Continuing our breakdown of the Patriots roster in 2013, today we will take a look at the Wide Receiver position.
Main WR's currently on the roster:
Lets start with Amendola and work our way down.
Danny Amendola will face great expectations in 2013. He is replacing Patriots slot man Wes Welker who put up monster numbers in his tenure with the Patriots. Amendola has been called a poor man's Wes Welker as he has a very similar skill set on the field. He is fast, big for a slot receiver, has exceptional hands, and isn't afraid to go over the middle to catch the football. He could have a monster season the likes of which we have yet to see from him as he will have Tom Brady. As good as he looks from a skill perspective, there is a clear concern regading his durability. Amendola has a legitimate problem staying on the field as he has only played 12 games the last two season for the Rams. If the Patriots and Amendola can crack the code and figure out how to keep him healthy, and he can pick up the system, the signing of Amendola may prove to pay dividends in 2013 and beyond.
Aaron Dobson is perhaps the receiver with the best size and speed combination on the roster. Aaron Dobson has the skills to be an elite playmaker for the Patriots. He is 6'3'' tall and ran a 4.37 forty time at the combine. He is a decent route runner, has always been known for his soft hands, and has the ability to go up and make highlight reel catches. He has drawn comparisons to Randy Moss because of his size and speed. Fortunately for the Patriots, he has not been compared to Moss in the negative sense. Dobson has been lauded by his coaches and teammates at Marshall as a guy with a great work ethic and positive attitude. He should project as a starting outside receiver, like Moss was in the Patiots system, due to a lack of experience catching balls over the middle at Marshall.
Michael Jenkins is another interesting option in the receiving game for the Patriots. A big receiver at 6'4'' 215 lbs, he is definitely a guy that can go up and catch the football. With a 4.6 40 time at the combine the year he was drafted, he has decent but not amazing speed. He will most likely be utilized as a possession receiver in the Patriots system when they need a few important yards, similar to how they used Jabar Gaffney a few years ago. They are both similar players in the sense that they are both big receivers who have great hands and decent speed. As a matter of fact, Gaffney ran a 4.56 forty at the combine, very close to Dobson's 4.60. Jenkins is slightly taller though, as he is 6'4'' and Gaffney is 6'2''. Expect Jenkins to play on the outside opposite of Dobson in 2013.
Julian Edelman will most likely be in a very similar role to what he did a year ago. He will probably compete with Leon Washington in training camp for kick return or punt return work. In addition, he will most likely assume other special teams duties. As far as the receiving game is concerned, Edelman will probably be considered a backup slot man in 2013. At first, you may think that isn't an important thing to be a backup slot man and special teams guy. However, Danny Amendola could get hurt at any time with his high profile injury history. Edelman would most likely assume the role of the starting slot guy if this were to happen. Special teams is also important and valued by alot of Head Coaches, especially Belichick. Edelman has always been known as a versatile guy in the league which adds to his value within the Patriots' organization.
Donald Jones is a player to keep an eye on as well. Although he hasn't been all that productive in the few years he has been in Buffalo, he has had both a revolving door of coaches and quarterbacks run through the organization. With Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, Jones may finally deliver the potential that he has as a fast, dynamic, playmaking receiver. Unfortunately for Jones, he will have to compete for an outside receiver job with Michael Jenkins and Aaron Dobson. He runs a 4.46 40 which is well above average and he has decent but not great hands. If he can't beat out Dobson or Jenkins for a starting spot, one of them will probably have to suffer an injury for Jones to see the field consistently in 2013.
Boyce will probably not contribute this year unless on special teams. However, he is versatile. At TCU, he played on the inside and the outside receiver spots, which could be his ticket to keeping a spot on the roster. He will probably only play the slot in the NFL. He is too small at 5'11'' to play on the outside full time. This will make it hard for him to be anything more than a third string slot man in 2013.
Matthew Slater will play a very similar role to Boyce this year and will probably not even catch a pass at all in 2013. His value lies in his football intelligence and superb Special Teams ability. He is not much of a pass catcher and should not be counted on to step up in the absence of Lloyd, Welker, Hernandez or Woodhead.
Kamar Aiken is a guy that has been lurking in the shadows on the Patriots practice squad since last November. he has potential, but for now look for him to only play in the preseason and be placed on the practice squad once again in 2013. He could even be released by the end of training camp if the Pats want to go in a different direction.
Lavelle Hawkins will probably be in the same boat as Aiken, although I do not believe he will be placed on the practice squad in 2013. He will probably either be a depth option at WR or he could be released before the team's final 53 man roster is revealed.