There’s a powerful relationship between a quarterback and his slot receiver. Two of the greatest duos of all time were Tom Brady working with Wes Welker and more recently Julian Edelman. The success Brady had with these guys proves it’s almost a necessity for every pocket passing quarterback to have a reliable slot receiver.
Now that it looks like the 2nd year QB, Jarrett Stidham, will be the starter for New England this season. It was a smart move on Bill Belichick’s part to sign someone that his young quarterback was already familiar with.
That someone is undrafted free agent wide receiver (now a Patriot) Will Hastings. Hastings is 5’10”, 174 lbs, and played at Auburn from 2016-2019. He started off his career by walking on as a kicker after only receiving three offers from Division III schools. Soon after, he switched to playing WR by showing off his speed and quick-twitch skills.
At Auburn, Stidham and Hastings played together in 2017. That season Hastings totaled 26 catches for 525 yards with 4 touchdowns. He then tore his ACL causing him to miss the 2018 season. Stidham’s production fell off in his final year and it became evident that the QB missed Hastings’ contributions to the catching game.
Last season, the WR caught 19 passes for 222 yards with 1 touchdown. At his pro day in March, Hastings ran a 4.03-second short shuttle, 6.55-second 3-cone drill, and ran a 4.5o-second 40-yard dash. These numbers show that he hasn’t lost any of his quickness and agility after going through 2 college knee surgeries.
His size and skill set are close to those of Welker and Edelman. He shows the run after catch ability and awareness of Welker with the catching and physicality of Edelman.
Hastings will have to fight for a roster spot, due to the many WR additions lately.
Hopefully, the bond between Stidham and his former slot receiver pay off for the Patriots this season.
Photo credit: Cat Wofford