Skip to main content

Official website of the New England Patriots

Replay: Best of Radio Thu Feb 29 - 02:00 PM | Tue Mar 05 - 11:55 AM

Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: WR depth, QB competition and more roster talk

With minicamp underway there's lots of talk about positional battles and roster makeup in this week's mailbag.


In terms of wide receiver, I think we can count Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne as roster locks. I'll include Gunner Olszewski in the WR group because of his punt return abilities even if he doesn't take too many non-special teams snaps. Some combo of Isaiah Zuber and Kristian Wilkerson and Tre Nixon will be the fifth and sixth WR on the roster. I have N'Keal Harry traded or cut. Would you disagree? - Alan Bernstein

It's awfully early to be making these kinds of roster predictions but that's never stopped me before so I'll take a shot. I totally agree with your top three as locks. I don't see any scenario in which any of those three gets cut. The rest is pretty much up in the air. Harry could definitely be traded but if he's not I'd place him as a lock as well. As a third-year former first-round pick on a very affordable contract he's not getting cut. I agree if Olszewski wins the punt return job he will be in the mix as well. From there it depends how many receivers they choose to keep, and in what capacity. Bill Belichick always has receivers on the practice squad and some of these guys are candidates. Zuber spent time on the active roster last year and could be in the mix with a strong camp. Marvin Hall has some NFL experience and has shown some speed during the spring. I haven't seen much thus far from Wilkerson or Nixon but there's a long way to go. - Paul Perillo

I have a really good feeling about this season, especially when it comes to who will be making plays in New England at the quarterback position. If Cam Newton can bring the play he displayed in the first four games of the season mixed with the added time with the playbook and the very good additions on offence I think it will be a successful season. I think Newton's ability to create a positive environment through his infectious personality is very underrated. This along with his insane work rate and his competitive spirit also his hatred for losing and I think we are in for a welcome surprise this year. What do you think about this and keep giving us your honest opinion on all Patriots matters. - Marc Saez

If the Patriots are going to make your prediction come true they're going to need a lot more from whoever starts at quarterback than what Cam Newton gave them last season – even if we're counting just the first four games. In his first four games last season Newton threw just two touchdowns against four interceptions. He did rush for five touchdowns during that stretch, but four of them came in the first two weeks. Aside from the second half of the Seattle loss in Week 2, he wasn't overly effective in the other three-and-a-half games. He should be much improved with a full offseason under his belt, and if that's the case he also has some better options to throw to – especially the tight ends. If Newton shows significant improvement, I believe your prediction for this season will be accurate.- Paul Perillo

Do you have an opinion on what the wide receiver depth chart should look during the regular season as far starters? - Billy Schmidt

As I already mentioned, I expect the top three to be Agholor, Bourne and Meyers in some order. I think Meyers has looked the best of the three during the spring, but that should be the case given his two-plus seasons in the system ahead of the two newcomers. The question will be if and where Harry fits in. He's the lone true outside option of the top four, so having him develop into a more consistent option would be a huge lift. I still feel Belichick needs to go out and find another option because the group lacks a true go-to option. I'm not sure how they will find a candidate to fill that role, but otherwise I'd expect the top three to provide the bulk of the production for the group. - Paul Perillo

I believe that Bill had limited interest in Julio Jones because he will pick up some cut player at cut down time. Do you think this is possible and are there any that stick out as of now? - Blair Boone

Lots of wide receiver questions already this week. I have to say I agree with the sentiments because I feel the team is still lacking at the position. I believe Belichick was very interested in Jones but didn't feel the salary was right and therefore wasn't able to make a move to get him. Perhaps there will be a quality option available but it's hard to bank on that. It's also hard to imagine a guy who joins the team after training camp will emerge as a top of the depth chart option. There are some free agents still looking for work like Golden Tate but again, no one who will be a true No. 1 threat. But I do expect Belichick to continue to add at the position. - Paul Perillo


