By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick has few blemishes on his record as Patriots head coach and even fewer weaknesses in his approach to picking and evaluating players. But one of those weak areas has been drafting and developing players at wide receiver.
Since hiring Belichick in 2000, the Patriots have drafted 13 wide receivers. They have had success with the likes of Deion Branch and Julian Edelman, but that’s pretty much it…For the most part, they have missed badly with relatively high picks like Bethel Johnson, Chad Jackson, Taylor Price, and Josh Boyce, none of which lasted more than three seasons in the league. 2013 second-rounder Aaron Dobson could be the next bust to get cut from the team.
Despite their historical lack of success drafting wide receivers, the Patriots may not be done going back to that well. NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net tweeted Thursday that the Patriots are interested in using their second-round pick on Ohio State quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller. Sounds familiar.
You can watch Miller’s most famous highlight with Ohio State in the video above, in which he pulls an absurd spin move a la Madden and sprints to the end zone. At 6’1″ and 215 pounds, Miller has the size to play outside the numbers and can make big plays in space and line up in the backfield, as you can see in the video. Bill Belichick must love his versatility.
If the Patriots draft Miller, New England will collectively hold its breath to see if he fits in Brady’s offense or not. Julian Edelman has grown over the past six years into one of the most dangerous possession receivers in the NFL, but entered the 2009 NFL Draft as a converted quarterback with limited experience at receiver. Besides him and Deion Branch, a 2002 second-round pick, the Patriots have largely failed to draft and develop consistently reliable or productive receivers for Tom Brady. Most of their successful players at that position – Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Brandon LaFell, etc. – have come through trades and free agency.
Miller’s lack of experience at receiver means he will need time to develop his game at the NFL level, but he definitely has the athleticism and tools to be a big-play receiver and an ideal outside threat for Brady. He’s projected as a “top 100” pick and the Steelers and Chiefs have also reportedly expressed interest, though, so there’s no guarantee that the Patriots can snag Miller in the second round without trading up.
Do you want the Patriots to draft a receiver this year? If so, should it be Miller? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.