Josh Gordon is back, and the New England Patriots couldn’t be any happier. The incredibly talented wideout faced an indefinite suspension but was conditionally reinstated after an appeal. Gordon’s arrival obviously shakes up the New England Patriots wide receiver depth chart, so let’s take a look at how things stand with Tom Brady’s pass catchers.
Updated New England Patriots Wide Receiver Depth Chart With Josh Gordon
The Starters: Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon
Julian Edelman is obviously a starter and should be back on the field before long. His thumb injury was supposed to sideline him for roughly three weeks, and the injury occurred about three weeks ago. Expect to see him healthy and ready to go in Week One.
Even with his extended absence, Josh Gordon should start the year as New England’s primary perimeter receiver. Gordon was nothing short of amazing with the Patriots, averaging 18.0 yards per catch despite having to learn the playbook and gain Tom Brady’s trust overnight. Brady looked Gordon’s way in several big moments last year, and that trust should carry over into 2019. Gordon’s a physical freak with an ability to make big plays on all three levels of the field. Assuming he’s in good mental and physical condition, look for him to be the primary outside threat for however long he’s with the team.
More tackle-breaking here. He slows down near the end but another great example of how good he can be after the catch pic.twitter.com/3xLJIIcCQX
— Dave Latham (@DLPatsThoughts) August 16, 2019
Rookie Standouts: N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers
As of this posting, the rookies would be the first players off the bench if the season started tomorrow. N’Keal Harry is fighting off an injury, but it’s reportedly minor and shouldn’t sideline him for long. Harry is still searching for consistency, but he reportedly makes jaw-dropping catch on a consistent basis, and that skill translated into the first preseason game.
Jakobi Meyers has been the star of training camp. After going undrafted, the North Carolina State product tore up training camp and was the star of the preseason opener. While he didn’t test well during the draft process, he has everything the Patriots want in a receiver. He has the size to win contested catches, the versatility to move around the formation, and the toughness to hold onto any pass thrown his way. Meyers might not play the biggest role in 2019, but he has the raw skills to stick around in New England.
The play of the game: N'Keal Harry's ridiculous sideline grab. Unreal body control and positioning. Can't wait to see what he can do in this offense pic.twitter.com/33Fky9jrQz
— Dave Latham (@DLPatsThoughts) August 9, 2019
Frontrunners for Depth
New England tends to carry six wide receivers on their depth chart, and five spots are already locked in (Matthew Slater is the fifth). This leaves Phillip Dorsett, Braxton Berrios, Maurice Harris, and Dontrelle Inman fighting for a spot at the bottom of the depth chart. Each player brings their own unique ability to the club, and each has their own case for the roster.
Dorsett is a known commodity who already has a sound grasp of the offense. He was remarkably efficient and could be a nice security blanket on a team with considerable turnover at the position. Braxton Berrios is a far cry from Julian Edelman, but he could play a Danny Amendola role if given the chance. Maurice Harris was the star of minicamp but hasn’t transferred that success to training camp or the preseason. Dontrelle Inman is clearly last on this list, although he’s had a few nice practices in recent days.
Update: Inman’s agent requested a release, and the Patriots granted his wish.
New England’s best option might be to break tradition and carry seven receivers into the regular season. Given Edelman’s injury history, Gordon’s suspension woes, and the natural unpredictability of rookies, the Patriots could use as many receivers as possible, at least in the short term. Carrying Dorsett and Berrios makes the most sense, and the Patriots could get by with just Matt LaCosse and James Develin at tight end until Ben Watson returns. Additionally, they could also put Harris on the short-term injured reserve, depending on the severity of his injury.
Demaryius Thomas and Cameron Meredith are both on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and that shouldn’t change between now and the regular season. These two could provide support midway through the season, or they could just as easily do nothing.
Damoun Patterson, Gunner Olszewski, and Ryan Davis have basically no chance of making this roster. All three could easily make the practice squad, with Olszewski probably being the top priority. His ability to return kicks combined with his positional versatility give him an intriguing future. If nothing else, he’s a great addition to the scout team.
Special Teams Lock: Slater
What can be said about Matthew Slater that hasn’t already been said? He may be a receiver in name only, but he’s one of the most important players in the locker room. Given his leadership and how much Bill Belichick values special teams, it’s hard to imagine Slater ever playing anywhere but New England. Slater rounds out the Patriots wide receiver depth chart, even if he probably won’t catch a pass all season.
Embed from Getty Images