Which third-year player or players do you feel will most help the Patriots have a winning season in 2021? I am rooting for both N'Keal Harry and Joejuan Williams to reach their potential and show Patriots fans how good they can be when given the opportunity. Any other players drafted in 2019 you believe can play winning Patriots football based upon your early observations and impressions? - Brett Lynch

Hey everyone, your podcasts are a saving grace and I appreciate everyone's hard work to keep us Patriots fans entertained and sane all year long. We all look forward to some big training camp battles coming soon. Praying for a few shining new stars or young players showing some development. My question is, out of two possible bust candidates in N'Keal Harry and Joejuan Williams, who do you see as the more likely player to finally get some traction and contribute this year? If neither (which is where I lean), do you have a possible dark horse breakout candidate that you could see making some sneaky contributions to the team this year? - Kolton Benish

Honestly I feel both Harry and Williams have received plenty of opportunities to show their skills and neither has been able to create a significant productive role. Of the two I could see Williams finding a spot in the secondary, especially if Stephon Gilmore winds up holding out and creating more of a need at cornerback. Williams has had chances to cover tight ends in the past and has struggled at times with that job. Perhaps some additional experience will be what he needs to prove himself further and find more playing time. I don't see much potential for Harry to do much more than he has. His big body allows him to create space at times and he makes some catches as a result. But I don't see him as a 70 or 80 catch guy, which should be expected of a player drafted in his position. Of that 2019 draft class, I see Damien Harris as the most likely to emerge in a big way in 2021. - Paul Perillo

I am a Patriots fan living in Madrid and I follow the team as best as I can from here. I do not understand all the hype about Julio Jones. It seems to me that the Patriots are in the process of rebuilding, constructing a younger and more dynamic team. They have made great strides this offseason in improving the squad on both defense and attack but it is still very much a work in progress. There are considerable uncertainties regarding the quarterback position in particular. In light of this I believe and I hope that you will agree that it is unlikely that the Patriots will be a genuine Super Bowl contender next year. If all goes right they might well get to the playoffs but not much further. Signing a 32-year-old injury-prone player, even one as great as Julio is and may still be, is a very risky move. The picks traded away would have meant that it would have been very difficult to further improve the team the following year. The signing of Julio would have been a win now move, an unlikely outcome with an undefined QB situation. - Dylan Evans

I don't necessarily agree with all of your points, especially regarding Jones, but the premise of your post I would have to say is spot on. First, the Patriots are not getting younger. They were the most active team in free agency in the league and got older as a result. Yes, that's part of the rebuilding process but that's because the roster was so barren of talent last year that Belichick had to do something drastic to alleviate that problem. And Jones isn't any injury-prone player. He's missed a total of 11 games over the last seven years, including the seven he missed in 2020. And the draft pick compensation to acquire him was minimal and would not prevent the Patriots from continuing to rebuild next year. But I do agree with your assessment of the team currently. Even with Jones, I don't see the Patriots as a true Super Bowl contender this season (unless the quarterback play suddenly improves immensely and that's asking a lot). I can see your point of view with regard to Jones – adding him would be better for a team that believes it is one player away from title contention. We'll see how it works in Tennessee, but for New England I agree with you that it wasn't the one missing piece even though I would have made the move if possible. - Paul Perillo


With Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, and (possibly?) N'Keal Harry on the 53-man roster, who else of the current, remaining wideouts do you think will make the team? - Stephen Tops

More early wide receiver talk … love it. I'd say Harry is in (assuming he's not dealt) and I'm going with Isaiah Zuber as the leader in the clubhouse at this very early stage for another spot. Belichick may stick with five as well, but with some young wideouts on the roster he may find one or more worth further development. I expect Zuber to stick around as well as Tre Nixon, at least on the practice squad. Long way to go though. - Paul Perillo

