The Patriots have turned over the wide receiver position this offseason, and the new group will be under the microscope during training camp. The most notable departure was, of course, Wes Welker, with Danny Amendola headlining the newcomers.
The Patriots are unique in that perhaps their two most talented offensive skill players are tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, unlike many offenses that feature a top-flight running back or receiver.
Both Gronkowski and Hernandez are recovering from offseason surgeries (with another forthcoming on Gronkowski), turning even more of our attention to the receiving corps throughout OTAs.
Amendola has impressed thus far (albeit without pads on), showing precise route-running skills and dependable hands. Because of the way the offseason unfolded, he'll likely be compared to Welker, who totaled more receptions than any other NFL receiver during the past six seasons.
According to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com's "Around the League" blog, the two are nearly equal players, as Welker checks in at 29th in his rankings of the top 40 NFL wide receivers for 2013, with Amendola just five spots behind at 34th. He adds, "If more people saw Amendola play last season, they wouldn't be asking why the New England Patriots preferred him to Welker."
The question many have asked regarding Amendola is whether or not two injuries in recent seasons add up to durability concerns or whether they've been cases of unfortunate luck. Welker's consistency each Sunday made him an invaluable piece to the Patriots offense. The Patriots will be counting on Amendola to be the same way, as there's little doubting his on-field talents.
To see Wesseling's full list, click HERE.