Why the New England Patriots Absolutely Must Draft Aaron Dobson
With Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd gone, the Patriots find themselves in a bit of a bind at the wide receiver position.
The club did sign Danny Amendola, Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins, but Amendola is really the only guy that projects to have a substantial role going forward, and given his injury history, even that is risky business.
It goes without saying that New England is in dire need of wide receivers, and Dobson would provide a hefty boost to the current group.
Between Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Amendola, the Patriots' offense is going to draw plenty of defensive attention to the middle of the field.
Whoever plays the split-end role, or the "X" wide receiver, is going to find himself with man-to-man coverage more often than not. The Pats need a guy who can consistently win one-on-one battles on the outside.
That is just what Dobson can do for them.
At 6'3'', Dobson is a big target who possesses an impressive blend of physicality, speed (ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at his Pro Day per Walterfootball.com) and acrobatic athleticism.
NEPatriotsDraft.com, a website that rigorously breaks down draft prospects, ranks Dobson as the 8th best wide receiver in this year's draft class, pointing out strengths in his game:
[He] has made some of the most amazing catches ever seen on the football field...Incredibly strong hands, plucks the ball out of the air at its highest point...Controls body in the air, makes tough catches look routine...Physical enough to beat press coverage, able to get a clean release...Plus awareness on the field, knows the down/distance, finds the sticks.
There is clearly a lot to like about the former Marshall standout, but what is most impressive is his ridiculously reliable hands.
According to John Pollard of STATS.com via Twitter, Dobson had the best hands in college football last season—he didn't drop a single pass.
Back on the grid. Top prospect WRs ranked by best (lowest) Drop %. Min 40 Pass Targets in 2012. twitter.com/JPSTATS/status…— JohnPollard (@JPSTATS) March 29, 2013
The Pats could have done without a couple drops in recent history, if you know what I mean (too soon?).
In addition to his sure hands, Marshall has good speed, but he isn't overly dependent on it.
Dobson can also create separation by selling double moves and getting in between the ball and the defender—which he does marvelously against top-rated cornerback Desmond Trufant in the video above.
It's not perfect all the time, but Dobson uses crafty footwork and great ankle flexion to create space at the end of his routes.
When he's in tight coverage, he often out jumps and out muscles corners for the football—he truly fights for the ball.
The Pats have one big fighter in Rob Gronkowski, but could certainly use another, especially on the outside.
With highly-touted receivers like Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson unlikely to be available when the Patriots pick at No. 29, the value for wide receivers should be in the second round where guys with first-round talentlike Dobson—whose biggest knock is that he didn't compete against top talent regularly—should be available.
The Patriots currently have the No. 59 overall draft selection in the second round and may use their first-round pick to trade back for more picks.
Obtaining Dobson should be doable.
Despite having underwhelming talent throwing him the ball, Dobson put together a fantastic career at Marshall, including a 16-plus yards-per-catch average (per ESPN).
Imagine what he could do with Tom Brady throwing him the ball.
If the Pats do what they should and draft Dobson in a few weeks, we may not have to imagine for long.
To stay up-to-date on all New England Patriots NFL draft and free-agency activity, be sure to follow James on Twitter @JamesDiMaio.
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