Patriots will be making big mistake if they cut this preseason standout

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 30: Kristian Wilkerson #17 (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 30: Kristian Wilkerson #17 (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images) /

Much of the attention surrounding the New England Patriots over the last few weeks has related to the quarterback competition between Cam Newton and Mac Jones.

While those two will soak up the limelight, that shouldn’t mean that preseason stars like Kristian Wilkerson get the short end of the stick.

Wilkerson managed to latch on with the practice squad last season after a solid career at FCS school Southeast Missouri State, where his 4.46 speed and 215-pound frame intrigued both the Patriots and Titans enough to force long looks at him.

Ultimately, New England won out in the great Wilkerson sweepstakes, and they’ll reap the dividends — if they don’t do anything foolish.

While Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and one of either N’Keal Harry or Jakobi Meyers will make up the top spots on the wide receiver depth chart, that doesn’t mean that Wilkerson is just a camp body without a spot carved out for him. After all, Bill Belichick has proven that if you’re playing well, you’ll get minutes irrespective of everything else going on.

Wilkerson has already recorded nine catches for 75 yards in the preseason, emerging as one of Jones’ favorite targets with the second unit. If he has established a connection with Jones, the Patriots would be foolish to cut him after the preseason finale.

Kristian Wilkerson needs to remain on the Patriots roster.

Wilkerson topped 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns during his final season in college, proving that he was far too dominant for that level of competition. His ability to get down the field and make plays as a runner has earned him a deserved amount of praise in his short Patriots tenure.

While he did have an ugly drop against Washington, and Belichick has been known to stick players with drop and fumble issues far down on the bench, the synergy between Wilkerson and Jones is palpable, and it could lead to a slight increase in snaps for the former Redhawk if Jones takes the QB1 job.

If the Patriots cut the wideout, they could risk watching Wilkerson go to another team and do damage. With such an impressive performance despite a rookie quarterback throwing to him most of the time, Wilkerson likely won’t go unclaimed if he is waived. If the Patriots aren’t keeping him on the 53-man roster, don’t expect him to end up on the practice squad.

Wilkerson might not offer a ton of immediate production given how stacked the Patriots are at wide receiver, but he could be a solid developmental prospect who makes an impact on special teams and breaks loose for one or two big plays over the course of the season. All he’s done this preseason is show off what a quality player he is.