Patriots: 3 wide receivers Pats should draft in 2021
By Jerry Trotta
Here are three wide receivers the Patriots should look to nab in the 2021 Draft.
New England Patriots fans certainly aren’t accustomed to being excited about the offseason with a handful of games still remaining in the regular season, but such is life in 2020 when seemingly everything has been flipped upside down.
It goes without saying that the Patriots are a significant roster overhaul away from being able to compete for a championship again, but something tells us that GM Bill Belichick and the rest of the front office believes they can upend that narrative with one aggressive offseason.
Free agency and trades present the clearest path for the Patriots in terms of fulfilling that goal, and their projected $69 million in salary cap space will only make their job easier. What holes aren’t filled at the start of the offseason will undoubtedly be addressed during the draft, which hasn’t been kind to Belichick — especially on the offensive side of the ball — in recent years.
Fortunately for the Patriots, their backfield situation appears to be sorted out in light of 2019 third-round pick Damien Harris’ breakout campaign. The same, however, cannot be said for their wide receiving corps, which is easily one of the weakest in the NFL.
Well, it just so happens that the 2021 Draft is one of the deepest at the WR position in several years, and New England would be out of their minds not to jump at the chance to nab one of the top prospects with one of their first few picks. With that in mind, let’s highlight three wideouts they should look to draft next April.
3. Jaylen Waddle
Alabama star Jaylen Waddle would add a needed deep threat to the Patriots’ offense.
While the Patriots’ offense certainly hasn’t been helped by Cam Newton’s supposed inability to throw the ball downfield, the lack of separation his receivers have created this season has only amplified that problem.
Being able to take the top off of opposing defenses is a necessity in today’s NFL, and the Patriots don’t even pose a threat in that department. That’s precisely what makes Alabama speedster Jaylen Waddle such a perfect fit. He only registered 560 receiving yards as a sophomore in 2018, but he struggled to see the field as a result of the Crimson Tide flaunting a trio of stud pass catchers, two of whom were drafted in the first round in 2020.
Despite having limited reps, however, Waddle flashed enough potential — he averaged a staggering 12.2 yards per catch (which led the country) and a whopping 2.98 yards per route — that proved he should be one of the top wideouts taken off the board in 2021.
Waddle’s junior season was unfortunately cut short due to a broken ankle suffered on special teams early in the year, but reports indicate that he’s already back in the gym following surgery to prepare for April. In just five games, he logged 25 catches for 557 yards (22.3 YPC) and four touchdowns.
The Alabama star’s home-run ability is exactly what the Patriots need in their offense. Assuming his draft stock takes a hit following his ankle injury, he could fall right into their lap in the middle of the first-round. Who knows, maybe he makes it all the way to Round 2.