one catch for five yards in the AFC Championship Game, he had six for 70 yards in the Super Bowl. Despite playing a limited role for a Super Bowl champion, Mitchell showed promise. And he should see increased time in 2017 as one of the team’s best young receivers.