Patriots Predicted to Add 2-Time Champion Who ‘Wowed’ at Combine

Potential Patriots receiver target Ladd McConkey of Georgia

Getty Potential Patriots receiver target Ladd McConkey of Georgia

It would be a disappointment if the Patriots exited the upcoming NFL free-agency period without coming away with a potential No. 1 receiver to add to the very barren cupboard of playmakers on the roster. Tee Higgins, Calvin Ridley, Keenan Allen–somebody who could be the clear leader of the Patriots receiver room. Even if the Patriots find a top-line wideout, though, expect them to target receivers in the draft, too.

And at the analysis site The 33rd Team, they’re predicting the Patriots will land a good one with their second-round pick, which comes in at No. 34 overall: Georgia’s Ladd McConkey.

McConkey is a 6-foot, 185-pounder who starred for three seasons at Georgia, and helped the Bulldogs to two consecutive national championships. He had one of the best games of his career in the 2022 national championship against TCU, catching two touchdowns to help fuel a blowout win. He struggled last year with a recurring ankle injury, but has established himself as enough of a prospect to warrant consideration in the late first round or early second.

Patriots Receiver History Evokes McConkey’s Game

Because of his lack of size and strength, McConkey figures to fit into a slot role rather than a wideout role, but he has earned a reputation for being as efficient a route-runner and pass-catcher as there is in this draft.

We don’t know yet how much new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will lean on the his slot receiver, but McConkey evokes past classic Patriots underneath targets like Troy Brown, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman.

As wrote in its scouting report: If pass rushers have rush plans, McConkey has route plans that allow him to uncover on all three levels. His pace and rhythm make cornerbacks more reactive than proactive. He has the footwork and body control to snap off crisp breaks and open windows for his quarterback. He can manipulate coverage with an advanced feel for leverage and has enough top-end speed to get past cornerbacks who are non-believers.”

At USA Today’s Draft Wire, it was noted that McConkey, “wowed in Indianapolis with a 4.39 official 40-yard dash time that tied for the sixth-best time among all receiver prospects, bringing attention to his breakaway speed.”

Plenty of WR decisions to Come in New England

It’s likely the Patriots will use multiple picks on receivers in this draft. Of course, they could simply use the No. 3 pick to draft Marvin Harrison Jr., though the expectation is that if the Patriots stay at No. 3, it will be for a quarterback.

New England could trade down and add more picks, and perhaps take one of the potential record number of first-round receivers on the board in addition to Harrison: Rome Odunze, Malik Nabers, Brian Thomas Jr., Adonai Mitchell, Xavier Worthy, Tony Franklin. Either way, the Patriots need to come away with receivers who can produce, and quickly.

The numbers on the Patriots receivers were pretty terrible.

Kendrick Bourne is probably their best wide receiver, but he is a No. 2/3 on a decent team, and he is a free agent. They have two more years of JuJu Schuster-Smith (they can wriggle out of his contract in 2025), who likely is playing on one knee, and two more years of 30-year-old DeVante Parker, who can’t stay healthy and has not been all that good when he has.

Rookie sixth-round pick Demario Douglas was promising last year, and figures to have a more prominent role. But he is a 5-foot-8 slot guy.

Receiver is a need. McConkey is not the deep threat the Pats would like, but he could be productive, and they’ll take as many of those as they can get.


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