New England Patriots “X” receiver Kenbrell Thompkins put together an excellent training camp, and his preseason resume included an eight-catch, 116-yard performance against the Detroit Lions in which he thoroughly outclassed talented Lions rookie CB Darius Slay. Thompkins’s ability to release off the line of scrimmage, short-area quickness, route-running, and solid long speed haven’t brought much in the form of regular season results, though, as Kenbrell Thompkins has surprisingly struggled through two weeks.
Much has been made of how bad the rookie receivers have been for the New England Patriots, but there is reason to believe that the Patriots could have a very strong group of receivers once we get into December. But the Patriots might not to be able to wait that long if they can’t win enough games now. Then again, they have an elite offensive line, a strong running game, and a solid defense. And oh yeah, the guy throwing the passes behind center is Tom Brady, so the Patriots should be able to pull things together by then.
Thompkins came into the regular season as the most polished wide receiver on the Patriots despite his undrafted free agent tag, and Tom Brady hasn’t given up on targeting him despite the low returns. So how low have the returns been? Kenbrell Thompkins has the NFL’s lowest catch rate, as Tom Brady has completed just 28.6% of his passes when throwing to Thompkins.
That league-low rate also gives Thompkins an average of just 4.2 yards per target, which is a bottom-ten total. Thompkins has been targeted 21 times overall through two games this season, and the Cincinnati Bearcats UDFA has turned that into just six receptions for 89 yards. Those catches have gone for 14.8 yards per reception, so the great thing is that Thompkins has shown big-play ability. He has the ability to the “X” receiver, and the biggest issue right now is just timing. That will get better, and I have full confidence that Thompkins will made significant strides sooner rather than later.
He’ll have to, too, because a 28.6% catch rate is absolutely awful. The next-lowest total belongs to now-benched Cleveland Browns receiver Greg Little (aka “AND ANOTHER DROP”) with a 36.4% catch rate. But unlike Thompkins, Little has not averaged much per reception, as he averages a paltry 7.4 yards per reception for an even more obscene 2.7 yards per target. Then again, Tom Brady is also a heckuva lot better than Brandon Weeden.