Will the New England Patriots have better luck if they draft a wide receiver?

New England Patriots

New England doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to drafting a wide receiver in the first three rounds

Then again, the Patriots have spent very little draft capital on the position under Bill Belichick.

  • 2019: The Patriots draft Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry with the No. 32 overall pick. Harry has underwhelmed thus far, with 57 receptions for 598 yards and 4 TDs in three seasons, including 12 receptions for 184 yards and no TDs this past season.
  • 2013: The team selects Marshall’s Aaron Dobson in the second round with the 59th overall pick. Dobson is out of the league after three seasons, finishing his career with 53 receptions for 698 yards and 4 TDs.
  • 2009: Brandon Tate of North Carolina is taken in the third round with the No. 83 overall pick. Tate plays 10 years in the league but only his first two are spent in New England.
  • 2006: Chad Jackson of Florida is drafted high in the second round with the No. 36 overall pick. He plays two seasons for New England, then is out of the league after three seasons, the last of which is spent in Denver.
  • 2003: Bethel Johnson of Texas A&M is a second-round pick at No. 45 overall. He lasts two seasons with the Patriots and is out of the league after the 2007 season.
  • 2002: Deion Branch, the No. 65 overall pick, is by far the most successful. He has two stints with New England and finishes his 11-year career with 518 receptions, 6,644 yards receiving and 39 TD receptions.

Those are the only receivers taken in the first three rounds under Belichick. Overall, New England has drafted 18 receivers since 2000, including 2021 seventh-rounder Tre Nixon of Central Florida.

But with Tom Brady long gone and Mac Jones fresh coming off his record-setting rookie season, there’s talk of the Patriots taking a receiver again, maybe even on Day 1.

From Armando Salguero of OutKick: “The Patriots will be meeting with Chris Olave of Ohio State, Treylon Burks of Arkansas and Jameson Williams of Alabama among others, according to the source. And the club will be conducting these interviews back-to-back-to-back so as to directly compare the players one against another.”

Salguero also reports that his source won’t say whether the team plans on meeting with other receivers, “although that is likely.”

Here are the pros and cons of each receiver:

Chris Olave, Ohio State

Pros: Should be pro-ready from Day 1 who is a savvy route-runner with top-end speed and elite ball skills. Cons: Not great with yards-after-catch and below-average run blocker. Decent but not elite size at 6-foot-1, 188-pounds. What others are saying: “I love the ball skills and the speed but I don’t love the frame and strength. He will get neutralized by certain corners.” – area scout for AFC team (Source: Lance Zierlein, NFL.com). Ranking: 34 (Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board)

Treylon Burks, Arkansas

Pros: Terrific size (6-foot-3, 228-pounds), surprisingly good speed, huge hands, solid route-runner, can be used in a variety of alignments. Cons: Not as physical as you would expect after-the-catch, some concern about maintaining his speed and athleticism if he gains weight. What others are saying: “He has an outstanding blend of size … and speed (4.45) with the tracking skills and catch radius to be a quarterback’s best friend. … (R)eminds me of a linebacker-sized Deebo Samuel.” – Dane Brugler (Source: The Athletic). Ranking: 20 (Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board)

Jameson Williams, Alabama

Pros: Prior to his injury, the 6-foot-2, 189-pound junior might have been the fastest players at the Combine. Good route runner, especially with double-moves, and elite kickoff returner. Cons: In addition to the ACL tear he suffered during the national championship game, there’s always worries about soft-tissue injuries with speedy players who have similar measurables. Also tends to body catch. What others are saying: “It’s a shame Williams tore his ACL in the national championship game, as his tape put him firmly in the mix for WR1. He’s still the best deep threat in the class.” – Pro Football Focus (Source). Ranking: 37 (Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board)


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