Patriots have lots of options at wide receiver

Christian Petersen

The waiting line to play wide receiver in New England is out of the door and down a couple blocks. Who are the legitimate options to see significant time in the Patriots' offense?

The New England Patriots signed Lavelle Hawkins on Thursday, adding yet another wideout to the already lengthy list currently on the roster. Out of all the receivers in the mix, though, Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson appear to be the only locks to make the team, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.

Amendola, the heir apparent to Wes Welker, is expected to be heavily involved in the passing game with Tom Brady. Filling the Z receiver role in Bill Belichick's offense, Amendola fits the his new role perfectly and will be a major contributor if he stays healthy. There's obviously no concern about him making the team.

Dobson is projected as the starting X receiver in 2013, taking over for the departed Brandon Lloyd. A second-round pick in this year's draft, multiple sources around the Patriots camp continue to rave about the rookie's athleticism and potential. Lloyd saw 130 targets from Brady last season. Dobson will be busy in his first season.

Past these two, who will stick around?

Julian Edelman recently suffered a setback with his broken right foot, which now puts his minicamp status in jeopardy. With Amendola holding down the slot and health issues lingering, Edelman's status is up in the air right now.

Michael Jenkins turns 31 in June and doesn't have much left in the receiving tank. He's a decent blocker, but the Patriots aren't going to expect him to create much space against any defender. His time with the Vikings was tough to watch towards the end. Jenkins also signed a one-year deal with no guaranteed money or signing bonus. Not too promising.

Donald Jones signed a three-year contract, also with no guaranteed money, in March. He missed 12 games over the last two season, struggling with injury issues off and on. Jones has 82 catches in three seasons. He's young and can be a decent role player, but he's far from a lock to make the team.

Beyond this group, the Patriots have Josh Boyce, Kamar Aiken, Matthew Slater and now Hawkins legitimately vying for a spot. Slater's special teams skills should earn him a job. Boyce isn't participating in rookie camp due to a broken bone in his foot. Aiken wouldn't be much more than a special teamer. Is Hawkins an answer?

In Tennessee, Hawkins barely made an impact through five seasons. He has 71 receptions to show from his tenure. He looks more intriguing than Jenkins, but Jones has him beat.

Health will be the deciding factor for the majority of these battles. If Edelman avoids any other issues with his foot, his history with the Patriots should keep him around. Jones and Slater may be next in line. The race is up in the air, though. Amendola and Dobson are safe. That's the extent of the current regular-season depth chart.

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