Heading into OTAs, the Patriots appear to have an excess of talent at the wide receiver position. While the true elite threat fans have been clamoring for may not be on the roster, the NFL talent is deep. DeVante Parker and second-round pick Tyquan Thornton join the returning group of Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Jakobi Meyers.
With those five players, the usage and snap distribution is a big question. Given how the team traditionally uses its wideouts, there will likely be an ‘odd man out’ in the wide receiver room this year pending any injuries.
Given his 2021 production, the fact that he is in the final year of his contract, and similar play style to Thornton, many have pointed to Agholor as that potential odd man out. Speaking with Patriots media on Tuesday, Agholor was asked if that’s a narrative he pays attention to.
“I don’t focus on that. I’m here for a reason,” Agholor said. “I love the opportunity that’s given to me to be a Patriot, to work hard.”
As for the specific additions of the two ‘X’ receivers to the roster, Agholor sees it as not only part of the business side of pro football, but an opportunity to improve his own game as well.
“This is the NFL. Every year there’s somebody good in front you and behind you. So, the job is to compete. That’s what you do. You compete. You compete, then things are put into play. I’m in a good place because I have no problem with that. I compete. And I’m going to compete for my best foot forward and show my value that’s it,” he explained. “Every year you’ve got to draft somebody and every year you got to try to make your team the best we can. And I think we did that with both those guys. They’re super talented players, and I think their ability will only allow me to get better by competing with their ability. I think they’re quality players that will help my game rise to a certain standard. So I’m excited about that.”
Agholor also said he sees the potential in his second year in New England, due to the familiarity. “The best part about it is in Year 2 in the Patriots’ system is when guys really get going,” he said. “I feel comfortable and I’m excited to have my best season with the Patriots and show why I’m here.”
“For me, it’s familiarity first with the concepts, familiarity with how we do things,” he expanded. “I know the routes – because the route the route tree is unique. It’s not, I mean – everybody runs certain routes but the route tree is a little different than where I ran before and now I know it. So I get to put my own spin on how we do things and play fast. So I’m just growing practicing, putting stuff on tape and being comfortable with it, putting my own flavor on what I put on tape. Whereas a year ago, I was learning. So you do things at a certain like learning tempo. You never get to just go full speed because you want to make sure you’re doing it right. So you kind of move with caution. Now I know what it looks like and I get to just put my flavor on it. So that’s a cool part about a Year 2. You’ve done it, you’ve had a year of tape of it. Now you self-study and you go, you just play fast.”
Overall, it’s reasonable to think there would be pressure on Agholor heading into the 2022 season. Not only is he entering a contract year, but he’s coming off a significant production drop-off in 2021. Yet the 28 year old wideout has a positive mindset with spring workouts around the corner.
“I’m in a happy, really happy place and super excited about, the work that’s coming from being at a happy place and the growth that’s coming from it,” Agholor said, “So my motivation is to make it a memorable season with this team and the guys that I play alongside with and let it be something special.”
Agholor and his teammates will take the field for their first OTA practice on May 23, the day before his 29th birthday. Spring practices run through June 17, with Mandatory Minicamp set for June 7-9.