Has The Best Named Patriots Receiver Played His Way To A Roster Spot?

August 24, 2022
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The Patriots’ receiving room is too crowded for the first time in what seems like forever. However, even with the recent injury of rookie Tyquan Thornton, there will still be an exciting player cut from this room.

Lil Jordan Humphrey has performed admirably enough to warrant a spot on the final 53-man roster. Although everyone likes to claim that Humphrey isn’t fast enough to be a threat on the field, I think he finds ways to be effective without being a game-breaker.

Throughout the two preseason games, Humphrey has 14 targets, 11 catches for 133 yards, and a touchdown. He has been a consistent presence in the middle of the field, connecting with Zappe on multiple post routes in between the numbers. Despite all the speed concerns, Humphrey has been finding himself open during this preseason.

Should The Patriots Keep Lil Jordan?

The recent injury of rookie speedster Tyquan Thornton makes this a much easier question. Humphrey has made the most of his playing time, doing everything the Patriots are asking him to do. He plays the game like he is a smaller shifty receiver like Edelman. He is just a six-foot-four version of that. In all seriousness, Lil Jordan’s ability to find the whole in coverage has benefited Zappe when the pressure comes at him.

Humphrey spent some time in New Orleans having a respectable backup career; this could be his opportunity to shine because he offers the size and strength to make plays. He seems like the player constantly making contested catches, but he hasn’t needed to during this preseason action because he’s typically been wide open. So Humphrey’s breakout shouldn’t be out of the question in a deep but unsolidified group of pass catchers.

To clarify, I don’t believe Lil Jordan will be a Pro Bowl player, but he can substantially impact the roster if he sticks around. He’s proven he can be reliable when called on, even when playing with the second-string offense. I understand that it is the preseason, and the competition isn’t the same, but when I’ve seen him play, he’s open sure-handed, and hard to bring down. He is a valuable substitute for fresh legs or in case of more injuries at the position.

Which Patriot Could Take The Spot Of Humphrey?

The two obvious choices are Tre Nixon & Kristian Wilkerson, which have performed but are not consistent enough to put them ahead of Lil Jordan in my book. However, some people may think differently, so let’s figure out why. Nixon seems like the more flashy player catching the 50/50 sideline fades or looking tough going over the middle of the field, but he’s had drops and penalties. Tre is the most explosive of this group, but he also has the highest variance of outcomes.

Wilkerson was most likely ahead of Humphrey coming into the preseason, but Lil Jordan may have leaped ahead of him on the depth chart after his unfortunate injury. It’s not Kristian’s fault. This is a business, and when a player misses time, it makes it much harder for him to take the spot of someone who has taken every available rep.

The best-case scenario would be the Patriots keeping all three of them by listing Humphrey as a tight end and dropping Devin Asiasi. The team has already waived Dalton Keene, possibly paving the way for a roster spot to keep all this wide receiver talent. It’s not top-end talent, but these players wouldn’t clear waivers with some of the WR situations in the league.

Conclusion

I think Lil Jordan Humphrey has done more than enough to earn a roster spot on the Patriots’ final 53-man roster. I would say he has earned some rotational playing time during the season. If this guy gets on the field, he will be productive in this scheme, and he has shown everything that someone needs to in camp or preseason action to make the team heading into Week one.


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