Foxborough, MA– Of all the positions that the New England Patriots will have to evaluate during the 2019 off-season (which are very few, especially when considering that they just won a Super Bowl with their worst "on paper" roster of any championship), the one that is currently the weakest would be the wide receiver position.
Currently, New England's receiving corps consists of Julian Edelman, reigning Super Bowl MVP, Philip Dorsett, a solid heat check deep threat, Matthew Slater, a special teams stalwart, Braxton Berrios, Bruce Ellington, Maurice Harris, Damoun Patterson, virtual nonentities as they stand currently, but always with the ability to improve, and Demaryius Thomas, a recent free agent signing who may not even make it past training camp.
Suffice to say, the Patriots' group of receivers is among the league's worst, largely due to a number of free agent and trade-based flame outs that never quite worked in Bill Belichick's and Josh McDaniels's complex offensive system. However, a big problem with New England's receiving team is that they have never drafted well at the position. Their best pick of recent years, Malcolm Mitchell, just recently retired after injuries derailed his career. Compared to teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings, the Patriots have been positively abysmal at drafting targets for Tom Brady to throw to.
In the 2019 draft, New England will no doubt have receivers on their minds, but we will still have to wait and see if any of them end up as impact players. For now, New England is working with Edelman, Dorsett, and Thomas.
I'm not concerned about Edelman, of course. He's one of the league's best slot receivers and just carried the team on his back in Super Bowl LIII. A full season of him at Brady's side again is something that will be extremely invaluable for the team. Thomas, on the other hand, is a question mark. He has a good veteran presence, but it remains to be seen if his best days are behind him. As for Dorsett, he finished 2018 with 32 receptions for 290 yards and 3 touchdowns. He's a solid option, but obviously not a favorite of Brady's.
Lastly, of course, there is Josh Gordon. He's currently embroiled in yet another suspension, but he was showing flashes of promise with New England. He's always going to be a risk, but he's a good man and New England is not ready to part with him yet. Hopefully, he will find his way back into the receiving fold. Lord knows the Patriots need him.
Image via Wikimedia Commons / Jeffrey Beall