Patriots 2013 draft: Wide receivers to target

Southern California wide receiver Robert Woods could be a target for the Patriots. (Getty Images)
Southern California wide receiver Robert Woods could be a target for the Patriots. (Getty Images)

It would be nice if Tom Brady had a few new toys to play with this season.

The Patriots lost his favorite target, Wes Welker, to the rival Broncos. They also cut Brandon Lloyd. Nobody seems to be sure what the extent of Rob Gronkowski’s arm injury is, and fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez has an injury history himself.

The Patriots did sign Danny Amendola and Donald Jones, but it’s hard to get too excited over that.

With the NFL Draft set for tonight, some Pats fans hope a wide receiver is taken in the first round. Bad news for those folks: The Patriots haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round since Terry Glenn in 1997. And here’s a list of the wide receivers New England has taken in the second or third rounds since 2002: Deion Branch, Bethel Johnson, Chad Jackson, Brandon Tate, and Taylor Price. Aside from Branch, it’s an ugly list.

Nonetheless here are three wide receivers New England could be interested in:

Justin Hunter, Tennessee
If you want one reason that the Patriots could be interested in Hunter, look no further than his frame. Standing at 6-foot-4, 196 pounds, Hunter has the prototypical build of an outside threat that the Patriots have lacked since Randy Moss was traded away. Hunter tore his ACL in 2011, but returned in 2012 to make 73 receptions for 1,083 yards and nine TDs for the Volunteers. His height and speed combination make him a worthy candidate for the Pats in the first round. We can already picture Brady telling him to go up and get it.

Robert Woods, USC
At an even 6-feet, Woods is smaller then Hunter and less of a deep threat, which might not be what the Patriots are looking for. But his skills aren’t debatable. In his junior season he racked up 76 receptions for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns with an ankle issue. His sophomore season was even better: 111 receptions, 1,292 yards and 15 TDs. Woods is a late first round candidate.

Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
If New England skips out on a wide receiver in the first round – very possible – they could take less of a gamble on Patton, who put together a very strong career at Louisiana Tech, in the second or third. Patton seems to have the skills that enable him to be a threat inside and out, and experts say he’s a hard worker that does his job well even without the ball.



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