Over the past couple of weeks (in our shadow roster piece and quarterly report) we’ve discussed various wide receivers who might provide some depth to the position while Danny Amendola gets brought back slowly from his groin injury.
Or, as they would say on TV, “gets brought back slowly from his groin.” Still annoyed that the word “injury” has become superfluous.
To put it nicely, rookies Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce still need work. The Pats brought in Austin Collie last Thursday. More on that below.
Anyway, here’s a look at some potential Patriots pass-catchers. We’re also including our world-famous (not really) High School Fun Facts!
Borderline Collie: We liked Collie out of BYU in 2009. He’s got decent size (6-1, 200) and what he lacks in speed (4.56-second 40-yard dash) he makes up for in quickness (6.78-second 3-cone drill). Still, after sitting this past Sunday, the question remains: can he play? Not just for the Patriots: for anybody. He had at least three concussions from 2010 to 2011 and – after 172 receptions in three seasons – stepped away from football in 2012. Certainly something that will have to be monitored.
High School Fun Fact: The Sacramento Bee named Oak Ridge High’s Collie Northern California’s Most Valuable Player. Had 1,654 all-purpose yards and 24 TDs as a senior along with 53 tackles and two interceptions.
That’ll Leave A Mark: Undrafted rookie Mark Harrison out of (you’ll never believe this) Rutgers showed impressive athleticism at the combine in February before suffering a foot injury that landed him on New England’s non-football injury list. When he’s available later this month, the Pats could potentially use the 6-3, 231-pound receiver as a taller, deep threat much in the same way they have sought to utilize Dobson. Harrison tallied a 4.37-second 40-yard dash and a 38.5-inch vertical leap at the combine, giving him some serious jump-ball potential.
High School Fun Fact: Harrison competed at Bunnell High in Connecticut, where he caught 61 passes for 1,673 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior. Also made the All-Star team in track.
The Sims: Rookie Quentin Sims spent time on the New England roster this summer, when he caught four preseason passes for 86 yards and two TDs as Tim Tebow’s security blanket. Sims spent a little over a week on the practice squad before getting cut early in September. He offers size (6-3, 208) and strength (20 bench reps at his pro day) as well as a modicum of experience with this offense. A Georgia Tech transfer, Sims had admirable production at Tennessee-Martin, catching 16 touchdown passes in 2012 to set an Ohio Valley Conference record.
High School Fun Fact: Sims’ football team won its conference championship all four years he attended Colerain High in Ohio. Besides catching 24 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns his senior year, he also rushed 75 times for 764 yards and seven TDs. When his starting QB got injured in the state playoffs, he took over the position.
Ah, Perez In The Spring: Rookie Perez Ashford out of Northern Illinois (5-10, 188) had some time with the Pats this summer (he later spent August with the Seahawks) and could provide a decent all-around athlete in a pinch. Ashford had over 1,600 all-purpose yards for the Huskies in receiving, rushing and returning punts. Hampered by an ankle injury (sorry: “an ankle”), Ashford managed only 373 yards on 34 catches his senior year. For his NIU highlight reel (where he appears rather Thompkins-like) click here.
High School Fun Fact: In his football career at Shaker Heights High in Ohio, Ashford totaled 140 catches for 2,250 receiving yards and 21 TDs. Also served as captain on the track and field team.
Will It Be Dunn? We’ve been touting The Fastest Man Of The Spring, Utah’s Reggie Dunn, for months now, including this piece from April on potential returners in the 2013 draft. Measuring 5-9, 178 pounds, Dunn ran a 4.25-second 40 at his pro day in March. This past season, he ran back four 100-yard kickoffs for touchdowns, even more impressive when noted he only got 10 chances to return the football (hey, you wouldn’t kick to him, either). Signed as an undrafted free agent by Pittsburgh in late April, Dunn caught one pass for 10 yards and ran twice for 19 total yards in the preseason. He currently resides on the Green Bay practice squad, meaning the Patriots could sign him as an active roster addition.
High School Fun Fact: At Verbum Dei High in California, Dunn played receiver, returner and cornerback. Had over 1,000 all-purpose yards and 15 TDs as a senior. Not surprisingly, he also ran track.
Aiken For Another Chance: The Patriots put Kamar Aiken on the active roster late last season, then cut him and placed him on the practice squad. After some positive signs in the preseason (two catches for 23 yards at Philly August 9), Kamar got hampered by an injury. The Pats waived the 2011 Central Florida alum with an injury settlement in early September. Another guy with size (6-1, 213) and decent speed (4.45 40), Aiken could force defenses to focus on the outside while also serving as a potential possession receiver.
