The 2019 NFL Draft kicks off April 25, and the New England Patriots are drowning in draft picks. Here are five receivers New England should target.
The Patriots acquired four compensatory picks this offseason, and now possess a total of 12 draft picks, including six in the first three rounds. New England will start the draft with the most picks in the league, but it is highly unlikely they make all 12 selections.
Bill Belichick has a propensity to trade early round picks for late-round selections or future draft picks. The middle rounds of this year’s draft are stacked with highly talented prospects, so moving back and acquiring even more mid-round picks could make sense.
It could also be the perfect season to trade some of these extra picks to move up in the first round. The Patriots have plenty of needs, but their priorities are on the defensive line and at wide receiver. With plenty of solid receiver prospects in this draft, using some of their picks to move up in the draft could really benefit the organization.
D.K. Metcalf should be the consensus top wide receiver after his impressive performance at this year’s combine. He will no doubt be taken well before pick 32 when New England will make their first scheduled selection. The Patriots would undoubtedly need to trade up in order to get him, but the odds of Belichick moving up in the first round for a wide receiver are incredibly low.
There are plenty of wideouts that will be available after the first round that could help propel New England toward their seventh championship. Here are five wide receivers that the Patriots should have on their draft board:
Riley Ridley, University of Georgia
6’1”, 200 lbs
Riley Ridley has the pedigree to succeed at the next level as his older brother, Calvin Ridley, was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons last season. Riley is an inch taller and is 10 pounds heavier than Calvin, who had an excellent first season and was in the mix for Rookie of the Year.
The Georgia Bulldogs have a run-first offense so the stats for Ridley were not eye-popping compared to the other wide receiver draftees, but he put enough on tape to prove he can hang in the NFL. After his breakout game against his brother’s Alabama squad in last season’s National Championship game, this was Ridley’s first season as Georgia’s top target. He ended the year with just 43 receptions for 559 yards, but had an impressive nine touchdowns. That’s a ridiculous 21 percent touchdown rate exhibiting his knack to take it to the house.
Ridley is a proficient route runner with the height and body frame to win versus NFL cornerbacks. He has strong hands that seem to pluck the ball out of the air and has the strength to fight through press and route contact.
His stock took a bit of a dip after a disappointing performance at the combine. Ridley ran a pedestrian 4.53 forty-yard dash and his vertical was a mere 30.5 inches. He will never be the fastest wideout on the field, but he has enough speed to win in one-on-one situations.
With the stock drop, he may fall off of some draft boards, so the poor showing at the combine might allow the Patriots to snag a highly skilled possession receiver later than expected.
Andy Isabella, University of Massachusetts
5’9”, 188 lbs
Andy Isabella has been labeled as an “undersized” receiver. However, they say dynamite comes in small packages — and this kid is walking talking TNT.
Isabella was a high school sprinting champion and had a national-best 6.72 seconds in the 60-meter dash. He wasn’t recruited by upper-level programs and accepted his only FBS offer from UMass. He struggled to see playing time as a freshman, but contributed as a punt and kick returner. He spent his sophomore and junior seasons polishing his craft and creating buzz around his play-making ability.
In his senior season, he was a true standout performer, catching 102 balls for 1,682 yards and 13 touchdowns. He led the entire FBS with 141.5 receiving yards per game which earned him a second-team All-American nod. Isabella even had the honor of being a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which is awarded to the nation’s top wide receiver.
Isabella is a fearless slot receiver that is much more than a check down possession target. He possesses a formidable deep-threat speed with the elusiveness to create separation after the catch. He runs sharp routes with the ability to quickly regain top-speed after jukes and cuts. He excels at finding open passing windows while the quarterback scrambles making him a dangerous safety valve in open space.
Many teams will see Isabella’s compact stature as a negative, which could allow him to fall to New England where he can learn from Julian Edelman. With the lack of wide receivers on the roster to begin with, Isabella could battle through the ranks and see significant playing time during the season. If not, he could still see reps as a special teams player, helping out the punt and kick return teams.
