NFL Draft 2024: 10 potential Patriots WR draft picks

Welcome to Potential Patriots!

Each day leading up to the NFL Draft on April 25, the Herald will introduce prospects the Patriots are likely targeting position by position. The Pats have eight picks this year, starting at No. 3 overall, their highest selection in decades. As for their other picks, the Patriots are expected to address offensive tackle and wide receiver, though they could pad their depth at virtually any position.

Below is a breakdown of the Patriots’ best prospect fits at wide receiver:

Day 1-2

Adonai Mitchell, Texas

Ht/Wt: 6-2, 205

Projected round: 1st-2nd

Scouting report: The Patriots may need to trade back into the late first round to nab Mitchell, one of the most physically gifted receivers in the draft.

He’s an explosive, long-limbed athlete who clocked a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash, leapt almost 40 inches in the vertical jump and flashed these elite traits on tape. Mitchell scored a Big 12-best 11 touchdowns, breezing through secondaries and dunking on opposing cornerbacks in jump-ball situations. His potential as a game-changing “X” receiver may only be matched by the receivers projected to go top 10 10 the draft.

Ladd McConkey, Georgia

Ht/Wt: 6-0, 186

Projected round: 1st-2nd

Scouting report: Like Mitchell, McConkey is a candidate to go late in the first round. Unlike Mitchell, he’s almost universally regarded as a can’t-miss prospect.

He’s a complete receiver with plus long speed and agility, both of which he maximizes through superb route-running. McConkey can play in the slot and outside and would be a candidate to start Day 1 in New England.

Ricky Pearsall, Florida

Ht/Wt: 6-1, 191

Projected round: 2nd

Scouting report: Pearsall is one of the most natural pass-catchers in this draft, boasting reliable hands and remarkable body control. He runs a 4.4 and led the Gators in receiving yards each of the past two seasons, proving he can carry the load of a No. 1 option in the SEC. He was also a regular on special teams as a coverage player and punt returner.

NFL Notes: 16 non-QB prospects the Patriots should love in the NFL Draft

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Keon Coleman, Florida State

Ht/Wt: 6-3, 213

Projected round: 2nd

Scouting report: Another big-bodied “X” receiver, Coleman plays faster than his timed 4.61 speed and knows how to win in 1-on-1 situations. He’s strong and dynamic, with several one-handed catches on his tape. The 20-year-old feels more like a project than others on this list, but the payoff could be huge for a Patriots team that could give him time to grow and desperately needs a difference-maker.

Troy Franklin, Oregon

Ht/Wt: 6-2, 176

Projected round: 2nd

Scouting report: Franklin is one of the most dangerous and productive skill-position prospects in this draft, a big-play machine who dominated on downfield routes. He’s a speedster (4.41) with above-average quickness (6.9 in the three-cone) and a slender frame. If Franklin can bulk up and trim his drops, a 1,300-yard campaign like the one he posted last year at Oregon is not out of the question in the NFL.

Xavier Legette, South Carolina

Ht/Wt: 6-1, 221

Projected round: 2nd-3rd

FILE - South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette (17) looks for his teammates after a 65-yard touchdown reception during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Jacksonville State on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina's best playmakers on offense the past two years are all gone, meaning this spring is a search for consistency and production from an attack that had its struggles last season. With Spencer Rattler and Legette awaiting NFL draft picks Legette a likely first-rounder, Rattler a mid-round choice it's up to inexperienced newcomers and transfers to push the Gamecocks forward. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr., File)
FILE – South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette (17) looks for his teammates after a 65-yard touchdown reception during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Jacksonville State on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina's best playmakers on offense the past two years are all gone, meaning this spring is a search for consistency and production from an attack that had its struggles last season. With Spencer Rattler and Legette awaiting NFL draft picks — Legette a likely first-rounder, Rattler a mid-round choice — it's up to inexperienced newcomers and transfers to push the Gamecocks forward. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr., File)

Scouting report: If the Patriots want a yards-after-catch monster, Legette will be high on their board.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a late career breakout, catching 71 catches for 1,255 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He’s a muscular target who breaks tackles and accelerates well before ripping into his 4.39 speed. Legette will be an immediate threat on gadget plays and kick returns. He could develop into a well-rounded receiver in the right offense.

Brenden Rice, USC

Ht/Wt: 6-2, 208

Projected round: 3rd-4th

Scouting report: The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, this 22-year-old is a bigger outside receiver who does his best work over the middle. Rice became the go-to end-zone target of projected No. 1 overall pick Caleb Willliams, with a dozen touchdowns last year. Rice improved every season in college, and his best football may be ahead of him, if he improves his separation skills early in routes.

Day 3

Javon Baker, UCF

Ht/Wt: 6-1, 202

Projected round: 3rd-4th

Central Florida wide receiver Javon Baker (1) breaks away from Baylor cornerback Tevin Williams III, left, after catching a pass during the second half of an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Central Florida wide receiver Javon Baker (1) breaks away from Baylor cornerback Tevin Williams III, left, after catching a pass during the second half of an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Scouting report: Baker exploded last season for 1,139 yards and seven touchdowns, working as a deep threat and yards-after-catch threat. He averaged 21.9 yards per reception, second-highest in FBS, while he aligned all across the formation. Baker is a bit raw, but his ball skills and upside are enough to bet on at this stage of the draft.

Luke McCaffrey, Rice

Ht/Wt: 6-2, 198

Projected round: 5th-6th

Scouting report: A converted quarterback, McCaffrey plays with elite quickness and good speed, particularly for his body type. He embraces the physical side of the game, a small reason he racked up 992 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns last year despite seeing extra defensive attention. McCaffrey also earned the respect of his teammates as a senior captain and was voted team MVP.

The combination of those intangibles, his size, NFL pedigree (he is the son of former Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey) and untapped positional potential make him an intriguing Day 3 option.

Bub Means, Pittsburgh

Ht/Wt: 6-1, 212

Projected round: 6th-7th

Scouting report: Means has the strongest Patriots connection of any wideout in this class, having played under new assistant receivers coach Tiquan Underwood last year at Pittsburgh. Underwood clocked an impressive 4.43 at the combine, underscoring he’s a traits prospect with strong speed and strength. He fits the type of outside receiver the Patriots need, and may have had his production depressed by playing for three different schools and four different offensive coordinators in five seasons.

Means led the Panthers with 772 receiving yards and six touchdowns last year.

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