Pats Draft Special: Eye on WR position

In the wake of losing receiver Emmanuel Sanders to the Steelers, the Patriots’ outlook at receiver remains murky. Of the five receivers with the Patriots last season, only Julian Edelman (21 catches) is under contract for 2013.

So how will the Patriots upgrade at the position? The draft seems like their best option.

“They have to find a receiver in the draft, which they haven’t done since 2002 when they drafted Deion Branch and David Givens,” Mike Reiss said at ESPNBoston.com’s Patriots Draft Special (video above). “Their track record at the position isn’t very good. There’s no real answers out there in free agency right now. It tells us the importance at that position.”

Bill Belichick’s track record drafting receivers says it all.

2002: Deion Branch (second round) and David Givens (seventh round)

2003: Bethel Johnson (second round; traded up)

2004: P.K. Sam (fifth round)

2006: Chad Jackson (second round; traded up)

2009: Brandon Tate (third round)

2010: Taylor Price (third round)

“Based on that track record, what confidence should they have they’re going to get one?,” Reiss asked.

ESPN analyst Trevor Matich had some good news for the Patriots. He thinks receiver is one of the deepest positions in the draft. His advice for Belichick?

“What they really need is a receiver that can stretch the field,” said Matich, who added that a big play receiver would make defenses think twice about clogging the middle of the field to deal with with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.