Aaron Dobson (left) was taken in the second round by the Patriots. (AP)
While the grades are starting to trickle in on how the Patriots fared last month in the NFL draft, one NFC scout said he was impressed by what New England was able to do, saying the Patriots picked up at least four players who will be able to contribute as rookies.
“The Patriots seemed to have a solid draft,” he told WEEI.com on Wednesday. “They went out and picked potential playmakers that have the ability to contribute immediately.”
On offense, the selection of wide receivers — Aaron Dobson in the second-round and Josh Boyce in the fourth-round — defined New England’s draft, as far as he was concerned. While his team had some questions about Dobson as a collegian, he feels that the Patriots will be able to develop Dobson into a “solid player.”
“Dobson is a size/speed wide receiver that has tools to develop into a solid pro,” he said. “However, he does have some motor and contested-catch inconsistency in college but if Patriots can get it out of him, he can be a solid player. Boyce could also be a solid contributor as a developmental wide receiver and special teams player in his first year in the league.”
While several people have raved about the football IQ of both Dobson and Boyce, the two receivers are unlike most receivers the Patriots have targeted in the draft the last few years in that they are bigger, more physical types: Dobson is a 6-foot-3, 203-pounder out of Marshall (tied with P.K. Sam as the tallest receiver Bill Belichick ever drafted) who ended up with 165 receptions, 2,398 receiving yards and 24 touchdown catches. Meanwhile, the 5-foot-11 Boyce electrified the combine after a college career that saw him finish with 161 catches for 2,535 yards and 22 touchdowns in his three seasons at TCU.
“The Patriots seem to view wide receivers differently,” he said, “as they are willing to take a chance on size/speed guys, and are willing to admit mistakes and move on if they don’t fit the bill.”
On defense, two guys really stick out as guys who can start immediately: second-round pick Jamie Collins and third-round selection Logan Ryan.
“Collins has athleticism and ability to develop into an edge pass rusher on sub downs early in his career,” he said. “And Logan Ryan has the potential to be a solid workman like contributor that lacks top elite physical tools but knows how to play the position and plays the right way.”
As for the rest of the Patriots offseason, the scout believes that there will be several teams watching the burgeoning relationship between quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Danny Amendola. It was well-known throughout the league that Brady and Wes Welker had an extraordinary working relationship, and played out with tremendous on-field success over a six-year span.
“The loss of Welker will hurt, because of the synergy between he and Brady,” he said. “Amendola has ability but don’t know how long it will take to develop that chemistry with Brady. Welker had unique feel for situations, route pass, reading and reacting off of coverage and spacing. That’s all stuff that comes with time in the system and a willingness to work with the quarterback.”
Ultimately, in his experience, the scout believes that Amendola will have success in the New England system.
“I believe Amendola should be a productive player, based on how New England uses personnel to find favorable mismatches,” he said. “Amendola is a player you have to respect because of the intensity that he plays with and the fact that he’s absolutely fearless and will sacrifice his body for the ball. You can try to get hands on him to slow him down and do things to eliminate space to make it hard for the quarterback to find him quickly, but it’s tough.”