The New England Patriots currently have the maximum of 90 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on September 1 and ultimately make the team. Over the next weeks, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Today, the series continues with one of the Patriots’ veteran wideouts.
Name: Chris Hogan
Position: Wide receiver
Jersey number: 15
Opening day age: 29
Size: 6’1, 210 lbs.
2017 review: Coming off a highly successful 2016 campaign, Hogan looked poised to make the famous second-year jump last year. As one of the Patriots’ top three wideouts alongside Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola, the veteran started the season very well: Through the first eight games of the year, Hogan played 90.5% of New England‘s offensive snaps and registered 33 catches for 438 yards and five touchdowns.
On a per-game average, his numbers were noticeably improved when compared to 2016: His average receptions jumped from 2.5 to 4.1 per contest, while his yards went from 45.3 to 55.8. And even though his yards per catch were down – from 17.9 to 13.3 – Hogan proved to be an important and productive player in a Patriots offense that looked slightly different than the one he played in just one year earlier.
With the arrival of Cooks and with Julian Edelman on injured reserve, the team asked Hogan to work the intermediate areas of the field more often than he did in 2016. The change of usage proved to be a successful one, particularly when going against zone coverage. Showing very good chemistry with Tom Brady, the former Buffalo Bill therefore continued being a reliable target in the passing game.
However, Hogan’s success did not prove to be sustainable: In week eight against the Los Angeles Chargers, Hogan suffered a shoulder injury that would keep him out of seven of the Patriots’ next eight games. Overall, he finished the regular season with 34 catches for 439 yards and five scores as he was pretty much shut down over its second half.
Hogan did return for the playoffs, however, and again proved to be a productive player. Playing 88.7% of the Patriots’ offensive snaps (196 of 221), he registered 9 catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns – most of his production coming in the Super Bowl. It was an encouraging albeit unsuccessful end to Hogan’s second year in New England.
2018 preview: If the Super Bowl and the Patriots’ few open practices this offseason are an indication, Hogan is past the shoulder injury that cost him seven games last year and at full strength heading into the summer. This is good news for a New England offense that lost both of its two most productive wide receivers from last year in the aforementioned Cooks and Amendola, and might start the season without potentially suspended Julian Edelman.
Personnel questions at the wideout position are not the only reason why Hogan can be considered an almost certain lock to make New England’s roster in 2018. His overall promising last two campaigns, his chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady, and a relatively modest salary cap hit of $3.28 million will highly likely earn him a spot on the team come September.
In 2018, Hogan is projected to again serve as the team’s primary outside threat able to challenge the intermediate and deep portions of the field. Offering a combination of speed, size and proven production the team otherwise lacks on the perimeter, the 29-year old will therefore continue seeing regular playing time and a fair amount of targets as one of the Patriots’ top wide receiver options.