As the 2021 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots’ radar or that we feel would be a great fit.
The Patriots have a huge need at wide receiver coming into the 2021 season. Simply put they have no one that will keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night. There is no one on the roster who offers yards-after-catch YAC.
Currently, the players on the roster include Julien Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Marquise Lee with Devin Smith, Isaiah Zuber, and Kristian Wilkerson signed to a futures contract.
Edelman will be 35 in 2021 and as great a player as he’s been for the Patriots, it is getting time to look elsewhere, especially for a player who carries more than a $6 million dollar cap hit. Lee never played a down for the team as he opted out due to the coronavirus. Meyers turned into a legitimate target but offers very little in YAC.
The Patriots need a huge influx of speed and athleticism to the position and make things a bit easier on their QB, whoever that is in 2021. They have money to spend in free agency but until the QB situation is settled, with a minimum of having a bridge QB, it will be hard to attract good free agent WRs to New England. So, we’ll take a look at the draft and who, if they are willing would be available in Round 1.
Earlier we looked at Florida WR Kadarius Toney, and Rashod Bateman from Minnesota today we’ll take a look at another possible option from the Pac 12.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC, is another intriguing prospect to watch. In what is a very deep wide receiver class in the 2021 NFL Draft pool, St. Brown had been flying somewhat under the radar, but that is changing, and his draft stock is rising.
St. Brown made an immediate impact as a true freshman and logged 60 catches for 750 yards and 3 TDs in 11 games for the Trojans. As a sophomore, his production grew to 77 catches for 1042 yards and 7 TDs while showing the versatility of carrying the ball on the ground as well as returning punts. In his final, albeit shortened season due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, St. Brown garnered 41 catches for 478 yards and 4 TDs in just six games while returning punts, running the ball on the ground, and even returning a couple of kickoffs.
St. Brown is a versatile wide receiver who was used mainly in the slot in his first two seasons, but played more than double the snaps outside the numbers in 2020 (116 in the slot, 293 wide).
He is 6’1, 195 which fits in well with a player who can play in the slot or outside. He has good but not great speed, (expected to test in the 4.4 range), but is very twitchy and agile, running great routes, and comes out of his breaks quickly. He has outstanding tracking ability and can adjust, high-point the ball. With the excellent leaping ability and strong hands, he won a majority of 50/50 passes.
He has the toughness needed for the slot and will go into the tough places in the middle of the field and despite his lack of dominant size is a willing, if not at times devastating downfield blocker.
– Outstanding route-runner, with sharp cuts
– Versatile, can line up in the slot, outside, and return kicks
– Very strong hands and ability to catch contested balls is his best trait
– He is an effective pass catcher in all (short, intermediate, deep), levels of the field
– Speed is good but not elite
– He has average length, with a slightly lean frame
What his Role Will Be:
St. Brown has the ability to step in and become the starting slot receiver if Julian Edelman retires
Will His Role Change from Year 1-2?
Yes, he would be the Patriots ultimate replacement for Edelman and his familiarity with the offense grows, the coaches will move him around more to create matchups
How Many Downs Can He Play?
What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?
Damiere Byrd who is a free agent
What is his ST Value?
Good, he has experience as a punter returner and a little bit as a KR at USC
St. Brown is just 21 years old and has both a high ceiling and a high floor. He has the route-running savvy that is rare for someone his age, and is athletic, with excellent football intelligence to be a quality slot receiver who can also play outside the numbers.
He has shown the ability to adjust when plays break down and run routes back to the QB. He has the quick-twitch ability to beat press coverage at the line, very good athleticism, can catch contested passes. He has the alpha-dog mentality and is a willing, tenacious blocker. Something the Patriots covet in their WRs.
NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, had this to say about St. Brown.
“One trait almost every elite WR possesses- toughness. One of the main reasons I love USC’s Amon-Ra St. Brown. He does the dirty work in the middle of the field and he’s a very angry blocker… He is fun to watch”
A highlight film for St. Brown from USC Athletics (watch his blocking at 0:15) can be seen here: <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/t8ovuSAn3EQ” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Draft
Tags: Amon-Ra St. Brown Bill Belichick Gunner Olszewski Jakobi Meyers Julian Edelman N'Keal Harry New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots wide receivers