The first 31 picks of the 2019 NFL draft came and went and saw the New England Patriots, holding the 32nd selection, do nothing. When they finally were on the clock, the expectation was a trade-down but it never happened: instead of moving out, the Patriots decided to invest in Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry — the highest wideout picked by the team since Terry Glenn was picked seventh overall in 1996.
With Harry, the Patriots have found an X-receiver able to outmuscle defensive backs and win jump balls — a similar element to what now-retired tight end Rob Gronkowski brought to the table. And while the tight end position still needs to be addressed, adding the 21-year-old adds young, cheap talent to Tom Brady’s receiving arsenal. All in all, New England’s wide receiver group now looks as follows one day into the draft:
Julian Edelman returns as the undisputed number one wideout on New England’s roster, while Matthew Slater is safe due to his role as a core special teamer and captain. Harry now joins the duo in the roster lock category given his status as a first-round draft pick — and a player likely to see plenty of chances during his first summer in the NFL to potentially earn a starting-level role once the regular season starts.
While Phillip Dorsett was re-signed to a one-year contract in free agency, Demaryius Thomas, Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris were all brought in through the open market. Dorsett has the best chances of making the club out of the four given his experience in the Patriots’ system. The rest of the veteran depth options, meanwhile, will likely fight for one spot on the roster — at least as it is constructed at the moment.
While Braxton Berrios spent all of his 2018 rookie season on injured reserve, Damoun Patterson was a practice squad player last year — earning numerous practice player of the week recognitions along the way. Neither of the two youngsters should be expected to have too big of an impact this year, however, with Berrios probably the most realistic option to contribute due to his versatility in the kicking game.
When available, Josh Gordon is serious threat as a boundary receiver. The problem is that he is still indefinitely suspended and, given his history in the NFL, cannot be counted on to be available for a full season. Obviously, however, Gordon’s health is important above all else at this point — but if he were able to come back, he would further boost New England’s wide receiver group as a top option alongside Edelman and Harry.