We have entered the quietest parts of the NFL offseason. Free agency and the draft are behind us, while minicamp and training camp won't start until next week and late July, respectively.
However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop. After all, by late August, each team has to start making its roster cuts. Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we'll take a look at wide receiver Chris Hogan.
Name: Chris Hogan
Position: Wide receiver
Jersey number: 15
Size: 6'1, 220 lbs.
2015 review: In 2015, his fourth year with the Buffalo Bills, Chris Hogan gained the most yards from scrimmage of his professional career. The vast majority of his 454 yards – 450 – came on his 36 pass receptions. Of those receptions, two went for touchdowns.
His best game of the season came in week 11 against the team that would later sign him to a 3-year, $12.0 million contract as a restricted free agent: the New England Patriots. That day, he caught a season-high six passes for 95 yards, leading his team in both categories.
And while Hogan was inconsistent at times and failed to record a catch in three of his team's 16 games, he was still Buffalo's fourth most productive pass catcher in 2015, despite suffering a wrist injury late in the year. Overall, he played 56.9% of the Bills' offensive snaps, while being used as a gunner on special teams as well – a role he could also play in New England.
2016 preview: Given the structure of his contract and the fact that he has the highest 2016 cap hit of New England's current wide receiver depth chart, Hogan is a lock to make the Patriots' roster. What is less clear is the role he will play within New England's offense.
While the Bills used the 27-year old in a variety of roles due to his diverse and well-rounded skill-set, they mostly lined him up in the slot. New England has solid depth at that position, with Danny Amendola playing the majority of his snaps from the slot and Julian Edelman being used there as well, depending on the personnel package.
Therefore, it would not be a surprise to see Hogan take over Brandon LaFell's old role as the "X"-receiver. LaFell, like Hogan, played a majority of his pre-Patriots snaps from the slot. In Foxboro, he was then moved to the outside of the formation because of his physical attributes and his solid route running. Hogan could make the same transition from slot receiver to outside target, as he possesses similar skills.
One thing seems like a safe bet, though: Hogan will not just line up from one position but instead move around the formation to create favorable match-ups across the board.
The Patriots have 15 weeks to find out which role fits #15 best, while Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo have 15 weeks to build chemistry with the most expensive of New England's offseason receiver additions. Being able to do that could potentially add another element to the team's offensive attack – one that was not consistent enough in 2015.