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Patriots Position Analysis: Wide Receivers

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
February 10, 2023 at 6:00 am ET

Patriots Position Analysis:  Wide Receivers(PHOTO: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 5 minutes

In this installment, I will review the Wide Receivers.  I start with the wideouts that are Free Agents.

Free Agents

Jakobi Meyers is the #1 ranked Wide Receiver in all of Free Agency, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).  He is the #7 overall Free Agent available.  They are projecting Meyers will get a 4-year contract averaging $16M a year.  It’s time for the Patriots to stand up and pay one of their own players they have drafted and developed.  Here is what PFF said about Meyers “is predominantly a slot receiver but is certainly not just that, logging a little more than one-third of his snaps out wide. What he lacks in physical tools – his 4.63-second 40-yard dash ranks in the 14th percentile among wide receivers in PFF’s database – he more than makes up for with sharp route running and great hands. Over the past three seasons, his 3.1% drop rate ranks ninth among qualifying wide receivers, and at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he can use his frame to make contested catches. His 63.2% contested catch rate is a top-five mark among all wide receivers over the same span.”   Meyers led the Patriots with 57 catches on 96 targets for 804 yards, 12.0 yards per catch, and 6 TDs.  He is more valuable to the Patriots than any other team.  Give mac Jones his familiar target back.  Meyers missed three games due to injury preventing him from reaching the 1,000-yard plateau.

Nelson Agholor was a bust as a Free Agent signing two years ago.  This season he counted $14M against the cap.  He had a good season in LA with the Raiders that propelled him to this large contract.  The Patriots also had bad memories of Agholor torching them in Super Bowl 52 when he was with the Eagles.  He never lived up to that contract.  Agholor is an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) and as far as I am concerned, good riddance.  He was never really a wideout, but a slot receiver. Agholor dropped too many passes for my liking.

Matthew Slater is currently a Free Agent and is mulling retirement.  It appears from recent articles that Slater may have an open invitation to join the Patriots coaching staff.  Slater was the spiritual leader of the team and may take on that kind of role amongst other things.  Many would like him to take over for Special Teams coach Cam Achord.


Players Under Contract

Davante Parker played well in his final game of the season against Buffalo with 6 catches in 7 targets.  That was the player I was hoping to see.  For the season he had 31 catches on 47 targets, 539 yards, 17.4 YPC, and 3 TDs.  He missed 4 games due to injury.   Parker is known for his ability to catch 50/50 balls.  The problem is that everything thrown to him is a 50/50 ball.  For the 3rd consecutive season, Parker was the worst player in the league at getting separation from a DB.  He was 4th worse 4 years ago.  He is another slot receiver and we just don’t need him.  If we re-sign Meyers we already have a big, slow wide receiver.  I would cut bait with Parker and sign a better, faster, quicker WR in Free Agency.

Kendrick Bourne His 35 catches were third amongst WRs.  Bourne was targeted 48 times for 434 yards and a 12.4 YPC, and 1 TD.  He played in6 games, tops among the WR group.  Bourne was very vocal about the dysfunctional offense and that may have led him to his banishment to Bill Belichick’s doghouse.  With a 72.9% reception/target rate Bourne led the WRs.   Bourne is another player that just might be a slot receiver.  They have no true X receiver.  Their Y (slot) receivers are very slow for the position.  These players have traditionally been smaller, faster, and quicker.  Edelman, Welker, Amendola, and before that Troy Brown were these types of players.  All had a 3-cone drill time under 7.  I would love to see Bourne have a bigger role under a Bill O’Brien offense.

Tyquan Thornton The 2nd round selection in the 2022 draft was a disappointment to me.  There were other players in the draft I liked better such as Skyy Moore of the Chiefs, who will be playing a big role in the Super Bowl on Sunday.   Thornton is rail thin at 6’2” and 183 lbs.  On his 1st play in the regular season game, he got popped and broke his collarbone.  He missed 4 games with the injury.  His stat line for the year was 22 receptions on 45 targets for 247 yards, 11.2 YPC, and 2 TDs.  His catch rate was an unreliable 48.8%.   He may be able to fly in a straight line (4.28 speed) but he has a limited route tree and really couldn’t get away from press coverage.  Thornton only took the top off the defense once during the season.  I was very disappointed in his performance and don’t know if he can improve enough to be a serviceable receiver in the NFL.

