New England Patriots: How Does WR Chris Hogan Fit?

Chris Hogan might not have the most defined role in the New England Patriots offense, but expect him to play a key role for Tom Brady in 2016.

The New England Patriots are known for having one of the top offenses in the NFL year in and year out. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski lead the way for a cerebral offense that keeps the Patriots in contention for a Super Bowl nearly every season.

A position the Patriots needed to fill entering 2016 was an outside the numbers receiver. They had the middle of the field covered with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, but lacked any presence on the perimeter. To fill this need, they added Chris Hogan as a restricted free agent.

Nov 23, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) reacts after not getting a pass interference call against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The former Buffalo Bills receiver is not exactly a big name signing, but is a player that has many in New England excited. He has just six career starts and only 87 career receptions for 959 yards and six touchdowns, but he is an active receiver with good size that possesses reliable hands.

Hogan was impressive in Patriots’ OTAs, leading many to wonder what his role might be in the New England offense.

The answer to that is a little more complex. Hogan projects to be the third receiver on the depth chart – behind Edelman and Amendola. This is generally is a spot that sees a lot of action in the NFL, but no other NFL team has a one-two punch like Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett at tight end.

With Edelman, Amendola, Gronkowski, Bennett and even running back Dion Lewis all more likely options for Brady, where exactly does Hogan fit in?

Hogan’s 11 yards per reception over his career suggests he should be in a similar role to Edelman (10.5 yards per reception) and Amendola (9.4 yards per reception). His size is where he separates from the slot receivers. The 6-1 Hogan runs crisp routes and uses his size well. His athleticism and body control allow him to fight back for the ball – making him an ideal candidate to fill the role that Brandon LaFell filled to success in 2014.

It seems like a near guarantee that Hogan will eclipse his previous career-high of 41 receptions now that he is in New England, especially if he can master the back-shoulder play that Tom Brady is famous for. He might not become a superstar or the focal point of the Patriots offense, but Hogan has the skills and hands to become a reliable chain mover that will be key on 3rd downs.

Patriots fans should not expect gaudy numbers for Hogan, but be prepared for a lot of key first downs and clutch plays from Hogan.