Jokes were made at the Patriots wide receiver corps’ expense for a reason last week, and New England addressed their lack of depth by reportedly adding Isaiah Ford from the Miami Dolphins at the NFL trade deadline.
Casual NFL fans looked at the Patriots’ active wide receivers — Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski and Isaiah Zuber — last week and rightfully said, “who the heck are these guys?” Ford isn’t exactly a household name, but he’ll help, and he barely cost anything (reportedly a 2022 seventh-round pick).
With N’Keal Harry (concussion) out and Julian Edelman (knee) on injured reserve, the Patriots allowed themselves to get in a precarious position with Olszewski, a punt returner, and Zuber, a practice-squad player, thrust into primary roles.
Now Ford, a fourth-year pro who has more career receiving yards than Harry, Olszewski and Zuber combined, can be that much-needed No. 3 receiver until Harry and Edelman return, and the No. 4 or 5 option when and if everyone gets healthy.
Here are the vitals on Ford: He’s 6-foot-2, 194 pounds and was selected by the Dolphins in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Virginia Tech. He has 41 career receptions on 65 targets for 428 yards. He also has an 11-yard carry.
He ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash with a 1.59-second 10-yard split, 6.94-second 3-cone drill, 4.29-second short shuttle, 35.5-inch vertical leap and 10-feet, 6-inch broad jump before the 2017 NFL Draft at 6-foot-1, 194 pounds.
He has fairly similar testing numbers to Meyers who ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash with a 1.56-second 10-yard split, 6.87-second 3-cone drill, 4.23-second short shuttle, 37-inch vertical leap and 9-feet, 10-inch broad jump at 6-foot-2, 203 pounds.
Ford, similar to Meyers, has experience playing out wide and in the slot. He played 152 snaps out wide and 68 in the slot in 2019. Through seven games this season, he’s played 207 snaps in the slot and 10 out wide.
Meyers has been the Patriots’ best wide receiver this season. So, there’s some logic in adding his clone. Ford could prove better than Meyers at making contested catches.
Ford has flashed solid hands in his NFL career, dropping just three passes on 65 targets.
Until Harry returns, the Patriots can use Byrd as one outside receiver option, and then Ford and Meyers could toggle between the other outside spot and in the slot. When Harry is back, then the Patriots might have to reshuffle and decide who’s more valuable between their 2019 first-round pick and Ford.
At this point, we won’t hold our breath on an Edelman return since he’s currently on injured reserve after undergoing a procedure on his knee. If he returns, he might be best suited for a No. 4 receiver role similar to the spot Danny Amendola used to hold as a passing-game and third-down specialist.
Trading for Isaiah Ford isn’t exactly a splash move by the Patriots, but it could prove to be a smart one. He adds another dependable weapon into the Patriots’ pass-catching ranks when they desperately needed one.