FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots will only be returning two receivers from last year’s active roster in Julian Edelman and Philip Dorsett. With an eighth-ranked passing offense in 2018, the Patriots will have an uphill battle to maintain the success they have had in recent years.
New England drafted receiver N’Keal Harry in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft and has the potential to be a number one target. The team also signed three free agent receivers, including Demaryius Thomas, Dontrelle Inman and Maurice Harris. Rounding out the receiving corps is Braxton Berrios who is coming off injury and practice squad member Damoun Patterson. Since Josh Gordon has been suspended indefinitely, he will not be included in this list.
All eight will be competing for a spot on the active roster, so here is an inside look at the wide receiver rankings in the Patriots offense.
8) Damoun Patterson
Patterson was signed by New England to the practice squad on Nov. 9, 2018. Prior to that, he has spent time on both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squads.
Verdict: Although he has yet to see time on an active roster, his size and strength could be a valuable asset moving forward.
7) Braxton Berrios
Berrios came into the Patriots organization as a sixth-round pick and potential Julian Edelman replacement after Edelman eventually retires.
However, injuries plagued Berrios' rookie season before it even began.
Berrios fits the mold perfectly for a slot receiver standing at 5-foot-9 and weighing 190 pounds.
During his time at the University of Miami, he posted 100 catches for 1,175 yards. Half of that production came during his senior year when he finished with 55 catches and 679 yards and nine touchdowns.
Verdict: Now with a clean bill of health, Berrios has a legitimate chance to make the final 53 while learning behind one of the leagues top slot receivers in Edelman.
6) Maurice Harris
Harris was signed as a free agent back in March of this year. He was the first of three receivers signed in an attempt to bolster the thinning group. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has spent the last three seasons with the Washington Redskins. Last season, Harris made the most of his opportunity in Washington D.C., recording 28 catches for 304 yards in seven starts.
Verdict: He is ranked slightly above Berrios simply because he has more professional experience. He has also been a standout in minicamp and his size is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
5) Dontrelle Inman
Inman is another big-bodied receiver signed as a free agent last month. He spent the first few years as a professional in the Canadian Football League before joining the then San Diego Chargers and posted the best season of his career in 2016 with 58 catches for 810 yards and four touchdowns.
Verdict: Inman still has a lot to prove in training camp, but should be a lock to make the active roster.
4) Demaryius Thomas
An achilles injury hampered Thomas’ playing time in 2018. He split time between the Broncos and the Texans last season and put up 59 catches for 677 yards with five touchdowns before going down with an injury. Thomas does have an impressive resume, including a Super Bowl championship back in 2015.
Verdict: Pending his health, look for Thomas to have a bounce back year as he pairs up with Tom Brady.
3) Phillip Dorsett
Dorsett is entering his third year in the Patriots organization after being acquired from the Indianapolis Colts. He has quickly become one of Brady’s most trusted receivers behind Edelman, even if his stats don’t reflect that.
Verdict: With another year under his belt, Dorsett should flourish in this offense now that Rob Gronkowski is no longer with the team.
2) N’Keal Harry
Harry was a worthy first-round pick considering his production at Arizona State. Through three years of college, Harry recorded 213 receptions for 2,889 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was widely considered as one of the best receivers in the draft and with a leader and teammate like Tom Brady, he should have no problem fitting in.
Harry brings a rare combination of hand strength and contested catch ability coupled with a blend of athletic prowess.
Verdict: With the departure of Gronkowski, Harry will likely be the top target to fill that slot void while also being a valuable threat on the outside.
1) Julian Edelman
Without question, Edelman comes into the 2019 season as Brady’s top target. Although he just turned 33 and is entering his 11th year, Edelman is believed to still have a lot left in the tank. With 108 targets last year, he ranked first on the team and will look to continue that trend heading into this season.
Verdict: He has been a trusted leader on the offense and with still plenty left to prove, Edelman will be the top producer on this team once again.