Moving along in our series of scouting reports on the Patriots' 2013 draft class with a look at fourth-round wide receiver Josh Boyce.
Alignment: Boyce was a versatile receiver for TCU, aligning all over the formation. He played in the slot, as a perimeter target, and ran an extensive route tree.
Build/athleticism: Strong, thick and sturdy, Boyce stands at 5-foot-11 and 206 pounds, an intriguing mix of bulk and speed. Boyce flashes electric speed, something that allowed him to work on the kickoff return team in college (he projects to return in the NFL as well). He's not an overly sudden player, but he has good quickness and agility.
Skills/traits: Boyce can line up anywhere along the formation and work into his route using a variety of skills. He isn't afraid to be physical with his hands against press coverage, can catch the ball at or near the line of scrimmage and also extend the field vertically with his speed. Boyce takes time to get up to top speed, as he can be deliberate at times in his stem. He's a reliable route runner who worked the full tree: short, underneath concepts and intermediate-to-deep routes as well. He has good hands and a sufficient catch window. As a blocker, Boyce needs to more consistently position himself to sustain contact, rather than lining players up for a single thud to knock them off their mark.
Projection: While it seems safe to project that second-round pick Aaron Dobson will work extensively (if not exclusively) from the perimeter as a Patriot, Boyce's role is more difficult to project. That's not due to a lack of skills, but rather the versatility to play from multiple alignments. Look for Boyce to work from the slot, as a "Z" receiver, and to be a player who can stretch the field for the Patriots. That's similar to the role that Julian Edelman was playing early on during the 2012 season and again before he suffered his season-ending injury. Depending on the status of Boyce's foot (which prevented him from taking part in at least the first two days of rookie minicamp), he may be ready to compete for time early on. With a made-over receiving corps, a number of spots are up for grabs. Assuming Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are healthy, they'll be the focal point of the passing game along with Danny Amendola. But complementary receivers are critical to the Patriots offense, and Boyce could compete for the No. 3 receiver job as a rookie.