Robert Woods Is Patriots’ Best Option to Improve Passing Attack in NFL Draft

Robert WoodsRobert Woods isn’t the best wide receiver in this year’s NFL draft, but he is the best fit for the Patriots.

In three years at USC, Woods developed into a quick, shifty playmaker with the ability to break off the big play at any point. He was primarily used as a possession receiver in Lane Kiffin‘s offense, but was known for his wide catch radius and reliability on third-downs.

Remind you of anyone, Patriots fans?

Given his use and production at USC, Woods appears to be a bigger and faster version of Wes Welker. That should at least pique the interest of the Patriots, even after signing a similar-style player in Danny Amendola already. The presence of both receivers on the field wouldn’t be redundant, as some may expect, because each is capable of playing on the outside and posing a deep threat over the top.

Unlike some other potential Patriots receivers, Woods likely won’t be around long after the Patriots pick at No. 29. So, if they want him, they will have to make him a priority. That isn’t to say they wouldn’t be able to trade back a few spots and grab him — even in the early stages of the second round — but it would be a risk.

Woods has the smarts and skills that the Patriots are looking for in a receiver, and Tom Brady would surely enjoy another toy in the passing game.

Editor’s Note: NESN.com will evaluate and analyze one potential Patriots draft prospect every day from March 27 up until the start of the NFL Draft on April 25.Woods is the 26th player in that series.

Combine Measures:

Height/Weight: 6-feet, 201 pounds

40 Time: 4.51 seconds

 Vertical Jump:  33.5 inches

Key Stats:

Woods made a major impact upon his arrival at USC. He caught 65 passes for 792 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman, quickly establishing his place among the best receivers in the nation. He followed that up with a phenomenal sophomore season, breaking Keyshawn Johnson‘s USC single-season record with 111 receptions to go along with nearly 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was named a consensus first-team All American for his efforts in 2011. As a senior, Woods saw his role reduced slightly as the Trojans’ offense focused more attention on sophomore Marquise Lee. Woods still finished the season with 76 grabs for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Potential Impact:

Woods excelled in a complex pro-style offense while at USC, preparing him to step in and contribute right away at the NFL level. He has great versatility and an in-depth understanding of intricate route combinations, which should intrigue the Patriots as much as any team. He could be a starter from Day 1 on almost any team around the league, and the Patriots would immediately improve their offense with his addition.

Likelihood He’s Around at No. 29:

There is a chance. The wide receiver class in this year’s draft is pretty wide open. Aside from West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, there isn’t one guaranteed first-round talent. Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins and California’s Keenan Allen are all possibilities, but none are sure things. Woods is right in the thick of that group, and like them is a bit of a wild card. If he goes in the first, it will be somewhere in the 20s. So, the Rams (22nd overall), Vikings (23rd and 25th) and Texans (27th) are all possibilities to take him ahead of the Patriots.

Game Tape breakdown:

Strengths: Woods is a very good route runner, who uses deception to his advantage with quick and shifty movements. He stops on a dime and has a wide catch radius, making it easy for him to catch the ball on comebacks and back-shoulder throws. His 40-yard-dash time didn’t wow, but his quickness and acceleration creates a cushion on routes and out in space.

Weaknesses: He lacks the strength to create separation when being pressed at the line of scrimmage. He drops more passes than he should because of small hands and inconsistent focus. He also runs a lot of screen passes, but he isn’t terrific eluding defenders after the catch.

Scout Woods for yourself below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yo_Tpp1UJw

Next Up: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

Other potential prospects: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State | Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee | Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse  | Alex Okafor, DE, Texas | Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor | Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina | Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia | David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State | Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut Margus Hunt, DT, SMU | Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M | Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU | Barrett Jones, C, Alabama | DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson | Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State | Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech | Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama | Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia | Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers | Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State | Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State | D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston

Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

Photo via Facebook/Robert Woods

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