There are many new faces on this Patriots team compared to last year. The Pats acquired four guys from trade, fifteen from free agency, and nine from the NFL Draft. They also lost nine players from trade and free agency and had three players retire.
In this new series, I will be looking at every player from each position leading up to training camp. For this part of the series I will take a look at the wide receivers. The Patriots lost two very important wide receivers last year. Brandin Cooks was traded for the 23rd pick in the draft, and Danny Amendola signed with Miami. However, the Pats added three wide receivers via trade, draft, and free agency.
Julian Edelman #11 (2009-Present):
Julian Edelman is the third longest-tenured Patriot beside Tom Brady and Stephen Gostkowski. The 2009 seventh-round draft pick will be entering his 10th season in the NFL and for the Pats. His past few years have not been easy for him though. Edelman missed the entirety of the 2017 NFL season due to a torn ACL in the preseason. After spending a year of rehab, he looked to get back into playing football. Things only got worse for Edelman as he tested positive for PEDs in June. This will lead to a four-game suspension for Edelman in the 2018 season.
Edelman has been one of the best wide receivers for years for the Pats despite his recent problems. He was drafted in 2009 to primarily receive kicks and punts. His rookie year he had 37 receptions, 359 yards and one TD. His next three years he was just a returner with his receiving numbers relatively low. He did have three punt return touchdowns over those three years. 2013 was Edelman’s breakout year after the departure of Wes Welker. He played in all 16 games that year, and had 105 receptions, 1056 yards, and seven scores. His 2014 campaign was good also with him having 92 receptions, 972 yards, and four touchdowns. 2015 for Edelman saw Julian missing seven games due to a broken bone in his foot. Edelman came back with one of his best seasons yet with 98 receptions, 1,106 yards, and three TDs.
Edelman’s Playoff Performances:
Julian has also been the go-to option for the Patriots at wide receiver in the playoffs. In his 11 games started he has had 89 receptions, 1,024 yards, and five touchdowns. He also had a passing touchdown in the 2014 Divisional Round against Baltimore. Edelman has also been great in the two Super Bowl wins. Against Seattle in 2015 he had nine receptions, 109 yards, and the game-winning touchdown. When he played Atlanta in 2017 he had five receptions, 87 yards, and one of the best catches in Super Bowl history.
It's @Edelman11's birthday?
— NFL (@NFL) May 22, 2018
Once Edelman comes back he will be Tom Brady’s number one option. He is one of the best slot-receivers in the game and will definitely make the roster for the upcoming season.
Chris Hogan #15 (2016-Present):
Chris Hogan has been a fan-favorite ever since he was on Hard Knocks in 2012. He is entering his seventh year in the NFL and third for New England. Hogan played for three teams in two years before signing with Buffalo. Chris played for Buffalo for his next four years of his career. Over the course of those years he has had 87 receptions, 959 yards, and six TDs.
Hogan was a restricted free agent in 2016, and signed with New England on a three-year deal. He fit in right away with the receiving core. His first year with the Pats, Hogan had 38 receptions, 680 yards, and four scores. Chris also had the most yards per catch in the entire NFL with 17.9. In the 2016 playoffs, Chris had his best game of his career. This came against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game. He had nine receptions, 180 yards, and two touchdowns.
🚨 TRICK PLAY ALERT 🚨
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) January 23, 2017
Hogan’s 2017 season consisted of him missing seven games due to a shoulder injury. Before his injury he had 34 receptions, 439 yards, and five TDs. He also had six catches for 128 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl 52 against Philadelphia.
Chris has been a great route-runner over his career and is able to get open easily. With an increased role for next year I expect big things from him. He will make the roster for the upcoming season.
Jordan Matthews #80 (2018-Present):
Jordan Matthews is entering his first year with the Pats and his fifth season overall. Matthews signed a one-year deal with New England in the 2018 offseason. New England is Matthews’ third team in his NFL career. Jordan was drafted by Philadelphia in 2014 before being traded to Buffalo in 2017. In Jordan’s three career years with Philadelphia he had 225 receptions, 2,673 yards, and 19 TDs. His one year in Buffalo saw Matthews have 25 receptions, 282 yards, and one score. Jordan’s lone-year in Buffalo was his worst yet, but he missed the last six games of the season due to a knee injury.
WR Jordan Matthews is the new number 80 pic.twitter.com/qpndQGgJDk
— PatriotsNation™️ (@PatsNationTM) May 22, 2018
Matthews’ has been a very productive slot receiver. Jordan could be an option to replace Amendola, or he could move outside and play wide-out there. He has also been one of the hardest workers at OTAs as he is usually the first on the field. Jordan will make the roster due to his size, catching ability, and route-running skills as the Patriots are also without Edelman for the first four games.
Malcolm Mitchell #19 (2016-Present):
Malcolm Mitchell is a very bright spot at wide receiver for the Patriots. He was drafted by New England in 2016, and made an immediate impact for the 2016 Super Bowl winning team. He played in 14 games as a rookie and had 32 receptions, 401 yards, and four TDs. Mitchell started to show his potential in Week 9 against San Francisco, where he had four catches, 98 yards, and one score. The following week after his breakout game, he had 5 receptions, 42 yards, and two TDs, including the game-winner.
— UGA Football Live (@UGAfootballLive) November 21, 2016
Mitchell’s impact on the team did not stop in the regular season. He was also a major part in the epic comeback against Atlanta in Super Bowl 51. In that game he had six receptions for 70 yards. Mitchell also had five receptions in the fourth quarter and converted them all into first downs.
