Do the New England Patriots already possess filling for their biggest roster hole?
Football Outsiders identified the wide receiver position as New England’s biggest post-2021 NFL Draft roster hole Thursday via ESPN. The Patriots seemingly bolstered their passing game in free agency, but Football Outsiders believe they still need help at receiver and named Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry as incumbents who must raise their game in 2021.
“Color us skeptical that seventh-rounder Tre Nixon of Central Florida is the balm that will soothe New England’s receiving woes,” Football Outsiders wrote. “The Patriots did upgrade their pass-catchers this offseason, signing tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry to massive deals, but they’ll have to have a wideout or two on the field occasionally.
“New England is betting heavily that Nelson Agholor’s shockingly good 2020 season (28.0 percent DVOA, fourth best in the league) is prelude and not outlier (three of his previous four seasons saw him rank outside the top 75). Their most-proven receiver might well be Kendrick Bourne, who became expendable in San Francisco. Julian Edelman is not walking through that door; now is the time for N’Keal Harry or Jakobi Meyers to step up.”
Meyers, an undrafted free agent, has been a pleasant surprise over two seasons, proving himself as a legitimate NFL wide receiver.
Conversely, Harry, the Patriots’ top draft pick in 2019, has disappointed in his first two years. He caught just 33 passes on 57 targets for 309 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games last season, and the Patriots reportedly have included him in trade talks this offseason.
If both Harry and Meyers rise to meet Football Outsiders’ demands, they’d represent productive complements to Agholor and Bourne and extend their careers in New England further. If Meyers and Harry fail at least to show signs of progress during the offseason and preseason, expect the Patriots to do what they can in order to bolster their options at receiver.