Malcolm Mitchell, age 23
When it comes to drafting wide receivers, the Patriots haven’t always warranted the results they expect. That being said, the future looks bright for the team’s 2016 fourth-round pick, Malcolm Mitchell.
After suffering an elbow injury in the preseason, it seemed as if Malcolm Mitchell’s rookie year was in jeopardy. One month later, he’s catching balls from Jimmy Garoppolo in the Patriots season debut against the Arizona Cardinals.
Mitchell had a steady start to his rookie season, catching four balls for 75 yards during Brady’s suspension, but it wasn’t until Week 9 that he made his mark. In a 30-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Mitchell had four catches for 98 and his first NFL touchdown. A week later, he upped his performance with five receptions, 42 yards, and two scores against the rival Jets.
In his rookie season, the former Georgia Bulldog totaled an adequate 32 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns.
Although his regular season production provided a good indication of Mitchell’s upside, his clutch second half performance in Super Bowl LI showed just how good could be. Mitchell caught all six of his targets in the second half, including a first down in New England’s late game-tying drive. He finished his first NFL postseason with seven catches for 75 yards, and a Super Bowl win.
Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola have entered the latter half of their careers, meaning it’s time the team starts developing new talent at wide receiver. Although the group is crowded, Mitchell is in good company with Edelman, Cooks, Hogan, and Amendola. In 2017, he’ll continue to improve his play and climb the depth chart throughout the year.