The WR Corps

BaseballJones

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From the Pats 2019 roster thread, here's who they currently have:

WIDE RECEIVER (13)
Julian Edelman
Josh Gordon (suspended)
Demaryius Thomas
Phillip Dorsett
N’Keal Harry
Bruce Ellington
Maurice Harris
Braxton Berrios
Damoun Patterson
Jakobi Meyers UDFA
Xavier Ubosi UDFA
Ryan Davis UDFA

Matthew Slater ST


Now this team has won Super Bowls with the following main guys as receivers:

2001-02: Brown, Patten, Johnson
2003-04: Brown, Branch, Givens, Johnson, Patten
2004-05: Givens, Branch, Patten, Brown
2014-15: Edelman, LaFell, Amendola, Thompkins, Tyms, Dobson (had Gronk)
2016-17: Edelman, Amendola, Hogan, Mitchell, Floyd (Gronk injured)
2018-19: Edelman, Patterson, Hogan, Gordon (some), Dorsett (had Gronk)

Let's be honest. That isn't exactly a who's who of NFL wide receivers. Solid players. But they've proven they can win Super Bowls with a modest receiving corps *even when they don't have Gronk* (like in 2016-17).

I like the current WR crop. Especially so if Thomas is even 85% of his peak, and Gordon returns. That would make for a tremendous group: Edelman, Thomas, Gordon, Harry, Dorsett, Ellington, Harris. Lots of talent there.

Definitely hurts to not have Gronk, but again, they've won Super Bowls without Gronk. Having this WR corps and versatile RBs, along with a punishing running game, should be sufficient.

If Thomas is useless and Gordon doesn't come back, I think they need some help at WR still, but even then, I think Edelman, Dorsett, Harry, Ellington, Harris, and Berrios (I guess) isn't a terrible group. But they'd better be able to run the ball and use play-action.

What guys might they still be able to add, or do you all think this is basically what they'll roll with?
 

dcmissle

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Pandemonium67

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That WR corp is plenty adequate but only if everything breaks just right, which is very, very unlikely.

At the top you have an older Edelman who had a serious injury not long ago. Then Gordon, whose availability is a complete question mark and thus who cannot be counted on at all. Next is Thomas, who is both older and coming off a serious injury. Next, Dorsett is kinda OK and kinda just a warm body. After that are rookies and question marks. Some of them will stick. Harry might be excellent, but probably not right away.

I expect BB to separate the wheat from the chaff in this group and pick up a few castoffs from other teams during training camp. I also expect him to upgrade at TE somehow. The result will be an overall receiving corp (including RBs and TEs) that, hopefully, is adequate to go all the way to February.
 

Eck'sSneakyCheese

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I think they roll with this crew.

Edelman, coming off of an injury, still looked damn good. Another year older might slow him but I haven't seen much if any decline yet.

I don't think Dorsett gets enough credit. He played well before Gordon got here, was benched when Gordon was playing, then after Gordon was "shutdown" stepped back up as a legitimate receiving threat and made some clutch plays. I think he's built a good rapport with Brady.

Harry will be very interesting to watch. If he can pick up this offense and hopefully get on Bradys good side I can see his floor being Gronks production last year. (47/682/3)

Harris, Berrios and Ellington are likely fighting for one spot. Maybe two until Thomas or Gordon come back.

Thomas and Gordon are obviously the biggest question marks. If they get anything at all from either of them, assuming health, this receiving corps should be extremely deep.

Worst case scenario: Edelman, Harry, Dorsett, Harris Berrios, Slater

Best: Edelman, Gordon, Thomas, Harry, Dorsett, Slater
 

Jimbodandy

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Jury is out on opening day roster still, since training camp cuts and trades can happen up to the end of August. And if necessary, Bill isn't afraid to bring people in mid-season.
 
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Super Nomario

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My requests are modest — no worse than average health for the group, one of UDFA sticks, Berrios justifies this optimism.
I'm not sure how modest these are. What is "average health" for a unit where the primary receiver turns 33 in a few weeks and suffered a major injury less than 24 months ago, the other most accomplished receiver is currently rehabbing with an Achilles injury, and three others (Harris, Ellington, and Berrios) spent time on injured reserve in 2018? A UDFA sticking is a good sign for the UDFA, not so good a sign for the player(s) (possibly veteran) he's competing against. Berrios never had 700 yards in a college season (and that was the only one over 250); he was a sixth-rounder for a reason.
 

