Three targets at the 14th overall pick for the Patriots
By Jared Koch
If you were to ask Patriots fans what position they’d like the team to draft in the first round, many of them would probably end up saying receiver; and I can’t blame them either.
After the past few seasons with the offense consistently lacking vertical weapons, selecting a receiver early in the draft could be the solution.
While there’s been a lot of buzz around Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba being the best receiver in the class, it’s probably a little unlikely of a selection here. Smith-Njigba projects as a slot receiver in the pros, running around 80% of his routes in the slot in college.
With the Patriots’ recent signing of JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency, you’ll most likely see him manning the slot rather than a potential draft pick. Therefore, a better fit would be a bigger, more explosive receiver in Quentin Johnson.
Johnson measures 6’4″ and 215 pounds coming out of TCU. His size is what separates him from other top receivers in the class. Other pass catchers such as JSN, Jordan Addison, and Zay Flowers are all at least three inches shorter than Johnson, giving him a comparable physical advantage.
Johnson’s an explosive athlete with high-level speed and acceleration, which fits the Patriots’ offensive needs well. His impressive speed gives him the edge in beating his man to get open or making plays with the ball in his hand. A playmaker like Johnson is something New England desperately needed last season.
However, while he’s an intriguing prospect, he’s not a perfect one. Scouts have been concerned with his offensive consistency in beating press coverage and winning the ball off a contested catch. However, these are fixable issues with Bill Belichick and Bill O’Brien at the helm.
A potential WR core of Quentin Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne, and DeVante Parker would give Mac Jones an array of options in New England’s passing attack, giving him zero excuses to produce in his third-year starting.