Patriots made a mistake drafting Aaron Dobson that high
The New England Patriots always put a great roster on the field year in and year out, but they’re really bad at drafting wide receivers. You’d be surprised that a NFC general manager said “Even Belichick would admit they’ve been terrible.” at scouting college level wide receiver talent, and Aaron Dobson as a second-round pick confirms a fact that Patriot fans already know. It’s not that Dobson is a terrible wide receiver prospect, but he’s a project wide receiver. However, Dobson is the cruelest kind of project wide receiver, because you see glimpses of his true potential. He is one of those players every draft season that you watch highlights of on YouTube, and say let’s get that guy he’s amazing. Just look at this tape of Dobson below.
However, when he shows up to camp and puts on the pads, that highlight reel doesn’t show up as much as you thought it would, and here’s why. For all of the ridiculous highlight catches Dobson makes on tape, he’s still a very raw prospect. One of the main issues with Dobson I’ve seen on tape is he’s a 6’3 210 pound receiver that plays like he’s slot receiver. He will attempt to do cutbacks or reversals like a slot receiver, but he doesn’t have nearly as much speed or change of direction skills to pull the play off. I have also rarely seen him use his size advantage to bully defensive backs with punches and rips like he should and instead tries to out quick his opponents. My theory is that Dobson was a slot receiver when he started at Marshall, but had a big growth spurt and never adjusted his game to his skill set.
Dobson plays the game in a manner that doesn’t maximize his ability and true skill set. That’s a problem, because it takes ten times longer to unlearn bad technique versus learning the right technique to begin with. That’s why Dobson as a second-round pick in a wide receiver deep class doesn’t make sense. Dobson could eventually become a very good wide receiver, but he’ll take a few years through development to reach his full potential. This causes frustration though, because the Pats needed an immediate impact rookie wide receiver that can adjust quickly to the Pro game.
That’s why Dobson just doesn’t make sense, because the Patriots haven’t proved they can develop wide receivers in the first place. How many wide receivers have the Patriots drafted and developed under the Belichick Era that have turned into long-term contributors? Taylor Price, Brandon Tate or Chad Jackson? No, the only wide receiver that had a major impact that was drafted under Belichick was Deion Branch and the second he was developed, he was shipped off to the Seattle Seahawks. The Pats took Dobson over Markus Wheaton, Terrance Williams, Keenan Allen and even Stedman Bailey. Why can’t the Patriots draft polished or near polished wide receivers out of college?
Now, there will be Pats fans that will read this post and bring up Belichick’s pedigree as a head coach in terms of wins. Yes, Belichick knows how to draft linebackers, but he doesn’t know how to draft secondary players. Belichick knows how to draft offensive linemen, but he hasn’t had nearly as much success drafting defensive linemen as you might think. Ron Brace anyone? He’s not perfect, and I’m not a perfect evaluator either, but you need to temper your expectations about Aaron Dobson. I hope Dobson has rare initial success as a rookie wide receiver, because the Pats need it. However, I haven’t seen enough out of Dobson at Marshall in 2012 to say he’ll be the white knight, that this Patriot wide receiver core so desperately needed him to be.
James Cobern is a Division Leader for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com or follow him on Twitter @Jmcobern1