Looking for a wide receiver who could make sense for the New England Patriots in the later rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft? Look no further than Slade Bolden.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the 5-foot-11, 194-pound slot receiver revealed that he:
— Roomed with current Patriots quarterback Mac Jones while the two were teammates at Alabama
— Modeled his game after Patriots legend Julian Edelman
— Would talk with Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien (who previously held the same role in New England) about how the Patriots used Wes Welker, who still holds the all-time franchise record for receptions
— Met with the Patriots at this year’s combine
Playing behind some of the best receivers in the nation, Bolden posted modest stats at Alabama, setting career highs this past season with 42 catches for 408 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games. Together with Jones in 2020, he caught 24 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown, with that score coming in the national championship game. He’ll be selected far later than fellow Alabama wideouts Jameson Williams and John Metchie — both potential Patriots targets, as well — if he’s drafted at all.
But Bolden, who will complete his on-field combine workout on Thursday, boasts many of the traits New England typically looks for in its late-round fliers.
He might not boast Edelman’s elite short-area quickness, but he’s been praised for his sure hands and toughness — necessary traits for an inside receiver. He’s also a converted high school quarterback who played some Wildcat QB for the Crimson Tide and was a standout on special teams, including work as a punt returner (21 career returns, 148 yards). Bolden even played some safety early in his collegiate career.
The Alabama connection doesn’t hurt, either, as the Patriots have drafted six players from that juggernaut program in the last seven drafts, including each of their first two 2021 selections (Jones and defensive tackle Christian Barmore). Bolden and Jones remain close.
“He’s a very consistent, dependable player in so many ways,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said of Bolden in December, via Bama Central. “He’s an outstanding special teams player. He does a really good job for us in the passing game. He plays with toughness. He’s a really good competitor.”
Sounds like a Patriot.
Bolden wouldn’t address New England’s need for a No. 1 receiver, but he’d be a logical addition to that position group.