While the New England Patriots have some holes on their roster heading into the draft, one position appears to be well set at the moment: wide receiver. Despite letting Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola go this offseason, the Patriots still have 10 wideouts under contract. This, in turn, will make for a spirited competition once OTAs, minicamp and training camp start – especially if another receiver is brought in through the draft.
Overall, the wide receiver position is a relatively thin one when compared to years past. However, there are still a few outstanding players and the Patriots brought one of them in for a top-30 visit today: According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Alabama's Calvin Ridley is in Foxboro today to work out for the team. The 23-year old is projected to go as early as round one next week – a round in which New England owns two selections.
Ridley is considered the best wide receiver in this draft class. Not only does he bring solid production to the table – he averaged 75 receptions, 927 yards and six touchdowns in his three years with the Crimson Tide –, Ridley also offers some elite athleticism and very good route running skills. In short: The 6'0, 190 lbs wideout has the skill set to grow into a legitimate top-tier receiver at the next level.
Will he get a chance to continue his development in New England? Given that the Patriots hold four picks in the first two rounds of this year's draft it certainly is possible the team opts to invest one of them in Ridley, a player that would add long-term stability to a wide receiver position that is Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kenny Britt all entering the final years of their respective contracts.
Ultimately, it would still be a surprise to see New England invest one of its early selections in a wide receiver. After all, the team already has plenty of depth and upside at the position and also has holes elsewhere – most prominently at linebacker and developmental quarterback, possibly also at offensive tackle – to fill. Then again, it is the Patriots we are talking about here: Everything is possible.