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New England Patriots 2019 roster breakdown: #14 WR Braxton Berrios

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Berrios is coming off a rookie year spent on injured reserve.

NFL: New England Patriots-Minicamp Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots, who concluded their mandatory minicamp yesterday, currently have 89 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on August 31 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the summer, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots defend their Super Bowl title.

Today, the series continues with one of New England’s young wide receivers.

Name: Braxton Berrios

Position: Wide receiver

Jersey number: 14

Opening day age: 23

Experience: 1

Size: 5’9, 190 lbs.

2018 review: Braxton Berrios’ NFL career began when the Patriots selected him 210th overall in last year’s draft. Due to his status as a sixth-round selection, however, the Miami product was far from a lock to make the team; he had to carve out a role instead. Unfortunately for Berrios, he was unable to properly showcase his talents during his first training camp in New England — although through no fault of his own.

After all, Berrios suffered an undisclosed injury fairly early into camp — one that severely limited his time on the field. In preseason, for example, he appeared in just one game in which he played a mere eleven offensive snaps as well as five on special teams. All in all, he registered a single catch for just three yards, as well as a 13-yard kickoff return. He also fielded three punt returns: one was returned for no gain, two caught fairly.

Berrios’ fate therefore seemed predetermined even before roster cutdowns. When the day to reduce rosters down to 53 came, New England opted to place the rookie wideout on injured reserve — ending his first season as a pro before it even really began.

2019 preview: After missing virtually all of his rookie campaign, Berrios returned to the field for the Patriots’ offseason workouts and did look solid during the practices open to the media: he was one of the standouts on the first day of mandatory minicamp, and appeared to be comfortable both in his usual slot receiver role and as a punt returner. Of course, he needs to consistently perform well in order to earn a spot on the team.

New England, after all, has nine wide receivers competing for what is likely just three available spots on the position depth chart. For Berrios to win one of them, he needs to a) stay healthy — something he failed to do last year — and b) continue making plays on both offense and special teams. He laid a solid foundation in minicamp, and now needs repeat performances in training camp and during preseason.

What could help him do that is his experience: of the wideouts competing to make the team, only Phillip Dorsett has spent more time in the Patriots’ offense than Berrios. And if the second-year man can take advantage of this to take the famed jump between seasons one to two, seeing him carve out a role on the team as a rotational slot receiver and primary punt return option would not be all that big of a surprise.

That being said, Berrios is still a relative unknown at this point — despite entering year two in the system. We have not yet seen him this year with full pads on and in a live-tackling setting, for example. And if he fails to adjust to that when it becomes relevant, he will likely fall behind in the race for a roster spot. But even if that happened, the Patriots might still view the 23-year-old as a developmental option and practice squad candidate.

Seeing Berrios in New England next season — in which capacity has yet to be determined — therefore appears to be a fairly realistic scenario: unless he completely disappears off the radar in training camp, the team will likely value his upside in combination with a versatile skill set and moderate price tag. Will this be enough to warrant keeping him on the roster over the practice squad? The next three months will give us the answer.