From blockbuster trades to record-breaking contracts, the wide receiver position has been at the forefront of this NFL offseason. Now the league is preparing to welcome another seemingly generational class into this year’s NFL Draft.
With all the movement and money spent this offseason, receivers are now as valuable as ever. Could this lead to teams being more aggressive in the draft to add impact playmakers on affordable contracts? New Patriots Director of Player Personnel matt groh believes it.
“Yeah, I think it was easy to say at a certain point, maybe in free agency, ‘OK, well, it looks like a lot of these teams are just going to wait to get a player in the draft and get a version much cheaper.’ And then all of a sudden you saw some of these really big contracts, whether it was day two, day three, day four for these wide receivers, and then the trades for these wide receivers,” Groh noted during his pre-draft press conference Friday. . “Anywhere teams can add an instant impact player, which is what these wide receivers are in the game today, they’re going to do. You can’t just sit and wait and hope to get one of these guys in the draft. You have to be proactive about going after one.
Is this an indication that the Patriots plan to be more aggressive at receiver than they have been in recent years. Despite the unprecedented level of talent coming out of college, the team has drafted just two receivers in the past three years — N’Keal Harry in the first round in 2019 and Tre Nixon in the seventh round in 2021.
Throughout the pre-draft process, the Patriots have been connected to a number of the best names in this year’s class. They met the majority of players at the position expected to enter the top 50.
Even if they don’t land an All-Pro-caliber receiver this offseason, Groh doesn’t expect the pipeline to cool down anytime soon. “It just helps the overall popularity of the sport,” Groh said when asked why the latest drafts were so seemingly stored at the catcher’s. “There are so many more seven-on-seven leagues, these kids are playing a lot earlier, honing their runs, catching the ball better, all that kind of stuff. With the growth of the game and its popularity, that’s what kids want to do. They want to score touchdowns. Basketball will always be a popular sport. Baseball, hockey. But where football is at, especially in some of these parts of the country, is the cool thing to do. We have another great class of wide receivers this year, and I think that’s going to keep coming.
Of course, more receiver talent also means more testing on the defensive side of the ball. “Every year there will be more and more of these guys,” Groh added. “So you have to be prepared to deal with these guys on the reverse on the defensive side of the ball as well.”
Groh would have been instrumental in the Patriots’ outstanding 2021 draft class that added immediate impact players to key positions of need in Mac Jones, Christian Barmore and Rhamondre Stevenson. Can he give Jones a boost and make a similar addition at wide receiver this year? Here’s a look at some of the best receivers in this year’s draft…
Patriots Draft Preview: Wide Receivers
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