New England ‘Redshirted’ Next Slot Option As Rookie

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but a New England Patriots rookie missed the 2018 season due to injury.

Wide receiver Braxton Berrios was placed on injured reserve during final roster cuts and didn’t play a single snap as a rookie. Six of the Patriots’ nine 2018 draft picks didn’t suit up as rookies.

Berrios got out to a slow start with the Patriots when he was limited in organized team activities and minicamp in the spring. His injuries lingered into the summer, and he played in just one preseason game, catching one pass for 3 yards. Though it didn’t seem Berrios suffered a season-ending injury during the summer, the Patriots still chose to essentially redshirt him as a rookie by placing him on injured reserve.

Berrios originally came to the Patriots as a sixth-round pick out of Miami. At 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, Berrios looks like a prototypical Patriots slot receiver in the mold of Wes Welker or Danny Amendola.

He has the athleticism for the role, as well. He ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash with a 1.58-second 10-yard split, 6.72-second 3-cone drill, 4.18-second short shuttle, 36-inch vertical leap and 9-foot, 2-inch broad jump at his pro day last March. He wasn’t ultra-productive in college but caught 55 passes for 679 yards with nine touchdowns as a senior and 100 passes for 1,175 yards with 14 touchdowns in four seasons. He also returned 47 punts for 488 yards with a touchdown in his college career.

Berrios spent 97.3 percent of snaps in the slot during his college career, so he’s probably limited to playing inside in the pros, as well.

Despite his promise, Berrios isn’t guaranteed a spot on the Patriots’ 2019 roster. The Patriots currently have just five wide receivers on their roster in Berrios, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater, Darren Andrews and Damoun Patterson. Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Hogan, Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett are free agents.

The Patriots are certain to add plenty of competition to their wide receiving corps this offseason after they were shallow at the position to start the 2018 season. There are multiple attractive slot options, like Adam Humphries, Cole Beasley, Golden Tate and Jamison Crowder, available in free agency.

For Berrios to make the Patriots in his second season, he has to enter the spring in full health. He had a year to study the Patriots’ playbook, so despite missing his rookie season, he’s still a step ahead going into Year 2.

With expectations now tempered, Berrios has a chance to catch some folks by surprise in 2019. The Patriots need a slot receiver of the future, and Berrios could still be that player. He’ll have to fight for the role, however.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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