If there were ever a rookie class in the Bill Belichick era that had the opportunity to shine, it might just be the 2013 class of the New England Patriots.
WR’s Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Mark Harrison
For well publicized reasons, this off-season has wreaked havoc on the New England passing game, with almost all of last season’s receiving production either moved on, behind bars, or otherwise sidelined at this point in time, there’s never been a better opportunity for a rookie receiver to step in and fill the void in New England.
The Patriots have historically been a hard place for rookie receivers to break in, with a very complicated offensive system that even veterans like Joey Galloway and Chad Johnson have reportedly had difficulty picking up. This year might be different however, as they’re sure to simplify the playbook a bit due to the fact that they’re going to be forced to rely on rookies for a lot of downs and new veteran players for most of the rest.
Dobson, Boyce, and Harrison all have the physical attributes and necessary character and mindset to succeed at the NFL level, and now they have what every NFL prospect craves the most: legitimate opportunity. The only question is: who will take advantage of it?
OLB Jamie Collins
Following the draft, NFL network analyst Mike Mayock referred to Collins as “One of the most explosive edge rushers in this draft.” That’s exactly what the Patriots have been lacking for several seasons now. ESPN Boston recently called Collins the team’s most athletic linebacker. Between Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo, and second year linebacker Dont’a Hightower the Patriots have had a very complete linebacking group with the exception of a consistent pass rushing threat. If Collins can provide that, he can fit right in and start producing on the field immediately.
DB’s Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon
Recent history has shown Belichick sometimes likes to draft multiple players out of the same program. Florida is a great example, New England has drafted many of their players, and currently features three on the roster (and it would be 4 if not for the Hernandez situation). Well, with 8 former players on our current roster it appears Rutgers is the new Florida. Everybody knows one of those guys; Devin McCourty and everyone also knows the Patriots are weak in the secondary. On top of Ryan, Harmon, and McCourty, Brandon Jones also hails from Rutgers and is vying for a place in the secondary. While I’m sure not all of them will land with the team, I expect production from Harmon and Ryan, provided their effort meets the given opportunity.
TE’s Zack Sudfeld and Brandon Ford
Just because “why not?” I’m throwing Sudfeld and Ford on this list. Neither was drafted, but given the mass exodus of talent at the tight end position via surgery and arrest, everyone should have a chance here. Sudfeld stands at 6-7, 260, which makes him both a large target in the end zone, and a sizable tight end that might potentially help blocking for a run.
Just two players you might see on the roster.