Teams in today’s NFL are only as good as the weapons surrounding their quarterback. If you’re the Buffalo Bills, you’re golden; if you’re the Chicago Bears; you’re porked.
So, how’s Mac Jones’ war chest looking these days?
Obviously, it still is too early in the season to offer definitive reviews of Patriots pass-catchers. However, after watching New England all summer and through two regular-season games, we feel confident in ranking Jones’ supporting cast based both on production and their level of trust with the Patriots quarterback.
(Note: We’re not including running backs in this list, regardless of what kind of role they have in the passing game.)
1. Jakobi Meyers, WR
An obvious choice. Meyers is Jones’ go-to receiver, especially on third downs. The fourth-year pro enjoyed an excellent training camp and, so far, has continued that success in the regular season. Meyers leads the Patriots in both receptions (13) and receiving yards (150) while also ranking third in the NFL in contested catches, per Pro Football Focus. Tough as nails, Meyers is admired by teammates and coaches alike and has become arguably the most important player on the offense other than Jones.
2. Nelson Agholor, WR
If we did these rankings at the end of last season, Agholor probably would’ve been near the bottom. But he and Jones put in a ton of work this offseason and it showed throughout training camp and the preseason. After a forgettable season opener, Agholor broke out last Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers with his best performance since arriving in New England, racking up six catches for 110 yards and one touchdown. Agholor brings speed and versatility to the offense, and Jones can’t say enough good things about him.
3. Kendrick Bourne, WR
Bourne earns the No. 3 spot despite his well-documented clashing with Patriots coaches and subsequent demotion in the offense. That’s because when Bourne actually is on the field, Jones seems to immediately look his way — and good results follow. Bourne only has seen 26 snaps on offense this season — two in Week 1 — but has turned the limited playing time into three catches on four targets for 57 yards. He’s a talented, explosive receiver whose role must increase moving forward.
4. Hunter Henry, TE
We clearly are relying on past performance here, as Henry essentially has done nothing in 2022. The veteran tight end was somewhat quiet throughout training camp but has been a total ghost through two weeks, seeing only four targets while catching two passes for 20 yards. Henry saw only one target against the Steelers and didn’t record a catch. The most baffling part is that, for whatever reason, Henry hasn’t been getting targeted in the red zone despite leading all tight ends with nine touchdowns last season. His usage surely will increase in the coming weeks… right?
5. Jonnu Smith, TE
Smith enjoyed an encouraging second training camp in New England but thus far has looked like the same player we saw in 2021. The athletic tight end is dangerous with the ball in his hands, but the Patriots seemingly remain disinterested in giving Smith a larger role in the passing game. The 27-year-old caught three passes for 33 yards in Week 1 but came up empty in Week 2 after being targeted three times. Dreams of New England running a dynamic two-tight end offense are all but gone.
6. DeVante Parker, WR
The Patriots’ marquee offseason addition has done a whole of nothing through two weeks. Parker has played 109 offensive snaps (87%) but only has been targeted four times. Two of those targets resulted in interceptions, with another falling incomplete and one resulting in a nine-yard catch. Parker and Jones haven’t appeared on the same page — which is a major concern at this point.
7. Lil’Jordan Humphrey, WR
Humphrey was a casualty of roster cutdown after being a preseason standout. However, the receiver-tight end hybrid was elevated from the practice squad for Week 1 and later signed to the 53-man roster to replace the injured Ty Montgomery. And Humphrey has impressed in his role, showing great skills as a run blocker and even catching one pass for 11 yards. He could’ve scored a long touchdown against the Steelers had Jones seen him wide open down the field. While you could argue for Humphrey being higher on this list, the reality is he’s at the bottom of the depth chart — for now.
N/A: Tyquan Thornton, WR
We’re not ranking Thornton, but he still should be mentioned. The 2022 second-round pick was enjoying an impressive first training camp before suffering a fractured clavicle during the preseason. Thornton was placed on short-term injured reserve, meaning he must sit out the first four weeks. It’ll be interesting to see if the ultra-fast wideout picks up where he left off upon returning.