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The Patriots predictively have been slow out of the gate in the free agent market. The Pats have resigned LaAdrian Waddle and Nate Ebner as well as bringing in Ramon Humber a linebacker with lots of special teams experience. The Patriots made a minor splash by signing former Bills wideout Chris Hogan to an offer sheet on Friday paying him $12 million over three years. The Bills who are cap strapped quickly declined to match the salary and Hogan became a Patriot.
This signing has been met with mixed reviews and many have said that he is just a slot receiver. The problem is Hogan does a lot more than just play the slot. He is not Wes Welker 2.0 and while his signing may pave the way for Danny Amendola to depart, he is in no shape or form the same style of player that Amendola is. Just because he is a white wideout, doesn’t mean he cants help on the outside.
In tape review of Hogan, I have come to the realization that he is more, David Givens or Brandon LaFell than Julian Edelman. While Hogan possesses quickness in and out of cuts and can line up in the slot, he does have the physical size and speed to be an outside the numbers player for the Patriots. At 6’1″ and 220 lbs, coming out of college Hogan ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, with 28 reps on the bench at 225 lbs and an all important 6.75-second three-cone drill. He shows the speed and cutting ability to be a slot receiver but the size and strength to play outside. Comparing Hogan to LaFell in combine stats, show LaFell being 6’2″ and 215 lbs. He ran a 4.54 40-yard dash and a 6.81 three-cone drill. He only had 11 reps on the 225 lbs bench press. David Givens coming out of college was 6’1″ and 217 lbs. He ran a 4.56 40-yard dash, with a 6.82 three-cone drill. He put up 16 reps in the bench press. While the underwear Olympics are not the end all be all in football the numbers show very similar players.
Like Givens and LaFell before him, Hogan will line up mostly in the X receiver role but he will also be asked to play inside in the slot. He has the mental makeup to learn the playbook as it has been reported that he watched game film with coach Bill Belichick during his visit. Hogan’s former coach Doug Marrone says that Hogan has a high football IQ. This should help Hogan avoid the pitfalls of other free agent signees such as Donald Hayes, Joey Galloway and Chad Ocho Cinco.
Hogan has an ability to get open deeper down the field. He is not a deep threat but he will be able to get open 15-20 yards down the field.
Here we see Hogan line up outside at the top of the screen and gain separation from former Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington during the 2014 season. This will be a staple of things he is asked to do in New England.
As mentioned Hogan can also work in the slot. Here against the Chiefs in 2014 Hogan has a quick burst off the line and makes a nice inside move on Chiefs defensive back Chris Owens. Having Hogan line up in the slot will add to his value when he can go up the seam and catch passes like the one above.
Another popular formation in the Patriots arsenal is the bunch formation. The Patriots use this often to create mismatches for their receivers. Above we see hogan line up on the inside of the bunch package. He runs a simple flat route catches the ball in stride and turns it up the field for the score. In Josh McDaniels passing offense mismatches and misdirection is key to moving the football.
While Hogan may not have the name of some of the other wide receivers the Patriots were linked to such as Rishard Matthews or Mohamed Sanu, expect Hogan to make an impact this season for the Patriots. He will not be the number one option but he will put up similar numbers to what Givens and LaFell have in the past.