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2016 NFL Preview: Why Patriots WR Chris Hogan will be the breakout star of the year

SB Nation is previewing the upcoming season and named the Patriots new wide receiver as a breakout candidate.

SB Nation has produced a guide for the 2016 NFL season that everyone should check out. There are some very cool features on teams from around the league and former NFL player Stephen White has projected a breakout candidate for every team in the league.

White thinks that New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan will emerge as a dominant force in 2016.

Hogan was a restricted free agent out of Buffalo and the Patriots made an offer that the cap-strapped Bills couldn’t match. White wants you to know that Hogan is, yes, a white receiver and that he will naturally be compared to the likes of Wes Welker and Julian Edelman.

"Let me stop you right there in your stereotyping tracks," White writes. "Yes, Hogan is a white receiver like Edelman and Welker, but that's about where most of the similarities end. He's actually 6'1, 220 pounds, so he's much taller and bigger than those other guys. He's also much more of a true outside receiver who is probably going to run more go routes than crossing routes this season."

Hogan is also much more of an athlete than either Edelman or Welker. While Edelman is quicker than Hogan, we have to appreciate that Hogan weighs roughly 25 pounds heavier than Jules, and their speeds are not that different.

Player Wes Welker Julian Edelman Chris Hogan
Draft year 2004 2009 2011
Height 5'8 6/8 5'10 3/8 6'1 1/8
Weight 195 195 221
40 Yard 4.65 4.52 4.50
10 Yard N/A 1.52 1.57
Bench N/A 14 28
Vertical 30" 36.5" 36.5"
Broad 113" 123" 126"
Shuttle 4.01 3.92 4.15
3 Cone 7.09 6.62 6.75

But these numbers also serve as support for why Hogan will be different from either Welker or Edelman. Hogan is two or three inches taller. He has a faster 40 yard dash, despite his extra 25 pounds of weight. He’s incredibly strong. His jumps are on par with Edelman, so he’ll be explosive out of his breaks and out of the snap.

His three cone implies that he’ll be able to generate separation, but his slower shuttle time points to questions of how effective he can accomplish it in the shallow middle of the field. The Patriots sometimes ask their slot receivers to run whip routes across the middle that require them to stop on a dime and go the exact opposite direction after freezing the linebacker; that’s not where Hogan will succeed.

"In New England...he will likely fill the role of what the Patriots wanted Brandon LaFell to be when they signed him a couple years back," White writes about Hogan. "When he is not running go routes, you will probably find Hogan blocking the piss out of a DB in the running game. The dude really gets after it, and he has the size to actually make a difference as a blocker at the position."

White also believes that the combination of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett will force defenses to bunch their defenders in the middle of the field, leaving Hogan with delicious one-on-one opportunities on the outside.

Hogan has emerged as the Patriots top and most reliable receiver this preseason as Julian Edelman has been limited and Danny Amendola hasn’t practiced. He has the opportunity to not just fill in for LaFell’s role that led to 74 receptions for 953 yards and 7 touchdowns, but completely blow those numbers out of the water.