Many were hoping the Patriots would make a big push in free agency to snag a top receiver that was available. It inevitably didn’t happen, but they were able to make a trade for former Dolphin DeVante Parker.
He’s certainly not the star people were hoping for, and there’s still a belief Bill Belichick will draft a receiver high this year. However, Parker adds some much-needed help to the current WR group.
There are a few interesting prospects the Patriots could get their hands on early in the draft if they choose to do so. Because N’Keal Harry is likely on his way out, filling his spot with a proven productive and speedy player would be ideal.
Most of those available will be gone by round two, though. And with so many needs to be dealt with in this draft Belichick may wait until later rounds. But these are a few more names the team should evaluate and consider come draft day.
To see how receivers Jameson Williams, Chris Olave, and John Metchie III would fit with the Patriots, click here!
Treylon Burks – University of Arkansas
There has been a lot of talk regarding the wide receiver class entering the draft this year, with certain names being discussed much more than others. Because of this, Treylon Burks has quietly flown under the radar. But that doesn’t negate his potential to be a WR1 for any team, especially the Patriots.
A four-star recruit out of high school, Burks made a splash his freshman year at Arkansas, earning a spot on the all-SEC freshman team. Come his sophomore year, he impressed, even more, when he showcased his talent as not only a receiver but also a running back. His dynamic play once again resulted in an all-SEC second-team nomination.
Although he hasn’t been hyped as much before the draft, Burks is one of the more physical and athletic receivers in this class. In his 2021 season, Burks totaled 1,104 yards with an average YPR of 16.7 and 14 touchdowns. He also rushed for 112 yards on 14 carries with one score.
New England has been missing a receiver that can consistently succeed in creating space, while also being a deep-field threat. One of his biggest strengths has been that of YAC, averaging 9.3 yards after the catch per reception.
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He has the natural ability to play through tackles and beat man-to-man coverage, much due to his size. Burks presence creates mismatches for his quarterback, which would be something Mac Jones hasn’t had yet during his pro career.
Adding a big-bodied receiver, who’s trying to emulate his game after 49ers’ Deebo Samuel, should skyrocket Burks to the top of the Patriots’ draft board. Selecting him to play alongside the current WR group, plus Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith could make the Patriots an offensive threat once again.
Drake London – University of Southern California
If adding a big third-down target and a red-zone weapon is what the Patriots are (and should be) looking for, Drake London is the perfect guy. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, London creates a tough matchup for any defensive player trying to contain him.
During his time at USC, he made quite the impact on the football field with his consistent improvement every year. His 2021 season was most noteworthy. In just eight games, he totaled 1,084 yards on 88 receptions and seven touchdowns.
His dominant play style made it easy for his quarterback to make explosive plays, finishing his college career with a total QB rating of 115.0 when targeted.
London is another great deep-threat option and his contested-catch ability is phenomenal. He’s a strong runner with a natural ability to gain separation, a weak point for the Patriots’ receivers in recent years.
He has the understanding of how to attack defenses, helping him create plays that may not have been seen. The ease in which he plays has made him nearly unstoppable at times. And with the help of Belichick and co.’s coaching, he could be their WR1 in no time.
If New England can build upon an already solid foundation within London, they could develop the explosive WR core they’ve hoped to have.
Slade Bolden – University of Alabama
A favorite among New England fans, Slade Bolden feels like a destined future Patriot. Not only does he have the Alabama connection with quarterback Mac Jones. But he also has been coached by former Patriots’ OC Bill O’Brien.
Because of his familiarity with the Patriot’s current QB, selecting Bolden may be the right move for Belichick. Could he and Jones be the college QB to the WR duo so many want to see again in the NFL?
When catching passes from Jones in 2020, Bolden ended the season with 24 receptions for 270 yards and one touchdown. Playing behind some of the best receivers in all of college football didn’t allow him to get more opportunities.
But his connection with the current Patriots’ quarterback is undeniable. The chemistry between the two is already there, just needing to be re-sparked in the NFL.
Although his time at Alabama wasn’t the most remarkable, Bolden possesses a lot of what the Patriots look for in a player. I mean, how can you pass on a guy who models his game after Julian Edelman?
Also a converted high school quarterback, Bolden works as a punt returner as well. This could become a key part of his selection with Brandon Bolden and Gunner Olszewski’s departures.
Bolden is a dependable and tough player with great hands and versatility. He’s a true competitor with the potential to develop into a great piece of the Patriots’ offense. With the stamp of approval from Alabama’s head coach and long-time friend of Belichick, Nick Saban, it’s difficult to see Bolden not ending up in Foxboro.
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