Has the power been zapped in New England? The trio of Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, and Aaron Hernandez represented 2,748 yards of production last season, which accounted for over half of Tom Brady’s passing yards.
[dropcap][/dropcap]Danny Amendola, pictured stretched out to make a catch, was brought in to help fill the void left by Welkers absence. The chemistry between Brady and Amendola has been reported to be good, and they have had a good training camp thus far. Amendola is considered to be more of a slot type receiver but can be a threat on the outside. Analyst say that his route running is excellent and in that aspect has been compared to Greg Jennings and Reggie Wayne.
Returning veteran Julian Edelman, yes I said veteran, has recently been cleared to play after coming off of the PUP list, recovering from a foot injury. Edelman only had 21 catches last season but 3 were for Touchdowns. Edelman’s strength is in his knowledge of the Patriots Offensive Playbook and System.
Both Amendola and Edelman have been injury prone in the past.
Because of the lack of veteran talent in the Wide Receiver positions, rookies Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson are expected to be relied upon to step in and make immediate contributions. So who are these two youngsters?
Dobson because of his size and skill set is expected to see the most playing time of these two rookies. The 6’ 3” 210lb. Dobson recorded a 4.42 in the 40 at his Pro Day. In High school he racked up 32 TD receptions and 10 defensive interceptions, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns. While playing for Marshall University he had 165 receptions and 24 TD’s[dropcap][/dropcap]
Strengths: His height, he has the body of a prototypical outside vertical NFL Wide receiver. Dobson has strong hands and is able to make catches while being draped by a defender. It can be very difficult for smaller defenders to bring him down. Dobson has been known to make very difficult acrobatic type catches. According to John Pollard of Stats.com, Dobson had the best hands in college football last season, based on the fact that he had ZERO drops, yes that is a Goose Egg.
Weaknesses: Dobson didn’t face any top defenders in his college career so is still considered to be somewhat unproven. He is not a burner and will probably have trouble creating consistent separation between himself and the defenders. His blocking skills have been inconsistent, and he has been hesitant to engage in contact at times.
Because of his size and skill set, Fourth Round Draft Pick Josh Boyce is not expected to be relied on as heavily as fellow rookie Aaron Dobson. Boyce is considered to be more of a typical slot receiver with skills that overlap those of Amendola, and Edelman. The 5” 11” Boyce is built on a stocky frame weighing in at 206 lbs., he ran a 4.38 40 at the Combine.
Boyce was drafted out of Texas Christian University where he racked up 161 catches and 21 TD’s. He is TCU’s All Time leader in touchdown receptions. Boyce has the distinction of playing High School ball with RG III, and the Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton while at TCU.[dropcap][/dropcap]
Strengths: His quickness is his greatest asset. He is reported to have an excellent first three steps and is able to shake defenders to create separation. Boyce is known to track the ball well over both shoulders and has good hands. He can be tough to bring down after the catch. Boyce is an aggressive Run Blocker and doesn’t shy away from contact.
Weaknesses: Average Height and build. Boyce has struggled at times bringing in catches that require extending his arms and body. Sometimes falls off of blocks too soon, allowing defenders to make plays.
There are other players that may step up this season and prove to be effective, at the time these four players are at the top of the Wide Receiver depth Chart.
So has the power been zapped in New England, I don’t know. Personally If this was my team I would be a little concerned about relying on a rookie to be the biggest outside threat. We all know that as long as Brady is throwing the darts he is bound to hit the Bulls Eye often. I do expect some passing yardage drop off, but I don’t know how much.