A week into the new NFL season and free agency and Patriot fans — like always this time of year — continue to panic regarding some key holes to fill in the roster. From Wide Receiver, to Defensive End to Special Teams, the Patriots still have a lot of question marks when it comes to their roster just a few weeks before the NFL Draft.
Let's start with the position everyone seems to be talking about the most; Wide Receiver. If you’ve been following along on social media, many people in Pats Nation believe they are ‘doomed’ at Wide Receiver (like we haven't heard this before). After reportedly missing out on Adam Humphries and reports (at one point) of Golden Tate potentially coming, everyone is looking for an answer.
However, the Patriots have lost Chris Hogan (at least at the moment), Dwayne Allen and Cordarrelle Patterson as far as pass catchers go and replaced them with Maurice Harris and Bruce Ellington. As my good friend, Pat Lane, wrote in his post earlier today, the Patriots lost 59 receptions in Hogan and Patterson and replace them with Harris and Ellington, who also combined for 59 catches last season.
However, depth at that position is definitely limited with Berrios unknown to make the team and Matthew Slater primarily a special teamer, so look for the Patriots to improve and get younger through the draft and/or potentially make a splash on draft weekend for a receiver since the Patriots have 6 picks inside the top 101.
Next up, is kicker. Although it’s believed that Stephen Gostkowski will be back, the Patriots as of now have just over $5 million in cap space and still have to sign key Free Agents and their draft picks so it will be interesting to see what the team does to shred some cap space in the coming weeks. Many people may have their complaints about Gostkowski, but let’s be real here, he is probably the best and most reliable option out there.
With Trey Flowers, Malcom Brown and possibly Danny Shelton gone, the Patriots recently signed Mike Pennel, however, New England will need to bolster its defensive line as far as depth goes. Look for the Patriots to load up on the line during the draft and don’t be surprised if that’s their first option at pick #32.
Bill Belichick was spotted at Alabama’s pro day likely looking at some of Nick Saban’s top prospects like tight end Irv Smith Jr. With Rob Gronkowski, who we seem to think will be back, in the tail end of his career, Belichick will have to look for some depth and youth at the tight end position.
Lastly, Isaiah Wynn, who barely played in a real NFL after injuring his Achilles during last year’s preseason, will seemingly have a big role this year in protecting Tom Brady’s 42-year-old blindside. I seem to believe Belichick may pull a “Trent-Brown-like-deal” on draft day and get a younger tackle towards the end of his rookie contract. This can provide some experience and a low cap hit that can serve as some depth on the line, similar to what they had in LaAdrian Waddle.