COMMENTARY | The New England Patriots have turned the page to Week 2 of the NFL preseason. But before we turn our focus entirely to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, let's revisit one final aspect from last Friday's tilt versus the Philadelphia Eagles:
The wide receiving corps.
The Patriots' 90-man roster currently consists of 11 wideouts. The average age of that collection is just under 25 years old. Five of whom are rookies. And only four of whom have caught an NFL regular-season pass.
New England's wide receiver pool may not be stockpiled with name value at this point. But from a performance standpoint, there's a lot to like about the uncertain promise of youth heading into 2013.
How is the depth chart shaping up?
Here's a power ranking of the position after the Aug. 9 matchup in Philadelphia:
11. Mark Harrison -- Undrafted Rookie
A 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound Rutgers Scarlet Knight, Mark Harrison dropped jaws at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. He notched a vertical leap of 38.5 inches and a broad jump of 129 inches, and even ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash. Nevertheless, Harrison did not hear his name drafted in April. The 22-year-old failed a physical with the Chicago Bears due to a fifth metatarsal fracture in his foot suffered pre-draft. And during his time with the Patriots, Harrison has been unable to disengage himself from the physically unable to perform list. Needless to say, he manned the sidelines during the Eagles game.
10. Johnathan Haggerty -- Third NFL Season
A four-year letterman at Southwestern Oklahoma State, the 6-1, 195-pound Johnathan Haggerty has been in Patriots training camp since Aug. 1. In light of this, the 25-year-old has his work cut out for him. He has yet to play in an NFL regular-season contest, but Haggerty has spent time on injured reserve as a Cleveland Brown and as a practice-squad player for the Bears. Per Pro Football Focus' premium statistics, Haggerty played two offensive snaps and was thrown at once versus Philadelphia.
9. Quentin Sims -- Undrafted Rookie
An ultra-productive receiver at Tennessee-Martin, undrafted rookie Quentin Sims finds himself with the Patriots after a spell with the Atlanta Falcons. The 6-3, 202-pounder has done a good job getting up to speed after an unspectacular start to training camp. He was not targeted in the preseason opener and was in the offensive huddle for 11 plays.
8. Matthew Slater -- Sixth NFL Season
What you see is what you get with Matthew Slater. And that's plenty enough. The 2008 fifth-round selection has one career reception on his resume, but the two-time Pro Bowler is one of the game's best special teams players. The 6-0, 210-pound UCLA Bruin has carved himself his own category on the roster. Slater didn't play a down on offense when the Patriots traveled to Lincoln Financial Field. He did, however, get on the field as the gunner on special teams. The co-captain is a roster lock, regardless of his seating as a receiver.
7. Michael Jenkins -- 10th NFL Season
The old man of group, former Atlanta Falcon and Minnesota Viking Michael Jenkins looked like an unspectacular but dependable option early on organized team activities. But, now, it seems as though he has been surpassed by some of the young guys. And an injury suffered early on in August hasn't helped his case of making the 53-man roster. The 6-4, 215-pound 31-year-old wasn't cleared to play versus the Eagles after he missed a week of practice.
6. Kamar Aiken -- Third NFL Season
Having spent the better part of 2012 as a member of the Patriots practice squad, Kamar Aiken's system familiarity helped him flash early on in camp. The 6-2, 215-pound Central Florida Knight has been a steady contributor outside in practice. But despite all that the 24-year-old has shown, Aiken didn't see an offensive snap until the 10-minute mark in the third quarter of Friday's game. He showed up on special teams, but he is still in a logjam behind the rookies. Aiken was on the receiving end of two Tim Tebow passes, which netted him 23 yards.
5. Julian Edelman -- Fifth NFL season
Julian Edelman was removed from the physically unable to perform list early on in camp and has been playing catch-up since. Versus the Eagles, the 5-10, 198-pounder got the first crack at returning punts and fielded two for 27 yards. As a slot receiver underneath, Edelman caught three balls for 31 yards. But despite those numbers, Edelman also had a hard time holding on to the ball. He was credited for two fumbles -- neither was lost.
4. Josh Boyce -- Rookie Draft Pick
A 5-11, 205-pound fourth-round draft pick out of Texas Christian, Josh Boyce is a man of great short-area quickness and straight-line speed. To this juncture, the 22-year-old's wheels and precise route-running have given him an edge over defensive backs. With that said, Boyce had a quiet game against the Eagles. He played 32 snaps and nearly came up with a wide-open touchdown pass from quarterback from Ryan Mallett, but the ball was overthrown. While he didn't tally a catch, he got his chances. And that's a good sign for the "Z" and slot receiver. As NESN.com's Doug Kyed noted, Boyce played five snaps with the first-team offense.
3. Aaron Dobson -- Rookie Draft Pick
Rookie second-round draft pick Aaron Dobson gets the most out of his size when the ball is in the air. The "X" receiver can use his 6-3, 200-pound frame to box out. And he can use his 33-inch arms to reel in a wide radius of passes. Yet, while Dobson can make the spectacular grabs, he needs to improve when it comes to making the easy ones. Versus the Eagles, the 21-year-old dropped a pass right between his digits on a comeback route. He finished with two catches for 35 yards, but he was thrown at eight times. While Dobson did have his moments catching the ball, it's clear that he's more of a route-running project than most. Late in the fourth quarter -- long after other youngsters subbed out -- Dobson was still on the field. He needed those reps. It goes without saying that the Marshall product has a very high ceiling. It will just take some fine-tuning for him to realize it.
2. Kenbrell Thompkins -- Undrafted Rookie
Undrafted Cincinnati Bearcat Kenbrell Thompkins has made the most of every chance he's had with the Patriots. And, consequently, the 6-0, 195-pound 25-year-old looks like the most complete rookie receiver in the fold. Thompkins is a sound route-runner who knows how to separate from coverage without elite speed. Although he's not the biggest downfield threat, he will sell out for the ball, secure the catch and stay on his feet. Those traits have earned him the trust of quarterback Tom Brady. Thompkins caught all four of his preseason passes from Brady on New England's second drive versus Philadelphia. Although he only finished with 23 receiving yards in 31 snaps, it was clear that he was a go-to man for No. 12.
1. Danny Amendola -- Sixth NFL Season
It will take far more than one preseason game for Danny Amendola to be knocked down the Patriots' wide receiver rankings. The 5-11, 195-pound Texas Tech alum snagged just one pass for six yards against the Eagles. Yet, along with Dobson, the 27-year-old Amendola was in the first wideout pairing for New England. Once Brady departed, Amendola did as well. That says a lot about how highly Amendola is regarded by the coaching staff. Based on his rapport with Brady and what he has showcased over his NFL career, the former undrafted free agent figures to be a key cog moving forward.
Oliver Thomas is a Yahoo! contributor who also covers the NFL and the New England Patriots for NEPatriotsDraft.com. His work has been featured on BleacherReport.com, USAToday.com, Patriots.com, Boston.com and NESN.com.
You can follow Oliver on Twitter @OliverBThomas.
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