FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots entered the 2013 NFL draft with arguably their greatest need coming at wide receiver. Considering Bill Belichick had drafted only 10 receivers in his past 13 drafts -- and three of them were seventh-rounders, with another really more of a special-teams-only player -- one of the intriguing aspects of the draft was how Belichick would approach the position. The team's lack of success in drafting and developing receivers was an additional layer to the storyline.
In selecting Texas Christian receiver Josh Boyce in the fourth round, which followed up the selection of Marshall receiver Aaron Dobson in the second round, the Patriots now have two smart, athletic options to develop at the position.
It's been a challenge for rookie receivers to break through in the team's system, but Boyce and Dobson have some of the key traits and characteristics to potentially succeed. It starts with smarts. Similar to Dobson, that's one of Boyce's biggest assets, along with his combination of height (5-11), weight (206) and speed (4.38 in the 40-yard dash). He's a versatile receiver, but projects mostly to the outside.
All that said, there is a reason that prospects slip to the fourth round, and Boyce's drops and poor production against top competition were considered knocks against him. A foot injury also could have been a factor.
Still, when it comes to Boyce, there is upside because of his combination of physical gifts and smarts, and it will be up to the coaching staff -- and coach-on-the-field Tom Brady -- to cultivate it. The Patriots' receiver position is undergoing an overhaul, and in Dobson and Boyce, the Patriots have injected two of the most athletic receivers in the draft.
Solid moves from this perspective.