Miles Boykin, University of Notre Dame
6’4”, 220 lbs
Miles Boykin has the size, length, and speed that NFL head coaches covet. He has the potential to be a nightmare on the outside, as his height can cause mismatches against most NFL corners.
Boykin burst on the scene during his sophomore season at Notre Dame when he had three catches for 102 yards and a touchdown against LSU in the Citrus Bowl. His performance earned him the games MVP honors and set the stage for his junior year. He led all Notre Dame receivers this past season, racking up 872 yards on 59 receptions and eight touchdowns.
This year’s NFL Combine performance from Boykin surely moved him up many team’s draft boards, as he ran a speedy 4.43 forty-yard dash. He also had a verticle jump of 43.5 inches, which is on display in his film when he repeatedly high-points the ball, making leaping grabs. His long strides allow him to swiftly be on top of the defender, causing cornerbacks to panic and initiate contact.
Boykin was inconsistent throughout his college career and has many areas that need improvement, but he has the raw talent to thrive under the right coaching. If he can learn to utilize his large frame and speed to his advantage, he is the perfect outside receiving threat that New England desperately needs.
Parris Campbell, Ohio State University
6’0”, 205 lbs
Parris Campbell will by flying up draft boards after he smashed the NFL Combine and showed himself to be one of the most talented wideouts in this year’s class.
If it involved speed then Campbell dominated. He ran a forty time of 4.31 seconds which tied Andy Isabella for the fastest among all wide receivers. Campbell was also tied for the fastest 20-yard shuttle by a wideout with a time of 4.03 seconds. He has the deep-threat speed to burn past the defense at the line of scrimmage and the lateral quickness to shake corners and get across the field.
Campbell has the ability to separate from the defender at all three levels which generates soft coverage from cornerbacks. This allows him uncontested short passes where he can use his speed to split tackles and get upfield.
He has excellent body control on the 50/50 throws and uses his 40.0 inch vertical to snatch balls effortlessly out of the air. His leap is sudden and he elevates quickly which can save a quarterback on overthrows. Campbell has put in the work to improve his hands over his career and caught every ball thrown his way at the combine.
Bill Belichick loves his speedy sure-handed slot receivers and Parris Campbell checks every box to become a successful NFL wideout. He can also contribute as a return specialist while he learns the Patriots’ complicated offensive system.
Hunter Renfrow, Clemson University
5’10”, 184 lbs
On paper, Hunter Renfrow doesn’t scream elite wide receiver, but he has that blue collar grind that fits with the New England’s championship brand.
The stats over Renfrow’s career aren’t going to wow anyone, but he steps up when it matters most. He’s been fortunate enough to play in three national championship games with Clemson and shined under the bright lights. He was named Co-Player of the Game, along with Deshaun Watson, after catching two touchdowns in the 2016 National Championship game. The following year he caught two more touchdowns including the game-winning score with one second left on the clock.
He amassed an unbelievable 19 receptions for 190 yards and four touchdowns in three title game appearances. In total, he had 330 yards and five touchdowns in his College Football Playoff career.
He can find space in zone defenses and gains leverage on the defenders with sharp and deliberate breaks. The ball sticks to his hands due to his exceptional hand-eye coordination. Renfrow always seems to be aware of his surroundings and works his way back to the football, making him a reliable underneath option when a play breaks down.
Renfrow has question marks in several areas of his game, as do many receivers that will be drafted in the middle to late rounds of the draft. He’s undersized with short arms, creating a smaller catch radius and would require an accurate passer at quarterback.
Coaching and a place to blossom is exactly what Hunter Renfrow needs to have a fruitful career in the NFL. There’s not a better place than New England, under the tutelage of Bill Belichick, for him to hone his craft and develop.
The kid loves the big stage and if the Patriots draft him, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to dazzle his doubters.