High School Fun Fact: Aiken attended Chaminade-Madonna High in Hollywood, Florida. As a senior defensive back, he totaled 60 tackles and five interceptions, including a 95-yard pick-six. On offense, had over 1,000 all-purpose yards and 15 TDs.
And now, a quick perusal of the NFL waiver wire…
What Would A Dendrophiliac Do? Now that Kevin Ogletree finds himself in Detroit, maybe the Pats should keep an eye on him. After all, the former Cowboy (and future former Lion) just got cut from Tampa Bay, which has recently taken on the reverse effect of sending its denizens to New England for a better outlook on life. Ogletree spent his college years in Virginia under former coach (and Bill Belichick bud) Al Groh. Ogletree’s finest NFL season came in 2012, when he had 32 receptions for 436 yards and four touchdowns. Never a big threat, but could produce in a system with an accurate QB (and without Dez Bryant). Just 26 years old.
High School Fun Fact: Ogletree attended Holy Cross High in Queens, NY, where he earned league Player of the Year honors with 61 receptions for 1,170 yards and 19 TDs. Also excelled in hoops and baseball.
Whalen Away: Receiver Griff Whalen, out of Stanford in 2012, just got cut by the Colts and will probably get placed back onto their practice squad (he was Andrew Luck‘s college teammate, after all). Whalen lacks size (5-10, 184) and speed (4.55 40), but he has been lauded for his quickness (4.06 20-yard shuttle, 6.89 3-cone drill) and his precise route-running. Though he has only two career NFL catches, he did tally nine receptions for 91 yards in three preseason games this past August.
High School Fun Fact: At Southview High in Sylvania, Ohio, Whalen excelled at defensive back, totaling 97 tackles and 11 interceptions in his career. Played QB and threw for 1,381 yards and 32 TDs.
Family Fun Fact: Whalen’s great-uncle is Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver OH MY GOD I’M SO OLD.
Thumbs Up For Ebert? Northwestern product (and former Patriot) Jeremy Ebert has bounced between the Jacksonville roster and practice squad this season – which, sure, considering the state of the Jaguars is a tad scary – but could contribute in Foxboro as a fifth receiver. He had two receptions for 10 yards this year. The Pats drafted Ebert in the seventh round in 2012, we assume based on his speed (4.38 40) and quickness (6.70 3-cone drill) demonstrated at his pro day. Caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Mallett in an ugly 2012 preseason loss at Tampa Bay.
High School Fun Fact: In his career as a quarterback at Hilliard Darby High in Ohio, Ebert passed for 3,835 yards and 30 TDs and rushed for 2,698 yards and 26 TDs. Also played shooting guard for the basketball team.
No Bias Against Tobais: Rookie wide receiver Tobais Palmer (it’s pronounced just like Tobias, so, whatever) flourished as an all-around offensive weapon at NC State last season. He set a one-game record vs. Clemson in November with 496 all-purpose yards, including 219 yards receiving and three touchdowns. (You can see highlights of that game here.) The diminutive Palmer (5-10, 178) turned some heads at his pro day, running a 4.39-second 40, a 4.19-second 20-yard shuttle and a 6.82-second 3-cone drill. Palmer had only one catch for six yards in the preseason for the Jaguars (again, scary) who cut him September 30. His QB at NC State was none other than current Tampa Bay starter Mike Glennon.
High School Fun Fact: In three seasons at Northwood High in North Carolina, Palmer rushed for 4,700 yards and scored 80 – that’s eight-zero – all-purpose TDs. Was a state champion in the 100-meter dash his senior year.
All Is Clark, Der Kommissar? Rookie Arceto Clark out of Mississippi State spent time in Seattle and Cleveland. He’s only 5-10, 181 pounds and has the straight-line speed that a grocery store express lane seems to have when you’e in a hurry (4.58-second 40), but he had a remarkably devilish 3-cone drill time of 6.66 seconds (for comparison, Amendola ran a 6.81 at the 2008 combine while Julian Edelman ran a 6.62 at his 2009 pro day). Clark caught three passes in the preseason for 37 yards. At Mississippi State, Clark averaged 13.5 yards per catch (36 for 487).
High School Fun Fact: At Shannon High in Tupelo, Mississippi, Clark had four interceptions as an all-state defensive back his senior year. As a junior wide receiver, he averaged 19.7 yards per catch (56 for 1,090) and scored 10 TDs.
Anyone you’re thinking of who can add depth to New England’s passing attack? Let us know in the comments section below.
Chris Warner receives email at [email protected] and even tweets once in a while: @cwarn89