With their draft selection of Marshall wide receiver Aaron Dobson, the New England Patriots may have finally found the missing piece to their offensive attack: a big outside threat.
Dobson has all the physical traits you look for in an "X" receiver:
- Perfect size at 6'3'', 210 lbs
- Excellent top speed
- Great hands
- Outstanding leaping ability
However—as I'm sure Taylor Price or Chad Ochocinco would tell you—physical ability isn't enough to be successful in New England's complex offensive system.
Receivers need to know the playbook inside and out and have the ability to read defenses on the fly.
Patriots receivers need to have football intelligence.
You talk to him about what he did (on a certain play) and he can explain the techniques, the assignments, what other guys were doing at Marshall. He’s a pretty intelligent guy...he had a good understanding and grasp of learning, taking new information and processing that and being able to understand that and apply it.
Between his physical abilities and his cerebral understanding of the game, Dobson has a chance to make a real impact as a rookie for the Patriots.
Here's a closer look at what he brings to the offense.
An Outside Presence
Dobson does the majority of his work outside the numbers and can make big plays down the sideline, and that is exactly what he did against Florida International in the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.
Dobson finds himself in man-to-man on the outside and runs a "go" route down the sideline.
Though the coverage is fairly tight, Dobson maintains good position on the defender down the field.
Utilizing his size, Dobson displays outstanding hand-eye coordination here as he makes a ridiculous one-handed catch that results in a touchdown.
With all the attention Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Danny Amendola will draw to the middle of the field, Dobson's outside presence could be a major factor.
A Crafty Route-Runner
In this clip, Dobson runs a perfect deep comeback.
He really sells the "go" route here as his defender continues downfield and Dobson comes back to the ball.
Dobson is big and can get downfield, but he also uses his great footwork to create separation.
A Big-Play Threat
In this clip against West Virginia, Dobson gets deep on play action after selling a run block.
Dobson runs toward the middle of the field as if to engage the defender (who is thinking run) and then turns on the jets down the field while doing his best Randy Moss impression.
He gets behind the safeties with ease and reels in the football for a lengthy reception.
Despite his excellent 40-yard dash time (4.43, per CBSSports.com), Dobson isn't known as a burner, but as this clip illustrates, his speed is deceptive.
He doesn't look like he is going fast, but he is.
Given the lack of outside-receiver competition that he'll face, Dobson is likely going to have a chance to start right away in 2013.
The Patriots don't have the best track record when it comes to drafting wide receivers, but given his high level of talent and thorough football comprehension, Dobson might change that trend in 2013.
James is a New England Patriots featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @JamesDiMaio for more news and updates.