The New England Patriots addressed their clear need at wide receiver Tuesday when they signed Demaryius Thomas. But Thomas, coming off of a torn Achilles that capped an already down season, doesn’t definitively answer the Patriots’ questions at the position.
Behind Julian Edelman, the Patriots have Thomas, Phillip Dorsett, Braxton Berrios, Bruce Ellington, Maurice Harris, Damoun Patterson, Matthew Slater and Josh Gordon, who’s indefinitely suspended, on their wide receiver depth chart. That’s still not pretty.
We expect Bill Belichick to select two wideouts in the 2019 NFL Draft. We also wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots acquired another veteran player via trade or through free agency.
Leading up to the draft, which runs from April 25-27, we’ll go position by position and draft a player who fits the Patriots in each round. We tackled quarterbacks Monday and running backs Tuesday. Now we’ll focus on wide receivers.
Picks: No. 32
A.J. Brown, Mississippi
At 6-foot, 226 pounds, Brown has the frame of a running back but the speed, quickness and agility of a slot receiver. He did the majority of his work out of the slot in 2018 but also showed the versatility to line up outside. Given his size and athleticism, we believe he could play the X, Z and slot positions in the Patriots’ offense.
He ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash with a 7-second three-cone. That’s impressive since he’s the fifth-heaviest receiver in the 2019 draft class.
Alternate choice: Parris Campbell, Ohio State
Campbell is more of a slot playmaker than a refined receiver.
Picks: Nos. 56, 64
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
Samuel is another slot receiver with the build of a running back. He’s 5-foot-11, 214 pounds and ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash, 7.03-second three-cone drill and 4.14-second short shuttle. He returned 42 kicks in college and brought back four of them for touchdowns.
Alternate choice: Andy Isabella, UMass
Isabella can play inside or outside and ran a 4.27-second hand-timed 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Picks: Nos. 73, 97, 101
Mecole Hardman, Georgia
Hardman has similar physical traits to Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett with more positional versatility. He did the majority of his work out of the slot in 2019. He ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash with a 6.75-second three-cone at 5-foot-10, 183 pounds. He also returned punts and kicks.
Alternate choice: Miles Boykin, Notre Dame
At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Boykin ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash with a 1.54-second 10-yard split, 43.5-inch vertical leap, 11-foot, 8-inch broad jump, 6.77-second three-cone and 4.07-second short shuttle.
Picks: No. 134
David Sills, West Virginia
Sills isn’t quite as good of an athlete as many of these players, but his smarts make up for it. He’s a former quarterback who might be top in his class at reading a defense. At 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, he ran a 6.97-second three-cone with a 4.28-second short shuttle and 37.5-inch vertical leap.
Alternate choice: Terry McLaurin, Ohio State
Athletically, McLaurin is nearly a perfect fit for the Patriots.
Hunter Renfrow, Clemson
Folks have been projecting Renfrow to the Patriots since he arrived at Clemson. He’s not a speed demon, but his 6.80-second three-cone drill is a fit for the Patriots.
Alternate choice: Jalen Guyton, North Texas
Guyton would be a project as a perimeter receiver worth the investment for his athleticism.
Picks: No. 205
Jalen Hurd, Baylor
The Patriots brought in Hurd for a pre-draft visit. He played running back and wide receiver in college at 6-foot-5, 228 pounds. He ran an impressive 4.15-second short shuttle.
Alternate choice: Jon’Vea Johnson, Toledo
On 18 deep targets, Johnson caught 10 passes for 380 yards with seven (!) touchdowns.
Picks: Nos. 243, 246, 252
Dillon Mitchell, Oregon
Oregon quarterbacks had a 112 passer rating targeting Mitchell out of the slot and 124.7 targeting Mitchell on deep passes. At 6-foot-1, 197 pounds, Mitchell ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash with a 6.93-second three-cone and 4.29-second short shuttle.
Alternate choice: DeAndre Thompkins, Penn State
Another good athlete, Thompkins ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash at 5-foot-11, 192 pounds.