Potential Patriots: 5 wide receivers to keep an eye on in NFL draft

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The NFL draft is quickly approaching and the Patriots have 12 overall picks, including six in the top 101. Given their lack of moves during free agency, the team should be very active. This will be a series broken down by position of players who could be of interest to the team. Today, we look at the wide receivers. Here’s earlier editions of the series.

Looking at the Patriots wide receiving depth chart, it’s pretty clear this will be a priority in the draft. Not only from a numbers standpoint, but the fact the position needs to get significantly younger. Bill Belichick hasn’t had a great deal of success with drafting receivers, but perhaps this is the year that breaks the trend.

Here are five names to keep an eye on.

N’Keal Harry, Arizona State- Standing 6-foot-2, Harry is a physically imposing wide receiver who can fight for the ball. He put together a solid career in the Pac-12 and one of his most underrated attributes is his run-blocking ability. The Patriots reportedly have a meeting scheduled as well. Harry will most likely be a Day 2 selection.

A.J. Brown- Mississippi- Brown is another player who reportedly has a meeting scheduled with the Patriots, which could mean something or nothing at all. He was drafted by the Padres in the 2016 MLB draft, so he’s clearly an athlete. The 6-foot wide out has good hands, but the one knock on his game is his speed translating to the NFL. Still, he’s expected to go early in the draft.

Deebo Samuel, South Carolina- The South Carolina product may be the receiver who has been connected to the Patriots the most. Samuel has a lot of traits the Patriots value in their wide outs — experience in the slot and also very quick in and out of breaks. Samuel also has had a lot of success in the return game, which could be something the Patriots will be looking for. It’s likely he hears his name called on Day 2.

Andy Isabella, UMass- Isabella is quickly rising draft boards as on top of putting up monster numbers at UMass the last two seasons, he also tested very well at the combine. He’s been working with Randy Moss to make himself a receiver who can play both inside and outside and that is something NFL teams will love. A few months ago he was considered a mid-to-late round pick, but now he could potentially have his name called on Day 2.

Diontae Johnson, Toledo- Johnson is definitely a late-round selection, but could be worth a flier pick. Nick Caserio was at Toledo’s pro day, so he got an up close look at the 5-foot-11 receiver. It’s also worth noting Johnson has experience as a punt returner, which again could be something the Patriots like a lot.