It was really only a matter of time before the New England Patriots snagged Braxton Berrios in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Let’s just say Berrios looks the part of a scrappy, gritty, deceptively fast, lunch-pail receiver in the mold of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Wes Welker. Oh, and Troy Brown.
But will Berrios follow in the path of Edelman, Amendola, Welker and Brown rather than, say, Jeremy Ebert, Jeremy Gallon and T.J. Moe? There’s a good chance.
Berrios was drafted higher than Ebert and Gallon, and Moe was just an undrafted free agent. Berrios also certainly has the athleticism for the position in the Patriots’ offense.
Here are Berrios’ pre-draft testing numbers, compared to Edelman, Amendola and Welker’s.
Weight: 184 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.44 seconds
10-yard split: 1.58 seconds
Bench reps: 11
Vertical jump: 36 inches
Broad jump: 9 foot, 2 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.18 seconds
3-cone drill: 6.72 seconds
Weight: 195 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.52 seconds
10-yard split: 1.52 seconds
Bench reps: 14
Vertical jump: 36.5 inches
Broad jump: 10 foot, 3 inches
20-yard shuttle: 3.92 seconds
3-cone drill: 6.62 seconds
Weight: 183 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds
10-yard split: 1.51 seconds
Bench reps: 13
Vertical jump: 31.5 inches
Broad jump: 8 foot, 7 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.25 seconds
3-cone drill: 6.81 seconds
Weight: 195 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.65 seconds
Vertical jump: 30 inches
Broad jump: 9 foot, 5 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.01 seconds
3-cone drill: 7.09 seconds
So, Berrios basically is Welker’s size with Edelman’s leaping ability and Amendola’s quickness with more speed than any of them. He has deceptively elite speed.
He also has a solid pair of hands. He dropped just four passes in 2017 as a senior captain with the Hurricanes, according to Pro Football Focus. Two of those drops came on deep passes. We’re not just stereotyping Berrios as a slot receiver, either: He played inside on 97.3 percent of snaps in 2017.
Watch film of Berrios from 2017 and you can quickly see why he’s being compared to great Patriots slot receivers of the past and present.
Does this pivot route look familiar?
Berrios isn’t quite as sharp of a route runner at this point in his football career as Edelman, Amendola and Welker, but who is? A little coaching from offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea and maybe even Edelman can fix that.
Still, Berrios is a good route runner (wait for the replay).
It’s also reasonable to assume Berrios will improve with more experience. He had just seven starts, 45 catches, 496 yards and five touchdowns to his name before breaking out as a senior in 2017, when he caught 55 passes for 679 yards with nine touchdowns.
He doesn’t have long arms, but he’s not afraid to extend them and make a catch away from his body.
He also attacks the ball rather than waiting for it to arrive, which is key in New England’s offense.
He can haul in receptions in traffic, as well. Often times, slot receivers find themselves wide open. So, it’s nice to see he can make a catch while well-covered.
Berrios uses a quick juke off the line of scrimmage to get open on this touchdown.
He employs a quick head fake inside to beat Florida State’s defensive back on this play (wait for the replay).
Oh, and have we mentioned he returns punts?
Berrios returned 47 punts for 488 yards with one touchdown in his college career.
He showed good patience and vision on this return against Florida State. The Patriots’ current punt return options are Berrios, Edelman, fellow slot receiver Riley McCarron and cornerback Cyrus Jones, who’s no lock to make the 53-man roster.
Berrios was a willing blocker in the run and pass game at Miami. We didn’t get the sense he was overly electric after the catch, though. He averaged 4.8 yards after catch per completion in 2017. Danny Amendola averaged 3.3 yards after catch per completion in 2017 while Edelman averaged 5 yards after catch per completion in 2016.
The Patriots’ offense isn’t exactly predicated on picking up huge yards after the catch.
Berrios certainly has the attributes needed out of a Patriots slot receiver, but he has a ton of competition to even make the 53-man roster. Edelman, Chris Hogan and Matthew Slater are locks for the rest, but then there’s a pack of nine receivers completing for three, maybe four roster spots that includes Berrios, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett, Cody Hollister, Chris Lacy, Jordan Matthews, Riley McCarron, Malcolm Mitchell and Cordarrelle Patterson.
Our advice for Berrios to make the 53? Randomly show up at Tom Brady’s house in Montana this summer and get well acquainted with Alex Guerrero.
Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images