Patriots Creating An Army Of Little People?

The Patriots are collecting undersized wide receivers to the extent that quarterback Tom Brady might soon be able to claim a "Smurfs" sequel.

Patriots sign WRs Lloyd, Gonzalez
The SportsXchange

The Patriots are collecting undersized wide receivers to the extent that quarterback Tom Brady might soon be able to claim a "Smurfs" sequel.

New England agreed to deals with free agent wide receivers Brandon Lloyd and Anthony Gonzalez on Saturday, and have already locked down their star No. 1 receiver, 5-foot-9 Wes Welker, with the franchise tag.

Lloyd signed a three-year, $12 million deal after making no secret of his desire to join the Patriots. Lloyd also had interest from the Dolphins and 49ers but didn't make much of an effort to return to the Rams, where he spent the second half of last season following a trade deadline swap that sent him to St. Louis from the Broncos.

B.Lloyd
St. Louis Rams Brandon Lloyd makes a one-handed catch (David Richard-US PRESSWIRE) 11/13/2011
Lloyd had 147 catches for 2,414 yards in the last two seasons, including his Pro Bowl breakout season with the Broncos in 2010. That offense was directed by then-head coach Josh McDaniels, who now works for the Patriots.

Gonzalez, a first-round pick of the Colts in 2007, has largely been limited by injuries and fell behind the likes of Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon with Indianapolis. He's a precision route-runner with good straight-line speed but is unproven after playing just 11 games the last three seasons. If healthy, the 6-foot Gonzalez could be a fit in the slot.

Lloyd isn't a blazer, but he runs very good routes and has incredible hands, body control and the quickness to shake blanket coverage. He's also 6-0, but isn't short on confidence, one reason he's been with six teams since he was a fourth-round pick out of Illinois in 2003.

The additions likely mean bad news for Chad Ochocinco's bid to return to the Patriots, but it also begs the question: Where's the size?

Of course, Brady has large targets in talented tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

But the Welker-Lloyd-Gonzalez trio reminds of Art Monk's sidekicks in Washington in 1982, a group coach Joe Gibbs lovingly dubbed "The Smurfs." Monk was 6-foot-3, but Charlie Brown (5-10, Alvin Garrett (5-7) and Virgil Seay (5-8) were all dangerous options in their own right.


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