Kristian Wilkerson At the end of 2021 he had a very good game with 2 TDs.  Unfortunately, he got hurt at the end of training camp and was put on IR.  He is a Restricted Free Agent that shouldn’t be too hard to sign.   I liked what I saw in Wilkerson and would like to see him get some meaningful reps to determine if he can contribute to the team.   He stands 6’1” and weighs 200 lbs.  He ran a 4.5 40 but had a 6.68 3-cone drill.  That would be the quickest 3-cone drill of any Patriot.  The 3-cone drill is important in getting separation, which you know is a big problem for Patriots wide receivers.

Ty Montgomery Is under contract after spending most of the year on IR.  During Pre-season camp it appeared that Montgomery was going to play a major role with the team.  That’s vanished.  He will probably be brought to camp but not sure what the competition will be like.  Will he be a receiver or a running back?

Tre Nixon has spent two years on the Practice Squad.  He was re-signed to a futures contract.  Ernie Adams was given the opportunity to make the last selection in the 2021 draft as a parting gift upon his retirement.  He chose Tre Nixon.  Nixon has the size at 6’ 190 lbs running a 4.44 and 6.81 3-cone.  It is a make-or-break for Nixon.

Lynn Bowden The former Kentucky Wildcat played both QB and WR at Kentucky.  He led them to a Bowl game his senior season as a running QB.  After the 1st 4 games, Bowden switched to QB.  He amassed 1,285 yards rushing, 330 yards passing, and 11 TDs.  In his sophomore season at WR, he led Kentucky with 67 receptions for 745 yards receiving and 5 TDs.  I would like to see what he could do.  Bill O’Brien could use him as a swiss army knife.  He is also excellent on kickoff returns.


Unrestricted Free Agents the Patriots might be interested in.

DJ Chark, is a 6’4”, 205 lbs, wideout with 4.34 speed.  He missed 7 games for Detroit this year. His stat line was 30 receptions on 52 targets for 502 Yards and a 16.7 YPC, and 3 TDs.  In 2019 he had a big year for the Jacksonville Jaguars with over 1.000 yards receiving.     This would give them a true X receiver.  Chark is just 26 years old.

Deonte Harty (formerly Deonte Harris) Stands at just 5’6” 170lbs, runs 4.48 40 6.82 3-cone drill.  As a rookie, he was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team as a Punt Returner.  Yes, we have Marcus Jones but I see Jones having a much more prominent role on offense and defense for the Patriots next year.  Harris played his college ball at Assumption University in Worcester.  I saw him play many times and can tell you that he was magic with the ball in his hands.  A potential TD every time he touched the ball.  Yes, he is diminutive but he would be the perfect slot receiver.   Harty was arrested on a DWI charge in 2021 and received one-year probation.  The NFL suspended him for 3 games.  He played in only 9 games.  He missed 12 games in on IR.  So 2022 was a lost season.  In 2021 he had 36 receptions for 570 yards, 15.8 YPC, and 3 TDs.  In 2022 he played in only 3 games and missed the remainder of the season with a significant turf toe injury.  He holds most of the Division II Return records.  His 14 return TDs (combined) is the all-time leader.  His 8 returns for TD in one season is a single-season record.

Paris Campbell is Another small quick receiver.   The former Ohio St  2nd round pick stands 6’ 205 runs a 4.38 40.  In 2022 he had 63 receptions for 623 yards and 3 TDs.  I don’t think the Colts can afford to lose him.



There are several possibilities in the draft.  I would expect the team to select at least one WR.  That all depends upon how they fair in Free Agency.  As of right now, I think they have higher priorities at other positions and I don’t expect a WR taken until the 3rd day.

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About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.

Tags: 2023 Patriots Offseason Patriots Receivers

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