New England Patriots wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins has fallen out of favor lately. His production has dipped (five receptions, 61 yards, and zero touchdowns in his last three games), and he has struggled to separate against opposing defensive backs. Yet that was no reason for Bill Belichick to make the young wide receiver a healthy scratch against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
First we must consider Thompkins’ production as a whole. He’s had some good games, including a stretch where the rookie wide receiver caught four touchdown passes in four games. While his production has been inconsistent, it’s been good at times.
Let’s also remember that Thompkins is an undrafted rookie free agent. Any sort of meaningful production out of Thompkins in his first NFL season must be considered a bonus. When a player comes in as an UDFA, a coach should expect a lot of lapses in both practice and on the football field. Considering that, Thompkins has done more than his share. He has far outproduced the expectations that come with his status.
And who exactly is supposed to be jumping Thompkins on the depth chart? Clearly Josh McDaniels prefers Julian Edelman to Thompkins, but that is foolish considering that Edelman is a slot receiver like Danny Amendola. When Edelman and Amendola play together in three-receiver sets, one of them has to play on the outside, which isn’t advantageous to their skill-sets. However, Thompkins is an outside receiver, which makes him the perfect fit to be the No. 3 receiver on the team.
McDaniels may prefer veteran slot receivers, but Thompkins should still have a spot on this team. He is a true outside threat who runs good routes. Plus he’s too young to give up on already. At the very least, Thompkins should be active for depth purposes. Making him inactive does nothing but hurt the team.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.