Why no love for Jakobi Meyers? The receiver discussion seems to revolve around Aghelor and Bourne when Meyers had more receptions than Agholor and very comparable numbers to Bourne while playing in a passing offense that was very suspect at best. It seems like Meyers is being pushed down the depth chart by two guys with similar stats who played in better offenses last year. I expect Meyers to progress even more this year unless his opportunities are severely reduced by the presence of Bourne and Agholor and the two new tight ends. He may not be the burner that the other two guys are but I think he is a very capable slot receiver who is due some love. - Pete Clement

I'm not sure why you think Meyers isn't getting any love because most people have him as a lock to be one of the top three options. I will say your comparisons to Bourne and Agholor based on stats in 2020 are a bit misleading however. Meyers was basically the only option in the passing game for the Patriots and received the bulk of the targets over the last 10 weeks of the season once Julian Edelman went on IR. Bourne was behind George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk in San Francisco and worked with backup quarterbacks most of the season. Agholor was also one of several options for the Raiders with Darren Waller, Hunter Renfroe and Henry Ruggs among others. But Meyers will be a big part of the passing game for the Patriots and hopefully the new guys can fit in quickly as well. Even if Meyers' numbers don't increases significantly I expect him to improve and make plays for the Patriots. - Paul Perillo


Which position group do you guys think of as one of the deepest positions on the Patriots roster? - Achal Shahi

That's a tough question. You can look at that in terms of numbers and in terms of talent. I'd say running back, defensive line and linebacker would all be candidates. Assuming you're talking about talent as well as sheer numbers, I'll go with linebacker. This also assumes Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy are a big part of that equation. Those two with Matt Judon should be solid. Add potential depth with the likes of Josh Uche, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Anfernee Jennings, Raekwon McMillan and Chase Winovich and linebackers has the potential to be the deepest area of the team. But as Belichick is fond of saying, depth in the spring doesn't always translate to depth during the season. - Paul Perillo

So we all know about that famed second-year leap and are no doubt excited to see how Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings develop but what about that famed twenty-second year leap from the head coach, what can we expect from him this year? What's his ceiling? - Brady Dickens

I'd expect exactly what we've seen from Belichick every season – a prepared, detail-oriented coach who can formulate a game plan against anyone and get his team ready to play solid fundamental football each week. I don't expect that to change anytime soon. - Paul Perillo

If Jarrett Stidham performs better than Cam Newton in preseason, will Coach really give the QB job to the winner of the competition? Newton seems to receive undue respect for past performance. Jones is the new anointed one but isn't up to speed yet. Which skills must Stidham display to get attention and the job? -David Gonsiorowski

Whether or not there is a legitimate quarterback competition is an interesting question. I didn't really feel that was the case last year when Newton got the job without ever really showing that he deserved it. My feeling is Newton will be the starter to open the season again, but at least now there's a rookie waiting in the wings for a chance to play, and at some point sooner or later he will get that chance. We just don't know if that will be here in 2021 or not. - Paul Perillo

Everyone seems to write Sony Michel as a cut candidate already considering the emergence of Damien Harris. Harris was great, but Sony looked healthy for the first time last season and looked pretty good out there. Sony worked great in a two-back system with Nick Chubb at Georgia, is that what the Patriots are banking on to keep the backs healthy? Or is Sony going to have to win the job to keep a job? - Jason Bickel

I agree with your assessment of Michel last season. I thought he did his best running as a Patriot when he returned from IR down the stretch. I think Belichick will lean toward that two-back approach, both because he feels it's best for the offense in terms of production and also to keep them both healthy. Belichick likes the committee approach and has almost always leaned that way. But I also could see Michel as a trade option given he's in the last year of his contract and the Patriots declined his fifth-year option. But that would put some extra pressure on Harris and would likely mean another option like Rhamondre Stevenson would need to emerge quickly. But whether it's Michel and Harris or Harris and someone else, I expect Belichick to use different options. - Paul Perillo

Related Content


Latest News

Presented by

Trending Video


In Case You Missed It

Presented by