Braxton Berrios: Part Danny Amendola, Part Red Zone Weapon

Braxton Berrios

The New England Patriots enter 2019 with a revamped receiving core featuring bigger targets with a physical play style. N’Keal Harry, Maurice Harris, and Jakobi Meyers are all larger receivers who win on size more than quickness, which definitely has not been New England’s philosophy over the years. While the Patriots are clearly trying to zig while the rest of the NFL zags, there is a holdover of the old guard in second-year wide receiver Braxton Berrios. Berrios missed his rookie season with a case of the Foxboro Flu but is already in Massachusetts getting ready for the upcoming season.

How Braxton Berrios Fits New England Patriots Offense

Berrios is on the smaller side at 5’9” and 190 pounds. This would be a red flag about a decade ago, but New England is capable of succeeding with players of this frame. From Wes Welker to Julian Edelman to Danny Amendola, the Patriots offense has been built around shifty players who can beat double teams in the short and intermediate portions of the field.

When looking at his film, the first thing that stands out is his ball skills. Despite his relatively small frame, Berrios manages to catch anything and everything thrown his way. He makes up for his lack of size with fantastic ball tracing skills and always knows where he is in relation to the closest defender and the sideline. He has a larger catch radius than you’d expect and has soft hands that bring in just about anything. He’s also pretty good after the catch and typically picks up every yard available.

With Rob Gronkowski retired, the Patriots could try to use Berrios as a red zone weapon. No, seriously. The Patriots need to find a new option in the red zone, and Braxton Berrios recorded nine touchdowns in 2017. Berrios is capable of creating small windows of separation with his route running and isn’t afraid to make catches in tight areas. Additionally, he can use his impressive body control and ball tracking skills for passes along the sideline. Using a player like Berrios to partially replace a player like Gronkowski might sound weird at first, but Berrios has the skills to make plays deep in enemy territory.

The Downsides

Braxton Berrios probably won’t ever develop into a true number one receiver like Julian Edelman. Berrios played exclusively out of the slot in college, and it’s hard to see him ever succeeding as an outside receiver. While this partially limits his value, players like Wes Welker and Danny Amendola have proven that slot receivers can be a big part of New England’s offense.

Interestingly enough, one of the biggest issues with Berrios is that he struggles to separate in the open field. While he’s always able to get a step on his defender (that’s part of the reason that he’s so good in the red zone) he rarely gets open in the way that Edelman or even Amendola could. He made up for it with his YAC prowess in college, but that skill may not translate to the NFL.

Additionally, Berrios needs to work on improving his route tree and overall fundamentals. This isn’t surprising, as this note could be applied to just about every receiver coming out of college. This lack of polish showed up in the preseason when he recorded just one reception for three yards. Only time will how much Berrios has improved since college, but early reports state that he was a standout in spring workouts.

Special Teams

Berrios’ quickest path to the active roster might be on special teams. New England hasn’t had a true punt returner in recent seasons, as they’ve mostly used Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and even Patrick Chung on occasion. Berrios returned punts for Miami with mostly positive results.

Braxton Berrios probably won’t ever develop into anyone as good as Julian Edelman. He’s not as quick on his feet and doesn’t have the same explosive ability. However, he could develop into a poor mans’ Danny Amendola. Outside of the playoffs, Amendola was never anything more than a complementary part of the offense. He lined up exclusively in the slot and came up with timely catches, but he was rarely asked to win games by himself. Berrios is more than capable of developing into something like that, and his red zone abilities are better than that of Amendola. Given New England’s current wide receiver room, don’t be surprised in Berrios is the third or fourth option in the passing attack come Week One.

2 COMMENTS

  1. David, Berrios may not be another Edelman or Amendola……but he can be a faster version of Hogan with even better hands…..and that would be plus by any measure.

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