ShaneTrot

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What has Berrios done to exhibit any faith that he can make this team? I have heard Curran and Hannable say multiple times he looked bad last summer. Maybe the redshirt year will help, who knows?
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I'm less optimistic about this group, unless its bolstered by a Gronk midseason comeback. We shouldn't underestimate how much Gronk meant as a second guy, along with Jules, in the WR/TE grouping who could win against man coverage somewhat regularly.* Without that second guy it just becomes too easy to bracket Edelman and force TB12 into low percentage throw after low percentage throw, or to live and die throwing to his backs. Dorsett has never been that second guy and I don't think Thomas was that kind of player anymore even before the injury. Gordon could be that second guy but we can't count on him. Harry has the potential but its very rare for rookie WR to really be impact players in the league. I'd be somewhat surprised if any of the other WRs are meaningful contributors at all, much less focal points of the offense.

*And by beat I mean truly beat, not get open by a quarter step so that there is a six inch window for Brady to fit the ball (ie, Hogan one handed catch against the Chiefs, or a bunch of Mitchell and Hogan catches in the Falcons Super Bowl), which he has still done in the past because he's a Golden God of Football but that can't be expected to keep going forever.
 

EL Jeffe

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I'm optimistic about the wide receivers. Edelman is still Edelman, and he's the guy who keeps the chains moving. I think D. Thomas is back by Week 1 and fits the offense well in Hogan's role. They clearly have a plan for Harry and I expect solid production out of him. Dorsett is steady and seems to have earned a bigger role than what he's given. I think Gordon plays in 2019, I just have no idea when. It sounded like there was optimism that he'd get reinstated, but you never know with Roger.

The TE situation, on the other hand, is dire. They don't have a single roster lock, or even a player you could say is league average. I know people like ASJ, but there's a reason he was sitting out on the market available for dirt cheap. His 50 catch season 2 years ago sounds nice, but it came at a putrid 7 yards/catch. His blocking is just okay. Matt Lacosse is probably the best hope, and that's saying something. He has some size and can run a little, but he's been a fringe player to date. He flashed a little for Denver last year, so maaaaybe there's something there. Hollister has never been able to stay healthy, is pretty bad blocking but has nice hands and can run a little. Izzo can block, but runs 4.9. I like Beck, the UDFA they picked up, but he has marginal length (6'3, very short arms) and limited production. Hopefully they can explore the trade market or a post June 1st cut. I'm just not sure how they run their power-based offense with this group of TEs.
 

m0ckduck

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They should be able to muddle through ok with a healthy Edelman— but god forbid he gets hurt. They could be functionally unable to move the ball through the air if he goes down, especially in the early going before some of the other pieces (Thomas, Harry, Gordon) return to action and/or get integrated.
 

wilked

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People are forgetting about the RB corps also... Which can be deployed very effectively as receivers

The overall set is not perfect, but there are enough pieces to be very good
 

TheoShmeo

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I’ve been pretty concerned with the WRs and took note that the Pats — if the various reports are to be believed — were in on so many of the receivers who moved, meaning Bill also thinks it’s an area of need. And of course, his view is noteworthy.

That said, I think there are just too many unknowns to feel good or bad right now.

Someone wrote that Thomas should be ready to start the season. That would be nice but how could anyone actually know that?

Gordon is probably at best a week 5 addition and even then how long will he last until he flames out again?

Harry looks promising but we know the track record of rookies in this offense.

Who will the starting or top two TEs be? ASJ has shown flashes but he’s also reasonably injury prone.

How good are the lower level free agents and UDFAs?

I don’t at all mean to be negative. I take the point that the RBs and even Develin catch passes in this offense.

But there are just too many questions in my view to be all that optimistic or pessimistic. The one thing I can say is that other than augmenting TE, which I would be shocked if they didn’t do, they do have the pieces to be good enough offensively. That if a bunch of the questions have satisfying answers in the end.

