On Saturday night, the Patriots agreed to a three-year deal with free-agent wide receiver Brandon LaFell, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Below is a scouting report after film study from over the weekend on LaFell.
Alignment: Though 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, LaFell often worked from the slot while with Carolina. The team ran a sufficient dose of “21” personnel, meaning there was just two wide receivers on the field. LaFell and veteran Steve Smith worked well in harmony on two-man route combinations. LaFell was not limited exclusively to the slot, though he presented a Marques Colston-like feel in the slot due to their similar size.
Strengths: LaFell has excellent size for the position and very good body control. He can torque his body to bend and make difficult catches, and has very good field awareness. He ran what looked like reliable routes in Carolina and is a pluck-and-snatch catcher, not allowing the ball to come to his body. His unique length allows him to be an effective blocker on the edge and down the field. He has enough suddenness to break off his routes against off-man coverage.
Limitations: LaFell has the size to be physically dominant, but does not play a powerful game. There were instances in the game against New England last season that he was knocked off his spot against Alfonzo Dennard, a player who is close to four inches shorter than he is. He has sufficient speed for the position, but is not a burner.
Patriots thoughts: From a pure build standpoint, LaFell has some Aaron Dobson in him. But while Dobson holds the speed and upside edge, LaFell is more sturdily built and played a different role in Carolina. Given the presence of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and even Josh Boyce, LaFell may wind up playing more of a perimeter receiving role. His size, field awareness on the sideline, and ability to use his reach to out leverage defenders make him a possibility to start at the “X” or split end position.