For all of his acrobatics and ability to turn the mundane into dramatic, departed wide receiver Brandon Lloyd never quite matched expectations as a deep threat paired with Tom Brady. Granted, these shoes were almost doomed to underwhelm considering the last man to effectively fill them for the New England Patriots was Randy Moss. It also didn’t help lower expectations that Lloyd led the NFL in receiving yards not long before joining the Pats.
Now that Lloyd has left New England without a 1,000-yard season, the franchise would be wise to find the deep threat to complement the beautiful short-to-intermediate game with Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker clone Danny Amendola. New England did recently sign Michael Jenkins — offering nothing more deep.
Fortunately there are a few decent deep options both remaining in free agency and awaiting in the draft.
It’s hard to imagine Bill Belichick bringing Randy Moss back after the way that situation devolved in 2010. Darrius Heyward-Bey became a surprise top-10 selection almost solely due to his speed — and Al Davis‘ maniacal love of speed — but still hasn’t totally cleared “bust” status. He has shown glimpses over the past two seasons and certainly improved upon earlier campaigns, but plugging him in this role does present risk. Domenik Hixon, while not a highly-coveted deep threat or someone who reels in a ton of passes, has shown a proven knack for connecting downfield with New York Giants.
The top of the 2013 NFL draft class features some intriguing speed options at receiver including Tennessee‘s Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, California‘s Keenan Allen and Clemson‘s DeAndre Hopkins.