Wide receiver is suddenly a position of strength for Tom Brady and the Patriots

New England Patriots

The Patriots will miss Rob Gronkowski this season, but Tom Brady suddenly finds himself with an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position. 

Tom Brady is the sort of quarterback who doesn’t need weapons to carve up opposing NFL defenses. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, New England suddenly has one of the most intriguing wide receiver groups in the league.

Admittedly, the Patriots need their wideouts to step up after the sudden retirement of future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski. When the preseason kicked off, it looked as if Bill Belichick might have to conjure up some schematic manage to paper over his absence. Then, Josh Gordon was reinstated by the NFL and everything changed for the Patriots.

Gordon made his first appearance at practice this season for the Patriots on Sunday. Assuming he is fully healthy (both mentally and physically) he will slot in immediately as Brady’s No. 1 wide receiver. His rare combination of size and electric speed allow him to strike fear in the hearts of opposing defensive backs. That’s something Brady has never really had at his disposal during his distinguished career.

One seriously underrated aspect of getting Gordon back onto the field is how it will allow Julian Edelman to move back into his proper role. The former Kent State quarterback has the ability to carry the New England offense for brief stretches of time, but his lack of size and speed make him better suited to be a No. 2 target. Gordon’s ability to draw double coverage will give Edelman a lot more opportunities to work against single coverage.

After that, things get a bit less reliable for Brady and the Patriots coaching staff, but there are some high ceiling options that could make this a special group. Demaryius Thomas joined the team’s preseason activities on the same day as Gordon. If he can prove his health to Belichick and the coaching staff, he should be in like for a lot of targets as well. Thomas is a serious deep threat due to his height and catch radius. His long arms will give Brady a lot of chances to throw him open on intermediate and deep routes.

The final piece of the potential puzzle is first round pick N’Keal Harry. He’s been up and down during the preseason, but he’s another guy who could emerge as a big-bodied target for Brady. He might be the perfect guy to help fill the void left by Gronkowski’s retirement. Harry could see a lot of work down the seam if he can earn Brady’s trust as the season progresses.

Next: 5 bold predictions for the Patriots in 2019

Add it all up and it’s really bad news for teams hoping that 2019 will be the year when the Patriots finally fall out of Super Bowl contention. This should be a year where Brady can spread the ball around to more talented targets than ever before. That’s a nightmare scenario for defenses tasked with slowing he and the Patriots offense down.

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