New England Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson just couldn't seem to stay healthy his first two seasons in the league. As a rookie in 2013, Dobson got better through the first nine weeks of the season, culminating with five catches, 130 yards and two touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Just when he was catching his stride, he broke his foot two games later, causing him to miss three games and severely limiting his production the rest of the season.
Dobson's 37 receptions, 519 yards and four touchdowns in only nine starts that first year was pretty damn impressive considering how hard it is for rookie wide receivers to excel, especially in the Patriots' offense. There was reason to believe that if he got himself in shape and stayed healthy during the season that Dobson would've taken off in his second year. Unfortunately, the injury bug continued to plague him during his sophomore campaign. He played in four games, with only one start, and made just three catches. He was finally put out of his misery and placed on IR after pulling his hamstring in Week 13, capping off an underwhelming second season.
I went back and watched his 2013 film again, and there's still a lot to be excited about with this kid. Watch him running short crossing routes; he looks so quick in space that you forget Dobson is all of 6'3 and 205 pounds. And then you see him take someone deep and "Moss" them, or at least be in position to "Moss" them.
Dobson and Tom Brady weren't on the same page often when it came to the deep ball in 2013. Many times Brady seemed to misjudge Dobson's speed and under-threw him after he broke free downfield, allowing the cornerback to recover and make a play on the ball. After having been around Dobson for going on three years, I'd guess that Brady has a better idea of just how fast he is. That should result in a lot of big plays downfield between the two of them in 2015 ... if Dobson stays healthy.
I know that Dobson may be an afterthought for some Patriots fans after a disappointing 2014 season where the team still found a way to win the Super Bowl, but I wouldn't write his career obituary just yet. If you look at the Patriots' roster, they are still in need of a reliable deep threat. It just so happens that when he's healthy, Dobson still has the potential to be that guy for them.
Three years in is about the time when the light starts to come on for most young players. I would also expect Dobson to be much-better prepared physically for this season than he had been the previous two. He knows this is nut-cutting time. In order for him to stick around he will have not only be consistently good but also be available. I think he will be, and I think his numbers are about to go through the roof this season.