Top 5 rookie seasons by a Patriots WR under Bill Belichick: Malcolm Mitchell
Malcolm Mitchell was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Georgia and was a plug-and-play option in Belichick’s lineup, alongside Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan. Playing in 14 games and starting six, he amassed 32 receptions for 401 yards and four touchdowns.
To cap his rookie season, he was an instrumental piece of the Patriots’ victory in Super Bowl LI. We all know that story and it gives me goosebumps every time I think about it. Tom Brady threw the ball a whopping 62 times in leading the Patriots from a 28-3 deficit. Malcolm Mitchell brought in six of those balls for 70 yards, including four first down receptions in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, and through no fault of his own, Mitchell could not capitalize on that momentum. In fact, that would be the last game he ever played. Mitchell retired in 2019 after dealing with nagging knee injuries that dated back to his time at Georgia.
Top 5 rookie seasons by a Patriots WR under Bill Belichick: Kenbrell Thompkins
Kenbrell Thompkins was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Cincinnati that year and put together a solid stat line of 32 receptions for 466 yards and 4 touchdowns in 12 games.
Kenbrell couldn’t quite build on his rookie year though. He had brief stops with the Raiders and Jets, and a very short second stint with the Patriots, but his career highlight may be catching a game-winning pass from Tom Brady in Week 6 of that 2013 season to beat the dangerous, Drew Brees-led Saints.