The New England Patriots spent a lot of money on weapons in the passing game this past offseason with the free-agent signings of Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor and Jonnu Smith. Chances are, they won’t go on a similar spending spree this spring.
However, there is one serious wide receiver target who could change the Patriots’ passing game giving Mac Jones the sort of downfield threat and red zone target he didn’t have in his rookie season.
On a recent episode of Heavy presents…I’m Just Saying, Heavy.com’s Paul Esden Jr. called Los Angeles Chargers free-agent WR Mike Williams Mac Jones’ potential “new best friend.”
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The Patriots Need to Find Mac Jones a ‘New Best Friend’
“I’m sick and tired of looking at the New England Patriots wide receivers with all these random go-go gadget toys like Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor,” Esden said. “It is time to get a guy that can give Mac Jones a big boy!”
The “big boy” the Patriots have on their roster at wide receiver is the 6’3″ 225-pound N’Keal Harry. Aside from the occasional splash, Harry has been a massive disappointment since the team took him in the first round with the 32nd overall pick back in 2019. Harry had just 12 receptions for 184 yards in 2021 as injuries (he missed 5 games) and lackluster play continued to keep him from reaching his potential.
In three seasons, Harry has amassed modest totals of 57 receptions for 598 yards and just 4 TDs in his career. Which man can the Patriots find in free agency who can give them what Harry has failed to provide?
“That boy, no man, is part of that 6-foot-5 body is none other than Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers,” Esden claims. “That wingspan, a LeBron-James-type wingspan, would be helpful. I know Mac Jones is accurate, but if he ever isn’t, it won’t matter. Just throw it in the general direction of Williams and he’ll come down with it. He has some Larry Fitzgerald to his game in that respect, just throw it up there and he’ll find a way to come down with it.”
Mike Williams Has a Valuable Skill Set
It is hard find a receiver with Williams’ downfield skill set. Coming out of Clemson, Williams’ scouting report from Pro Football Focus mentioned these positives in a bullet-pointed breakdown of his strengths:
- Dominates at the catch point, uses his giant frame to tower over defensive backs
- Huge catch radius and wing span facilitate spectacular grabs
- Deep threat, uses his size to box out defensive backs
- Tracks the ball exceptionally downfield, a constant threat on fades and back-shoulder throws
Harry was expected to be this kind of player too, but he hasn’t panned out. Williams on the other hand, has been borderline spectacular. The 27-year-old is coming off a breakout season in 2021. Williams collected a career-high 76 catches and 1,146 receiving yards. He also had 9 TD receptions. He would instantly become the Patriots’ top pass-catching option.
What kind of impact will that have on New England’s overall attack?
“The other thing is the ripple effects that could have on the rest of the Patriots offense,” Esden responds. “Williams had a slow start to his career as a former top-10 pick with the injuries, but once he got halfway decent quarterback play we saw what he can be in the NFL. This is going to make life a lot easier having this man on offense. I think Mac Jones has a new best friend in Mike Williams.”
Even if the Patriots don’t make any other significant additions to their offense through free agency, they would be a far more dangerous team with the ball if Williams was in the lineup.
His ability to command safety help over the top would open up a ton of opportunities in the intermediate range where Jones is seemingly more comfortable throwing the ball.
We’ll see if the Patriots have the same level of interest Esden suggests the team should have in Williams.
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