The New England Patriots have marginally improved their receiving corps through free agency this offseason — only marginally though. The Patriots still need a receiver who can help stretch the field. As talented as he is, DeSean Jackson would not be the answer. A great solution would be if the Patriots could somehow pull off a trade with the Houston Texans that would send Andre Johnson to New England. Who knows how likely that is to happen, but it would be fantastic for the Patriots and their fans if they somehow pulled it off. If the Patriots do not acquire a big play receiver through free agency or a trade, they should absolutely draft a wide receiver.
Trading up in the draft for the likes of Sammy Watkins out of Clemson seems highly unlikely since the Patriots hardly ever trade up and Watkins will certainly be drafted in the top 10. The Patriots have traded down a number of times in the years Bill Belichick has been the head coach, but they rarely trade up. Watkins could be exactly the big play receiver the Patriots need, but it’s unlikely they draft him.
The Patriots have the 29th overall pick in the 2014 draft. While not a certainty, it is possible that Kelvin Benjamin out of Florida State will still be available when they make their first selection. Benjamin certainly could be drafted earlier than 29, but if no one has drafted him by then the Patriots should snatch him up with their first round pick. The Patriots may feel the same way since Belichick and six other members of the Patriots staff worked previously worked out Benjamin on the FSU campus.
Benjamin redshirted his 2011 season at FSU but was one of current Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel‘s favorite targets in 2012. Benjamin had 30 receptions for 495 yards and four touchdowns in 2012 as a redshirt freshman. He was 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston‘s top target in 2013, and he led the ACC with 15 receiving touchdowns. That also happens to be a Florida State single season record. Benjamin also had 54 receptions for 1,011 yards in 2013.
Benjamin is a 6-foot-5, 240-pounds, and his size is clearly his biggest asset. He can create mismatches and is an excellent red zone target because of his size. Therehave been many receivers with Benjamin’s height who rely solely on their size and cannot run routes. Benjamin is not one of those receivers; he can run routes and actually has some speed coming in and out of his breaks. Is he the best route runner? No, but not many receivers of his size bring the route running ability he does have to the table. In addition, Benjamin has shown the ability to create some separation when running a sideline route straight down the field. Even if he doesn’t get the separation he’d like, he has proven he can straight go up and get the ball or even come back to the ball if needed. Benjamin has also shown he has incredible body control, which is a huge plus for the type of receiver he is.
It’s true Benjamin needs to work on the number of drops he has had, and maybe that’s why the Patriots wanted to work him out. Patriots QB Tom Brady does not take kindly to drops, but if Benjamin works on that (and with Brady as his QB he would), his upside is potentially huge. Benjamin is the type of big, physical receiver who can stretch the field, and the Patriots are sorely missing that at the receiver position. If Benjamin falls to them at 29, they shouldn’t hesitate to draft him.