Second in a nine-part series taking a quick look at each position, and how the Patriots may or may not address it during the 2012 NFL Draft:
Position: Wide Receiver
Current Personnel: Wes Welker (franchise tag), Deion Branch, Brandon Lloyd, Chad Ochocinco, Donte Stallworth, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater, Anthony Gonzalez, Tiquan Underwood, Britt Davis,
Need Level: Moderate
Lingering Questions: How will Wes Welker's contract situation work itself out? Will Chad Ochocinco finally catch on to the offense? Where do new additions Brandon Lloyd, Donte Stallworth, and Anthony Gonzalez fit into the group? Will the team seek to add a young, explosive threat to the offense via the draft?
State of the Position: The wide receiver position is a tricky one to project when it comes to the Patriots and the 2012 NFL Draft. The team currently has 10 wide receivers on the active roster, which means that in terms of numbers and depth, the team is probably fine. Yet at the same time, the Patriots could certainly look to add a young player to develop at the position. Wes Welker has yet to sign his franchise tag. When considering his contract situation and factoring in the fact that he's soon to be 31, perhaps the Patriots could seek to replace him long term. Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco, Donte Stallworth, and Anthony Gonzalez are all nice depth receivers, but none figure to be long term solutions at the position. And while the team finally picked up a legitimate deep threat in Brandon Lloyd, he isn't exactly a burner and will also be 31 in 2012.
Don't get me wrong - the Patriots are pretty well stacked at the receiver position for 2012. However, looking beyond next season, the Patriots could really use a young, playmaking wide receiver that the team could develop and groom for the future. Therefore, heading into the draft, I could see the Patriots going in one of two ways at the receiver position: They could end up using a high draft pick on a player like Kendall Wright or Mohamed Sanu. Or, they could wait until the fourth or fifth round, and pick up a developmental receiver with a lot of upside such as Miami's Tommy Streeter.