Evaluating the New England Patriots' New-Look Receiving Corps
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The spotlight will definitely be on Danny Amendola, as he fills the void at slot for Welker. Amendola signed a five-year contract worth $31 million with the Pats in March.
With the St. Louis Rams, Amendola did not provide any jaw-dropping numbers (196 catches for 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns in four seasons). Yet, neither did Welker before he put on a Patriot uniform.
Like Welker, Amendola has been a factor as a return man and in the slot. At 27-years-old, the Pats new slot receiver likely has far more left in the tank than Welker, now a member of the Denver Broncos.
Expect Brady and Amendola to click right away. He will be used much like how Welker had been used over the past six seasons, with many slants and passes over the middle. Amendola will be used very often with quick passes and screens.
As long as he stays healthy, after playing in just 12 games in the past two seasons, Amendola will fit right in with the Pats offense and put up career numbers.
The Patriots next best options at receiver may, in fact, be rookies. Recent Pats' draftees Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce have a strong chance to become major factors in the passing game immediately.
Dobson, taken with the No. 59 overall pick in Round 2, has the most potential of all receivers on the Patriots roster.
His 6'3" frame is exactly what the team needed at this position: a tall, athletic outside receiver. Dobson has an excellent pair of hands and can make some very difficult catches look easy.
As a senior with the Marshall Thundering Herd, Dobson impressively recorded zero dropped passes. He has tremendous upside, and he will get a chance to become a starter right away for the Pats.
Boyce, selected in Round 4, had a very solid career with the TCU Horned Frogs. He gathered 2,535 yards during his college career, finishing No. 2 in school history.
The Patriots got great value with this pick. Boyce is very fast, posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.38 seconds at the NFL Combine. He also has great strength for a receiver, putting up 22 reps in the bench press at the Combine, as well.
"I'm really smart so I think I can pick up things pretty quick," Boyce told Boston.com.
If Boyce can use his wits to get used to the team's system quickly, then that would be a huge plus for the Patriots.
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The Pats also added veteran Michael Jenkins, who played for the Minnesota Vikings last season, and Donald Jones from the Buffalo Bills. Also, the team re-signed receiver Julian Edelman, who plays a key role on special teams as well.
Edelman has been a great return man for the Pats and could get more opportunities on offense this season. In 2012, Edelman caught three touchdowns before a foot injury ended his season early.
Jones hauled in four touchdowns with the Bills in 2012, his best season thus far. Jenkins was not spectacular in 2012 with just two touchdowns, but if the Pats hold on to him, the 6'4" receiver could be a backup deep threat.
Though the faces may have changed, the high production of the Patriots offense will remain the same this season.
With a promising group of receivers, strong running game, two great tight ends and Tom Brady under center, this offense will continue to be one of the league's best.
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