A.J. Green and Julio Jones are the draft's two superstar wide receivers, but there are another half-dozen wideouts who will go in the second and third rounds and have the ability to make an impact.
Pittsburgh's Jon Baldwin might be the guy worth targeting if things work out in their favor.
The 6-foot-4, 228-pounder caught 53 passes for 822 yards and five touchdowns during his junior season in 2010, but he dipped from his sophomore campaign, when he racked up 57 receptions for 1,111 yards and eight touchdowns.
Why the Patriots Would Want Him
Baldwin has the physical tools to be the answer as an outside receiver and someone who could really complement Wes Welker, Deion Branch and the tight ends. He’ll need some time to develop, but with his frame and athletic ability, he could be worth the wait. At his best, Baldwin could eventually become the Patriots’ primary outside target once they part with Branch.
Why the Patriots Might Stay Away
Baldwin has been inconsistent, both on the field and during his pre-draft workouts. He was apparently so-so at the combine but had a phenomenal showing at his pro day. Analysts also believe he looked disinterested in 2010, though Pitt’s down year could have contributed to that. Lastly, if the Patriots really believe in Brandon Tate and Taylor Price, they won’t need to use a high draft pick on another wideout who wouldn’t see much of the field.
Potential Impact in 2011
Rookie wide receivers rarely have a big impact, so Baldwin would battle with Tate and Price for reps as an outside receiver. Baldwin would also be an asset in four-wide sets. As a rookie, his ceiling would probably be 30 receptions in the Patriots’ system simply because of the competition and Tom Brady’s reliance on veterans.
What The Locals Are Saying
The truth behind Baldwin’s name change.
Where Can the Patriots Expect to Draft Baldwin?
Baldwin is most likely a second-round prospect, but it’s possible a team like the Ravens or Falcons could take him late in the first round. The Patriots have more important areas to address in the first round, but they could conceivably like him at No. 33, or maybe in the top-third of the second round if they trade back.
Every day through April 28, NESN.com will spotlight one player the Patriots could draft with one of their first three picks.
Friday, April 1: California defensive end Cameron Jordan
Saturday, April 2: North Carolina defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Quinn
Sunday, April 3: Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward
Monday, April 4: Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones
Tuesday, April 5: Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara
Wednesday, April 6: Alabama running back Mark Ingram
Thursday, April 7: Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo
Friday, April 8: Florida interior lineman Mike Pouncey
Saturday, April 9: Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi
Sunday: April 10: Georgia defensive end/outside linebacker Justin Houston
Monday, April 11: Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers
Tuesday, April 12: Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt
Wednesday, April 13: UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers
Thursday, April 14: USC tackle Tyron Smith
Friday, April 15: Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor
Saturday, April 16: Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod
Sunday, April 17: Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith
Monday, April 18: Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure
Tuesday, April 19: Villanova offensive lineman Benjamin Ijalana
Wednesday, April 20: Temple defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson
Thursday, April 21: Purdue defensive end/outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan
Saturday, April 23: Colorado tackle Nate Solder
Photo via Flickr/arthur.wessel