Leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, which runs from April 26-28, NESN.com will do a New England Patriots draft fits series. We’ll continue it with wide receivers.
A quick disclaimer: Non-elite athletes need not apply at wide receiver for the New England Patriots. The Patriots only draft the fastest, quickest, most agile and explosive wideouts.
The average NFL wide receiver runs a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, 1.56-second 10-yard split, 6.93-second 3-cone and 4.22-second short shuttle with a 35.3-inch vertical leap and 10-foot broad jump.
The average Patriots wide receiver drafted under Bill Belichick runs a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, 1.55-second 10-yard split, 6.88-second 3-cone and 4.17-second short shuttle with a 36.2-inch vertical leap and 10-foot, 2-inch broad jump.
With that in mind, here are the top receiver fits for the Patriots with each of their eight draft picks.
Round 1, 23rd Overall Pick: D.J. Moore, Maryland, 6 feet, 210 pounds
The Patriots have never drafted a wide receiver in the first round under Belichick, making this pick unlikely, but Moore is an exceptionally good fit.
He’s a fantastic athlete across the board, with a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, 1.54-second 10-yard-split, 6.95-second 3-cone, 4.07-second short shuttle, 39.5-inch vertical leap and 11-foot broad jump, and he has the ability stretch the field or work out of the slot.
Moore reportedly had an official pre-draft visit with the Patriots.
Round 1, 31st Overall Pick: DJ Chark, LSU, 6-foot-3, 199 pounds
If the Patriots are looking to replace Brandin Cooks as a deep threat in their offense, Chark’s 4.34-second 40-yard dash speed make him a great choice.
He caught 14 of 30 deep targets for 572 yards in 2017. He also dropped just two passes.
Round 2, 43rd Overall Pick: Dante Pettis, Washington, 6-foot-1, 186 pounds
Pettis returned an NCAA-record nine punt returns for touchdowns during his four-year career with the Huskies. He ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash with a 6.87-second 3-cone at his makeup pro day after recovering from an ankle injury. He dropped just three passes as a senior.
Round 2, 63rd Overall Pick: Deon Cain, Clemson, 6-foot-2, 202 pounds
Cain is the latest big, fast, speedy Clemson wideout to enter the draft. He ran a 4.43-second 40 with a 6.71-second 3-cone.
Pro Football Focus likes his ability to beat press coverages. He dropped five passes in 2017.
Round 3, 95th Overall Pick: Michael Gallup, Colorado State, 6-foot-1, 205 pounds
Gallup is a PFF favorite. He ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash with a 6.95-second 3-cone. He caught 100 passes for 1,413 yards with seven touchdowns in 2017. He picked up 250 yards on screens.
Round 6, 198th Overall Pick: Dylan Cantrell, Texas Tech, 6-foot-3, 226 pounds
Cantrell is a freak athlete at 226 pounds. He’s a fit athletically across the board for the Patriots with a 41-inch vertical, 11-foot, 3-inch broad jump, 4.44-second 40-yard dash (pro day), 1.55-second 10-yard split, 6.56-second 3-cone and 4.03-second short shuttle. He only dropped three passes in 2017 and was adept on contested catches, per PFF.
Round 6, 210th Overall Pick: Braxton Berrios, Miami, 5-foot-9, 184 pounds
If the Patriots are looking to replace Danny Amendola through the draft, then Berrios would be a solid choice for the slot.
With a 4.44-second 40, Berrios is faster than a typical Patriots slot receiver. His 6.72-second 3-cone time shows he has the quickness for the role.
He dropped just four passes in 2017 and spent 97.3 percent of his time in the slot, per PFF.
Round 7, 219th Overall Pick: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, USF, 6-foot-4, 206 pounds
Valdes-Scantling is a tremendous athlete — he ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash with a 6.85-second 3-cone — but he did have an issue with drops in 2017. He had nine drops on 93 targets.
Trade-up option: Calvin Ridley, Alabama, 6-foot-1, 189 pounds
It’s even more unlikely the Patriots will trade up for a receiver in the first round, but Ridley does come with the Nick Saban pedigree. He ran a 4.43-second 40 with a 6.88-second 3-cone.
He also apparently has “tight skin?”
Mid-round option: J’Mon Moore, Missouri, 6-foot-3, 207 pounds
After Cantrell and D.J. Moore, J’Mon Moore is the best athletic fit for the Patriots after running a 4.49-second 40-yard dash with a 6.56-second 3-cone and blazing 4.04-second short shuttle.
Moore picked up 391 yards on deep targets in 2017 and competed well on contested catches.