Patriots draft targets: 16 wide receivers who could be on New England’s radar

The New England Patriots wide receiver position was mixed in 2021. While Jakobi Meyers and free agency acquisition Kendrick Bourne showed impressive chemistry with rookie quarterback Mac Jones, the performances of the rest of the group ranged from top to bottom to virtually non-existent.

As a result, the Patriots went out and added some help: New England acquired former first-round pick DeVante Parker via a trade from the Miami Dolphins. With Parker and all-around free agency pickup Ty Montgomery in the fold, the position group currently looks like this:

  • Jakobi Meyers: 26 | Signed until 2022
  • Kendrick Bourne: 27 | Signed until 2023
  • DeVante Parker: 29 | Signed until 2023
  • Nelson Agholor: 29 | Signed until 2022
  • N’Keal Harry: 25 | Signed until 2022
  • Ty Montgomery: 29 | Signed until 2023
  • Kristian Wilkerson: 25 | Signed until 2022
  • Tre Nixon: 24 | Signed until 2022
  • Malcolm Perry: 25 | Signed until 2022
  • Matthew Slater: 37 | Signed until 2022

While the top of the depth chart seems set in stone, the Patriots remain in the market for a wide receiver assist. They could look at the remaining free agent crop or the trade market, but more likely than not they’ll go the draft route if they want to improve the position’s depth and long-term prospects.

Luckily for New England, there are several players who would match what the team is looking for throughout the draft. They could approach the position in the first round or wait for later additions.

(For clarity: players are listed alphabetically in their respective groups)

Exchange goals

Drake London, USC: London offers an intriguing combination of size and athleticism and, as a result, should be one of the first, if not the first, wide receiver to come off the board this year. It’s debatable whether or not the Patriots will move up the table to get him, but if he falls within their range, that would at least be a consideration: London, after all, would give Mac Jones a high perimeter goal that has serious Potential WR1.

Jameson Williams, Alabama: Despite a torn ACL suffered in the national championship game in January, Williams will be drafted in the first round later this month. His breakthrough speed, after all, will challenge defenses and give the team adding him a serious deep threat that can stretch the field and open up space below. Adding him to New England’s passing game would instantly make them a better one. | Complete profile project

Garrett Wilson, ohio state: A precise road runner who offers massive yardage after the catch, Wilson joins Drake London and Jameson Williams as the top three receiver prospects this year. His agility is top notch and he has a knack for opening up against all types of defensive backs or covers. An argument can be made that no other wide in this year’s draft class has such a high floor and is as ready for the pros as he is.

Targets at No. 21

Treylon Burks, Arkansas: Burks comes with clear question marks related to his run and overall brutality, but his combination of size and speed is legit. If the Patriots feel comfortable with his development and how to use him — he might be better served in a Cordarrelle Patterson-type role — they might just invest their first-round pick in him.

Chris Olave, Ohio State: A lack of height – he was 6ft 0, 187lbs at the Combine – and playing strength will hurt Olave in some eyes, but he’s still a very good player capable of becoming number one at the next level. After all, he’s a high-level player who can slip right into a starting Z-receiver role at the next level and be productive right away with his all-round skills and technical proficiency. | Complete profile project

Objectives for day 2

Jahan Dotson, State of Pennsylvania: Dotson may not have the size and strength of other top-tier wide players, but he is a dynamic player capable of making a difference at the NFL level. His point guard skills out of the slot would make him a potential long-term replacement for Jakobi Meyers if the Patriots don’t retain him next offseason.

John Metchie III, Alabama: Metchie combines good hands with advanced runs and has experience with Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. However, its average size and speed, as well as the fact that it comes out of a torn ACL, will hurt this stock project. New England would get a reliable but not necessarily flashy player when drafted.

Skyy Moore, West Michigan: Moore has “go-to-guy” written all over him due to his dependable hands and shrewd driving. He’ll serve as safety cover and a priority target on must-play plays at the next level — two things New England still lacks despite the promise the Jones-Bourne and Jones-Meyers connections showed last year. | Complete profile project

Alec Pierce, Cincinnati: Even though his course tree is limited and there will be questions about his ability to compete with press cornerbacks, Pierce is an intriguing target for Day 2 due to his upside. He has the size and the speed to become a productive outside receiver and challenge defenses from deep.

George Pickens, Georgia: A torn ACL suffered in spring training last year limited Pickens to just five catches for 107 yards in his four in-game appearances last year. That said, his potential is huge and he has shown how to hold his own against some of the best cornerbacks in the country. A fluid athlete who can line up in any formation, the 21-year-old is a wide player with high potential.

Christian Watson, State of North Dakota: Arguably the highest-ceilinged wide receiver in the class this year, Watson’s potential is off the charts. He has the size and the speed to become a legit WR1 at the next level. His FCS experience makes him a bit of an uncertain projection, but he could be worth the investment for a team with an established cast of wide-receiver characters already under contract. | Complete profile project

Day 3 Goals/Free Agency Goals

Calvin Austin III, Memphis: Standing under 5-foot-8 and weighing just 170 pounds, Austin is undersized by conventional standards. That said, his speed is terrific and he can get the better of a defense when attacking downfield. His potential as a comeback man cannot be denied either.

Great Britain Covey, Utah: A low-capped Calvin Austin, Covey projects himself as a late-round selection that needs to be used properly to succeed in the NFL. One way to maximize his strengths – acceleration and vision – is to use him in the rematch. | Complete profile project

Slade Bolden, Alabama: Bolden knows how to open up in the short and middle parts of the court and has some experience with Mac Jones from their time together in Alabama. While his limited athleticism may hurt his prospects, he could become a strong but unspectacular powerhouse in the NFL. | Complete profile project

Bo Melton, Rutgers: Melton’s production at Rutgers was nothing to write home about, but he’s a savvy road runner who has the burst from the line of scrimmage needed to succeed against NFL-level cornerbacks. If used properly, he could become a productive possession receiver for an offense like the Patriots.

Kyle Phillips, UCLA: Likely an earlier pick on Day 3, Phillips could come in and contribute right away. Not only is he an experienced running back, but he also offers the running skills and physique necessary to become a starting slot receiver in the NFL.

The trade to acquire DeVante Parker didn’t solve all of New England’s wide receiver issues, but it did give the team some flexibility going into the draft. A top-four position of Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor is pretty solid, especially against the backdrop of an offense that will also feature Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith in 2022.

As a result, the Patriots not picking a wide receiver in the first round wouldn’t come as a surprise. Instead, waiting for day 2 or maybe even day 3 to approach the position is a realistic outcome. The goal, after all, isn’t necessarily to find a wide receiver who can start right away, but rather a player to become a contributor while still on a rookie contract – possibly taking over for Meyers or Agholor if they do. are leaving as free agents next spring. .