Malcolm’s 2017 season was odd though, as he was placed on injured reserve in September for a knee injury. There was a lot of talk of him returning for the playoffs, but it never came true. Mitchell is a very young bright spot for the Pats. He will still have to show his worth in training camp, but I believe he will most likely make the roster.
Kenny Britt #85 (2017-Present):
Kenny Britt is a nine-year veteran of the game, and is entering his second season with the Pats. Britt has played for four different NFL teams during his tenure in the NFL. He started his career in Tennessee, where he played five seasons and had 2,450 yards and 19 TDs over that span. Britt then signed with Los Angeles in 2014 and played three seasons for the Rams. He had his best year in the NFL for the Rams in 2016 where he had 68 receptions, 1002 yards, and five scores. After his spectacular season for LA he signed with Cleveland. In Cleveland he only played nine games before getting cut. The Patriots signed him in mid-2017.
Make the corner miss.
— NFL (@NFL) November 12, 2017
Britt only appeared in three regular season games for New England, with him having two receptions for 23 yards. Kenny was inactive for the Patriots postseason run. He has shown in his past what he can do at wide-receiver, but with the depth the Patriots have at the position, he is a likely-candidate to get cut.
Cordarelle Patterson #84 (2018-Present):
Cordarelle Patterson is entering his sixth year in the NFL and his first for New England. Patterson was reportedly an option for the Pats in the 2013 NFL Draft before the Pats traded the pick to Minnesota. Cordarelle was then drafted by the Vikings with the 29th pick, and played four years with them. Over those years he had 132 receptions, 1,316 yards, and seven TDs. He then signed with Oakland and had 31 receptions and 309 yards. After his lone season in Oakland, he was traded to New England for a fifth round pick in the 2018 Draft.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 15, 2017
Patterson was highly-touted out of college as a guy who can do everything. He has not shown the player that he was thought to be at wide receiver in the NFL yet. Patterson drops many passes and has lacked route-running ability. However Bill Belichick believes he can unlock his potential when he told Patterson:
“I don’t know what you’ve been through in the past, but basically, we get the job done here. We’re gonna make you the player that you should be.”
Cordarelle is also one of the best returners in the entire NFL. He has returned five kicks for touchdowns in his five years in the NFL. Overall, Patterson could have a breakout year at WR for New England this upcoming season. He also fills a major void at kick returner with the departure of Dion Lewis. I believe that Patterson is more than likely to make the team due to the fact that he has so much potential and is a great kick returner.
Phillip Dorsett #13 (2017-Present):
Phillip Dorsett is entering his fourth year in the NFL and his second in New England. He was acquired via trade before the 2017 season in exchange for QB, Jacoby Brissett. Dorsett was a former first round, but has disappointed so far in his NFL career. He only had 753 total yards in his two years in Indianapolis. In his only season in New England he had 12 receptions and 194 yards.
— Barstool Miami (@BarstoolUMiami) January 21, 2018
With Dorsett’s disappointing season with New England, and the amount of depth at wide receiver; Dorsett is a prime-candidate for release.
Braxton Berrios (Rookie):
Braxton Berrios was the sixth-round selection by New England in the 2018 NFL Draft. He immediately was touted as the replacement to Danny Amendola as the slot-receiver. Berrios is a 5’9″ wide receiver who played in every game for Miami the past four years. His senior year consisted him having 55 receptions, 679 yards, and nine TDs in 13 games. Braxton’s Miami career consisted of 1,175 yards, 100 receptions, and 14 TDs.
Braxton Berrios. Again. Miami is back on top. pic.twitter.com/4R1dp4hd3i
— Miami DieHards (@MiamiDieHards) October 7, 2017
Berrios is already a fan-favorite in New England as he looks to take on the Danny Amendola role. Braxton has a good chance of making the team, but could be placed on the practice squad also.
Cody Hollister #81 (2017-Present):
Cody Hollister is entering his second year in the NFL and for New England. Hollister was an undrafted free agent alongside his twin brother, Jacob Hollister. He was kept on the practice squad for the entire year last year, and saw zero snaps in the regular season. In the 2017 preseason, Hollister only played two games where had two receptions, 40 yards, and a touchdown.
Touchdown Cody Hollisterpic.twitter.com/AoJUT0aLLa
— PatriotsNation™️ (@PatsNationTM) August 31, 2017
Cody Hollister is a dark-horse to make the roster for the upcoming season, but he would need to do a lot for that to happen. I believe the Patriots cut Hollister, but keep him on the practice squad.
Riley McCarron #17 (2017 Present):
Riley McCarron is also entering his second season in the NFL, and for New England. McCarron did not start his career in New England, unlike Hollister. Riley was an undrafted free agent, and was signed by Houston. He was then released by Houston in September, and picked up by the Patriots shortly after. McCarron spent his entire 2017 season with New England on their practice squad.
The #Patriots held onto former #Iowa WR Riley McCarron on their practice squad last year. He's now a sleeper to make the roster in 2018. Here's some old McCarron tape from 2016 at Iowa. Great route stem to set up his leverage, waits to break at the top till the last second, TD. pic.twitter.com/mba7IoGN67
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) May 10, 2018
McCarron is a longshot to make the main roster, but if he beats out Berrios and Dorsett he will have a big chance of making it. Riley’s most likely scenario is through the practice squad.
The Patriots have a lot of depth at wide receiver this upcoming season, and they need it. Danny Amendola is gone and Julian Edelman is suspended, so people will have to step up. Brady has a lot of new weapons this year as the Pats gear up for another Super Bowl run.