Could the Patriots take a WR in the first round for the first time in 17 years? With Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Donte Stallworth, and Deion Branch all on the free agent market, they may have to. Either that or they will HAVE to sign a couple free agents for Tom Brady to throw to.
While the Patriots obviously posses two extremely talented TE, as it stands at this moment, they may have THE weakest receiving corps in the NFL. As a matter of fact, currently Brandon Lloyd is the only WR that caught a pass for the Patriots that will be returning for certain next year.
What other team that has an elite QB has a receiving corps that is so weak? None come to mind. With a defense that gives up a lot of yards on a consistent basis, the Patriots are obviously built around Tom Brady and the offense. Which means if they want to content for another Super Bowl, they have a lot of work to do in order to strengthen their WR depth.
Tavon Austin from West Virginia and DeAndre Hopkins from Clemson are two options that could be available for the Patriots in the 1st round if the Patriots decide to go that way. Austin though, is a smaller WR that would play more in the slot and would need the ball in the open field. Which I think would be a mistake for the Pats to draft such a small WR in the first round when the middle of the field will already be crowded with Hernandez, Gronkowksi, and RB’s out of the backfield. I do like Hopkins though, because he creates that deep threat that the Patriots have been lacking for the last 3 or 4 years and scouts rave about his athleticism.
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Based on the Patriots past though, it would be very surprising to see the Pats go with a WR in the 1st round. Especially when you consider that only 1 of their last six 1st round picks have been on the offensive side of the ball (OT Nate Solder). Add in the fact that the Pats defense was torched numerous times last year leads me to believe the Pats will once again go defensive in the 1st round.
Which means if you’re a free agent WR, expect a call from the New England Patriots.
Follow Cole Stevenson on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson