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Trusted Target: Mac Jones No. 1 Patriots' Pass Catcher in 2022?

The Patriots possess plenty of pass catchers for Mac Jones' arsenal.

FOXBORO - For the first time in a long time, the New England Patriots' offense genuinely has some respectable pass catchers. But it's quantity more than quality.

Gone are the days of Tom Brady trusting and targeting Wes Welker or Julian Edelman 150 times a season. Or the glory days of Brady throwing 17 touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski or 23 to Randy Moss. 

However, that doesn't mean this group of pass-catchers can't mesh with second-year quarterback Mac Jones.

Of course, there isn't a true No. 1 receiver like in the past with Edelman, so any receiver or tight end could ultimately haul in the most passes this coming season. Could it be newcomer DeVante Parker? His best season came in 2019 with the Miami Dolphins when he caught 72 passes for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns.

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Perhaps it’s a young player like rookie Tyquan Thornton or Tre Nixon who breaks out and adds a dynamic element to the offense? After spending the entirety of his rookie season on the Patriots practice squad Nixon was a standout at minicamp, quickly becoming a favorite target of Jones.

Last year it was Jakobi Meyers with 83 receptions followed by Kendrick Bourne with 55 catches in 17 games. New England figures to have more of a passing game in 2022, so the total should be higher. But with so many options in the passing game maybe the targets are spread out over a number of different players, like how running back Brandon Bolden caught 41 passes last year.

New England expects Meyers to have another productive season. But ultimately between the tight ends and revamped wide receiver room, there are a lot of mouths to feed. While Hunter Henry should have another solid season, Jonnu Smith seems like a player due for that typical Year 2 leap.

Nelson Agholor is an option, but he's more of a big-play receiver than one prone to volume catches. At least that’s what New England thought they were getting when they threw $26 million at him last offseason. He finished last season with a disappointing 37 receptions for 473 yards and three touchdowns.

There is also N’Keal Harry, who is somehow still on this team. Harry, who is a former first-round pick, set a career-high 33 catches in 2020. It’s unlikely he leads the team in receptions considering the Patriots have given him every imaginable chance to succeed and he simply has not taken the bait.