2009 Draft Preview: Wide Receiver

Overview

After losing Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney in back to back years to free agency, the Patriots worked to retool their aging receiving corps this offseason with the additions of Joey Galloway.  However, Lewis is 29 and Galloway 37, so the Patriots certainly didn’t get any younger.  However, with Randy Moss on the outside and Wes Welker in the slot, this group is most certainly one of the best in the NFL.  And after the failed Chad Jackson experiment, it may be time for the Patriots to try and get younger at the position somewhere in the middle rounds.

Current Grade: A-

Need: Moderate

Current Roster

Randy Moss: May be 32, but is still one of the most dominant receivers currently in the NFL.  Possesses top-end speed, great hands, a surreal leaping ability, and long arms.  Should have a huge year in 2009.

Wes Welker: Still just 27, and is the best slot receiver in the NFL.  Precision route running, quickness, elusiveness, and solid hands are his dominant traits.  Should be a force for the next 5-8 years for the Patriots.

Joey Galloway: While age certainly isn’t on his side, Galloway is still one of the fastest in the game and should make a nice deep target for Tom Brady.

Greg Lewis: Can play slot or outside.  Is fast, has decent hands, and can make the clutch catch.  Plus, he has always killed the Pats.  Should be the #4 option for Tom Brady.

Sam Aiken: Last year, Aiken was brought in primarily for his special teams, but he proved he could catch the ball a little too, making a couple of nice plays off Matt Cassel throws last season.

Matthew Slater: Has a big impact on special teams as a returner and in coverage.  Can also play safety.  His best asset is his top-end speed.

Ray Ventrone: Quietly has become a leader on special teams coverage.  Showed good quickness and improving hands making the transition from safety last preseason.

Draft Prospects:* (Probability of Patriots drafting in italics, 1-10, ten being the highest)

Gregs Sleeper: Johnny Knox

Greg's Sleeper: Johnny Knox

Aaron Kelly, Clemson: Amazing height and great leaping ability.  Elusive after the catch.  Has soft hands and extends well on his catches.  However, although he has great straight line speed, is often considered a long strider. Probability: 4.5 | Grade: 7.0

Brandon Tate, North Carolina: Tore his ACL and MCL his senior year.  But has good size and quickness (accelerates quickly) with soft hands as well.  Probability: 5.5 | Grade: 7.0

Brooks Foster, North Carolina: Also has a bad knee, but is a strong player, with decent hands, good agility, and decent straight line speed.  Has unique athleticism. Probability: 5.0 | Grade: 6.5

Johnny Knox, Abilene Christian: Ridiculous speed, ran a 4.29 at the combine.  Has adequate height, but is a great route runner.  Shows excellent technique bringing in catches.  However, lacks strength.  Probability: 6.5 | Grade: 7.5

Mohamed Massaquoi, Georgia: Good height and amazing strength for the position, he will break tackles after the catch.  Decent speed, but has good leaping ability and great body control.  Has been known to drop passes.  Probability: 6.0 | Grade: 7.0

Derrick Williams, Penn State: A little similar to Pat White with his versatility.  Has great athletic ability, can play the slot or outside (I think he projects better as a slot guy).  However, still needs to fine tune his skills as a pass catcher. Probability: 4.0 | Grade: 6.5

Tommy Breaux, Towson: The 6-7, 200 pound receiver received interest from the Patriots according to NFLDS.  He also played basketball at Towson, has good speed (4.51) and vertical (35 1/2).  Very raw, but very intriguing nonetheless.  Probability: 3.5 | Grade: 4.0

Travis Shelton, Temple: At 5-9, 185 pounds, receiving is not Shelton’s real game.  He is a kick returner pure and simple, and reportedly runs in the 4.2’s.  Probability: 2.5 | Grade: 3.0 (as WR)

Percy Harvin, Florida: Versatile, athletic, multi-talented player who could be used as a kick returner, receiver, and even a running back.  Serious character concerns.  Probability: 4.5 | Grade: 8.0

Juaquin Iglesias, Oklahoma: Good size, but great agility and route running.  Goes and gets the ball.  Has good vision after the catch.  But may lack straight line speed and acceleration.  Probability: 4.0 | Grade: 7.0

Tiquan Underwood, Rutgers: Great speed and height with long arms.  Good hands.  Makes good moves after the catch but lacks strength and can be taken out by bump n’ run cornerbacks.  Probability: 4.5 | Grade: 5.5

*= These “draft prospects” are players that the Patriots are actually looking at picking up or have shown a legitimate interest in.

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