Nowadays wide receivers are demanded to make plays.
"I think the hardest position to evaluate in college football is wide receiver because the game they play in college doesn't always translate to the game we play in the National Football League.." NFL Analyst Michael Lombardi revealed.
Positional evolutions in the NFL are inevitable. As receivers are faced with leaner and explosive cornerbacks, safeties are also increasingly versatile and the offense is attacked more incessantly. Because of this, receivers are required to do more than just make the catch.
The Patriots are drastically shallow depth-wise in terms of receivers. Randy Moss is entering his 13th year in the league and Wes Welker is recovering from anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament tears in his left knee, the Patriots are in serious need for new receiving talent.
Big names in New England are rarely ever sought after. Although unexpectedly in 2007, the Patriots signed a troubled and talented receiver from the Oakland Raiders. After Three years and a Super Bowl appearance, Randy Moss has evolved into the top wide receiver in New England and is ranked above Jerry Rice in touchdowns caught in a season.
In 2009, Moss managed 83 receptions for a total of 1,264 yards along with 13 touchdowns and averaged 15.2 yards per catch. The Marshall alum is entering his final year in the three-year, $27 million contract with the Patriots. From what Moss has evaluated about the business, this will be his last year under Coach Bill Belichick.
Moss explained to ESPN Boston, "I understand the beast, the nature of it...with what I think and what I know I don't think they're going to re-sign me back...So, the only thing I can do is just play this year out and see what my future holds after that."
Other than Welker and Moss, few names on the Patriots' roster have shown any promise of production for the approaching 2010-2011 season. Quarterback-turned-wide receiver Julian Edelman finished his rookie season with a notable 37 catches for 359 yards and a single touchdown. Edelman was abruptly forced to step up as a slot receiver in place of Welker, in which he showed promise but it was evident that he is still a developing player.
With a plenty of wide receivers in the the 2010 Draft class, the Patriots could very well use one of their 12 picks on a receiver with the versatility of Wes Welker and the skill set of Randy Moss.
|Minnesota WR E. Decker |
In Comes the Draft: Prospective Wide Receivers
Leadership for the receiving group is not a question. Even if Moss is only one the team for an additional year, the presence of David Patten, even if briefly, will be advantageous for the next batch of receivers.
Eric Decker, the 6'3, 217 lbs. receiver from the University of Minnesota has made great impressions on teams without doing a single drill at the Combine. Due to a Lisfranc sprain during his senior year, only recorded 50 catches for 758 yards in a mere eight games.
Regardless of the the injury, Decker's greatest attribute are his infallible hands. Boasting only a single fumble in 45 games during his collegiate career, the natural athleticism that Decker posses greatly overshadows his injury. Decker finished his time in Minnesota with 227 total receptions for 3,119 yards and 24 touchdowns.
The Minnesota native confessed in Sporting News that he compares himself to Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, "...comparable in size, a Minnesota man and a true professional in the way he handles his business on and off the field." Decker has said numerous times that he wishes to emulate the playing finesse of Fitzgerald.
According to a league source, Decker was one of the receivers to visit Foxboro for a pre Draft mneeting
The next prospect may come as a surprise.
University of Connecticut's Marcus Easley is an interesting prospect for wide receiver because of the mystery that surrounds his football past. As a walk-on for the Huskies, Easley was not a stand out until his senior in which he managed 48 catches for 893 yards and eight touchdowns. Easley also averaged an impressive 18.6 yard per catch. The 6'3, 210 lbs. prospect needs improvement on cleaning up his route execution to become an effective deep threat.
Todd McShay of ESPN Scouts Inc. explains that Easley is, "..big and fast and can move...Obviously, he's still developing, still learning the game, and I think his best football is still in front of him."
Easley's stock has been on a steady rise, mostly because of sheer intrigue by teams in his surprising senior year performance. Projected to go in the middle to late rounds, Easley would be a great developmental investment for the Patriots to use of one of their eight later draft picks on.
Sometimes the best receivers are not in the first four rounds. In some situations, like that of Wes Welker's, some of the best aren't even drafted. The 2010 NFL Draft is quickly approaching and New England must strengthen their offense as much as their defense. By giving quarterback Tom Brady more options on the field and in the future, success for the Patriots will not longer just be in the hands of just two receivers.
Kisha Tapangan covers the NFL and the New England Patriots for PatriotsInsider.com. To read more of her material, visit her blog at www.nrwithkisha.com . Follow Kisha on Twitter: @KishaT
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