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Senior Bowl Prospects: Wide Receivers

Prospects in the Senior Bowl that could fit the Patriots.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In the offseason, the Patriots have a clear need to find a WR in the draft as well as Free Agency. The Patriots shouldn't shell out a lot of money in either acquisition because there is only a finite amount of cap space and there are other needs that need to be addressed. When it comes to picking WRs, the Patriots should try to go for either converted option QBs like Julian Edelman or Troy Brown who are dynamic at returning kicks and punts or pick pro-style receivers. That likely knocks everyone but Braxton Miller, Aaron Burbridge, and Malcolm Mitchell off the board. There is an outside chance the Patriots pick up Leonte Carroo given the Rutgers and Greg Schiano connection since Carroo was a Schiano recruit.

Braxton Miller: Even though Miller is a novice at WR, I believe of all the Senior Bowl prospects he presents the best value to the team. Miller has the speed and quickness to be successful in this offense and can be tough to tackle in the open field. I have to imagine that Bill Belichick will get a lot of firsthand information on him from Urban Meyer, the Ohio State head coach and a long-time friend of Belichick. If Miller proves to be successful, perhaps the answer for the Patriots offense is to draft former QBs. Early on, Braxton Miller can help on Special Teams as a gunner and/or return man. Miller is very similar to Edelman in the open field and is a dynamic threat with the ball in his hand. Miller probably makes the most sense of the group, but he's rising up the boards and could be out of the Patriots range come draft day.

Aaron Burbridge: Burbridge is a guy who can likely thrive in any offensive philosophy, but teams are going to be wary of his 8" hands. Burbridge may be the 2nd best value for the Patriots behind Miller with his ability to make plays downfield. Burbridge is still more likely to get drafted higher than his QB. It should be interesting to see if he develops into an Antonio Brown type receiver who can stretch the field both horizontally and vertically. He comes from a Pro style offense at Michigan State, which means his transition to the NFL should be easier for the Patriots than most prospects. I'm not sure where he would crack the field in Year 1 since I doubt his ability to contribute on Special Teams.

Malcolm Mitchell: Mitchell may be the most underrated WR prospect in the entire Senior class. Mitchell isn't necessarily big at 5'11" 215, but he comes from a pro style offense and is very reliable. Mitchell is a solid route runner and has strong hands. The question of whether he's a Day 2 or Day 3 pick will come down to how fast he runs at the combine. While the Patriots could likely use a taller receiver to complement him, Mitchell should be able to contribute in this offense very early due to his ability to play both inside and outside. Mitchell's career has been marred with injuries at Georgia, which could give the Patriots an opportunity to pick up a steal in the middle rounds. Mitchell was a teammate of Patriots center David Andrews at Georgia for 3 years as well.