The Patriots continued a trend they've developed in recent years by doubling up on a position in the same draft. Last year it was edge players Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower. In 2011 it was running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley while the year before tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were selected in the same draft.
This time the position was wide receiver, and the second of the two may be a true difference maker. After taking Marshall's Aaron Dobson in the second round on Friday, Bill Belichick tabbed TCU speedster Josh Boyce early in the fourth round on Saturday.
It's Boyce that has me excited. The 5-11, 203-pound wideout can flat out fly. He's an outside receiver with big-play ability – and he ran a sub-4.4 40 during his college days. The latter fact becomes even more impressive when considering he performed the feat with a broken bone in his foot, an injury he's still dealing with at the moment and one that likely allowed him to be available in the fourth round with the 102nd overall pick.
That type of speed hasn't been seen in Foxborough for years, probably going back to another receiver who played his college ball in the state of Texas – Bethel Johnson. Johnson was a second-round pick out of Texas A&M in 2003 and made an immediate impact with his lightning speed on the outside as well as in the kick return game. Johnson didn't sustain his early success due to some poor study habits and a questionable attitude, but there's no denying his athleticism impacted games early in his career.
Perhaps Boyce will provide that type of impact as well. He averaged 15.7 yards per catch during his career with the Horned Frogs on 161 catches. He also found the end zone consistently, scoring 23 touchdowns – all but one coming on receptions.
As a freshman catching balls from current Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton he caught 34 passes for 646 yards and six touchdowns. After Dalton left he became even more productive, grabbing 61 passes for 998 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011 and 66 for 891 yards and seven TDs last season.
Assuming Boyce's foot heals in time for him to get acclimated to the Patriots complicated system, he has a chance to contribute some big plays to an offense that, despite its enormous production, doesn't always generate many. He has the potential to become the kind of deep threat that could keep defenses honest while the likes of Gronkowski, Hernandez and newcomer Danny Amendola work the shorter zone between the numbers.
While Boyce isn't likely to rack up huge numbers as a rookie, he may be just the type of weapon who can provide an explosive play every now and then, and ultimately make a huge impact on the offense – especially in the postseason when one such play can be the difference between advancing and going home.