2017 Patriots Training Camp Position Battles: 3rd Wide Receiver

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11: Wide receiver Chris Hogan
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11: Wide receiver Chris Hogan /

The New England Patriots are loaded at wide receiver, but who is going to earn that extra playing time as the No. 3 option?

Newcomer Brandin Cooks and Julian Edelman will be the No. 1 and No. 1 wide receivers for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots this season. After that, the team has to sort through their options with Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, and Malcolm Mitchell.

All three of those players will make the team, but how they’ll be used and who gets the most playing time is still up for debate. Training camp and some action in preseason games will go a long way towards helping Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick set the depth chart.

This is my first of five posts focusing on key New England Patriots training camp battles. Here I cover the No. 3 wide receiver slot and subsequent posts will cover the No. 3 cornerback, running backs, defensive end, and outside linebackers.

Below, I’ll make a case for each player before giving my thoughts on who I think will win the job.

Chris Hogan

2016 Regular Season: 15 Games, 58 Targets, 38 Receptions, 680 Yards, 4 Touchdowns

In the regular season, Chris Hogan was solid, but not quite a star. He made the catches he was supposed to and did have some big plays, but there were times I wish he had been even more involved in the offense. Hogan has the ability to stretch the field, and that would be helpful alongside Brandin Cooks, but I’m not sure he’s the perfect compliment to him and Edelman. That said, he is the consensus favorite heading into camp.

2016 Playoffs: 3 Games, 23 Targets, 17 Receptions, 332 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

Hogan was the star of the show against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, where the bulk of his playoff numbers came from. Brady clearly trusts Hogan as an option and was able to find ways to get Hogan into playmaking situations.

In 2017, Chris Hogan will surely be a part of the New England Patriots offense, I’m just not sold that it’ll be as the No. 3 option.

Malcolm Mitchell

2016 Regular Season: 14 Games, 48 Targets, 32 Receptions, 401 Yards, 4 Touchdowns

As a rookie Malcolm Mitchell took some time to get comfortable with Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. I believe he got better with each passing week. Though he’s just 5’11, Mitchell seems to play like a larger wideout. He showed that he can stretch the field and was a true weapon in New England. His modest 2016 numbers should see a fair increase this season.

2016 Playoffs: 2 Games, 11 Targets, 7 Receptions, 75 Yards

Mitchell only got the call in two of the three New England playoff games last season, but he made the most of his opportunities, averaging 5.5 targets and 3.5 receptions per game. He made the plays he was asked to make, and that’s all you could have hoped for from a rookie on the biggest stage in sports.

Danny Amendola

2016 Regular Season: 12 Games, 29 Targets, 23 Receptions, 243 Yards, 4 Touchdowns

Danny Amendola continues to sacrifice to better the New England Patriots. It’s clear he’d like to finish his career here as he once again restructured his contract. Amendola doesn’t play quite as much as he used to, but he makes plays when he is called upon.

2016 Playoffs: 3 Games, 15 Targets, 10 Receptions, 90 Yards, 1 Touchdown

In the playoffs, Amendola is old Mr. Reliable. You always know that Danny will be in the correct spot on time for TB12. Time after time he has re-proven himself in the playoffs, showing us all why he continues to stick around in New England.

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My pick for the No.3 wide receiver

Heading into camp, I’m giving the edge to second-year player Malcolm Mitchell. His style of play and ability to stretch the field is going to mesh so well with the play of Brandin Cooks and Julian Edelman.

I certainly believe Chris Hogan will be right behind Mitchell in terms of snaps from week to week, while Amendola will likely remain in the same type of role he played last season. I’m sure plenty of you will think I’m crazy for giving Mitchell the edge, so I’m interested to hear all of your thoughts. Please comment below or tweet at me!

Next: Predicting the Patriots 53-man Week 1 roster

It’s my belief that this  New England Patriots offense has the chance to become one of the best in NFL history, and Mitchell is the right choice for this role to help get them there. In fact, I also ranked Mitchell ahead of Hogan and Amendola on my list of the 50 most important Patriots players and coaches in 2017. His big body mentality will be huge against teams that focus solely on Cooks and Jules. Expect Malcolm Mitchell to break out for a few two score games in 2017.