Going into next season the Patriots will be more motivated than ever after Sunday’s Super bowl loss. They are the favorites to win it all next year and will see the return of key players who were injured all this season. This list includes Donta Hightower, Martellus Bennett, Julian Edelman, and Malcolm Mitchell. After an excellent rookie season in 2016, Mitchell’s return could be big and would make the Patriots even deeper.
Photo Credit: Tyler Sullivan
Mitchell’s 2016 Season
The Patriots drafted Mitchell out of Georgia in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft. As a rookie Mitchell adapted to the Patriots system and earned the trust of Tom Brady. He struggled in the first half of the 2016 season but had a tremendous second half. This was impressive as receivers have struggled learning the Patriots offense. Mitchell seemed to be the exception, especially at critical moments. He averaged ten yards a catch in the Patriots 2016 Super Bowl run while hauling in seven catches. In Super Bowl LI he had six catches for seventy yards as the Patriots completed an epic comeback against the Falcons. He was a big part of the Patriots comeback and looked poised for greatness.
Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill
Malcolm Mitchell Injury
Mitchell’s season ended in 2017 before it could get started. In the preseason, the sophomore wideout injured his right knee and the Patriots placed him on injured reserved. Mitchell was expected to become a bigger part of the offense and build on his rookie season. He brought a unique element to the Patriots offense as he is an every-position receiver. He’s not a deep threat but he was not solely a slot receiver. The Patriots current group is not as versatile. Hogan and Cooks are burners while Edelman is a slot receiver.
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Return Won’t Be Easy
While Mitchell showed a lot of potential, his comeback won’t be easy. The Patriots are deep at the receiver position with Hogan, Cooks, Amendola, and Edelman, who will return in 2018 from a torn ACL in his right knee. Mitchell will have a lot of competition next year so he will have to prove himself again. If he can show the promise he did in 2016, then the Patriots will find a spot for him. Not many people are talking about Mitchell in terms of making a big impact next year. If he can stay healthy,the former Bulldog will surprise people. That’s a problem the Patriots won’t mind having.