Oh, and I’d like to see Julian extended for a year so that’s not hanging over the Pats all year...given how damn pivotal he is.
 

Super Nomario

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Harry looks promising but we know the track record of rookies in this offense.
The track record of rookies isn't that bad. Branch and Mitchell contributed as rookies, and Dobson and Thompkins had their best seasons in their first seasons. I imagine they'll limit Harry's playbook a little bit (they have tended not to use rookies as slot receivers) and I certainly don't expect a 1,000-yard season or anything, but 400-600 yards? That seems like a reasonable somewhat-optimistic estimate to me. Harry is a really good run-after-catch receiver so they can give him some manufactured touches a la Patterson last year; that's something they haven't really had with their other rookies.

Guys like Chad Jackson and Taylor Price didn't struggle as rookies because they were rookies; they struggled as rookies because they were bad. Harry will have growing pains, but despite its reputation, the offense has shown a pretty decent ability to incorporate talent reasonably quickly.
 

RedOctober3829

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The track record of rookies isn't that bad. Branch and Mitchell contributed as rookies, and Dobson and Thompkins had their best seasons in their first seasons. I imagine they'll limit Harry's playbook a little bit (they have tended not to use rookies as slot receivers) and I certainly don't expect a 1,000-yard season or anything, but 400-600 yards? That seems like a reasonable somewhat-optimistic estimate to me. Harry is a really good run-after-catch receiver so they can give him some manufactured touches a la Patterson last year; that's something they haven't really had with their other rookies.

Guys like Chad Jackson and Taylor Price didn't struggle as rookies because they were rookies; they struggled as rookies because they were bad. Harry will have growing pains, but despite its reputation, the offense has shown a pretty decent ability to incorporate talent reasonably quickly.
With Herm Edwards as ASU coach the last couple years, does he run a pro-style offense or something similar to what the Patriots run?
 

bakahump

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CP84 is a really good analogue for Harry. Last year in the 1st year in the offense he was 21 for 247.

I have to believe an actual WR, who plays all 16 games as an actual WR. Even with growing pains is good for 40-50 and 500. Or almost Gronk RECEIVING numbers. (cause yeah we aint getting his blocking anytime soon).
 

EL Jeffe

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Someone wrote that Thomas should be ready to start the season. That would be nice but how could anyone actually know that?
Based on the time frame from his first Achilles injury, Thomas would be back in August. There's been a few reports that he's ahead of schedule, and while that could easily just be agent speak, there's nothing to suggest that his rehab is going any more slowly than last time. Additionally, the incentives in his contract lead me to believe that Thomas certainly feels like he's primed to play a full season.

Now, the Patriots may elect to hold him out if Gordon gets reinstated this summer, or if Harry (or other receivers) look particularly good this spring and summer. But I do firmly believe Thomas will be available for week 1 if the Patriots would like to use him.
 

Cornboy14

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I know that the Patriots loved Chad O'Shea, I've read all the pieces about how critical he's been for the red zone and the positive comments from Belichick and McDaniels.

But, I also can't help but notice that he's been the WR coach for 9 years and the only WR that's been developed during that time was Edelman. They didn't use a lot of high picks, of course, on the position and they weren't killing it prior to O'Shea's arrival so it might be more of an organizational problem. But I wonder if having someone different leading that room may be better for WR development, even if O'Shea is a net loss elsewhere.
 

BaseballJones

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I know this is optimistic thinking here, but if if IF Thomas is healthy and like 90% of his peak self, and Gordon returns at some point and sticks, then this WR corps will be fantastic.

Edelman
Gordon
Harry
Thomas
Dorsett

Just those five guys alone would make for a tremendous group.

But...that's a lot of IFs.
 

Super Nomario

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I know that the Patriots loved Chad O'Shea, I've read all the pieces about how critical he's been for the red zone and the positive comments from Belichick and McDaniels.

But, I also can't help but notice that he's been the WR coach for 9 years and the only WR that's been developed during that time was Edelman. They didn't use a lot of high picks, of course, on the position and they weren't killing it prior to O'Shea's arrival so it might be more of an organizational problem. But I wonder if having someone different leading that room may be better for WR development, even if O'Shea is a net loss elsewhere.
The problem is that they don't have anyone leading that room right now.