Weight: 210 lbs.
College: Louisiana State
NFL Draft: 2010 - Round: 3 - Pick: 78
The Patriots offense is already humming along this season on the backs of a bunch of guys who just go by their last names: Brady, Gronk. Edelman... However, with Brandon LaFell getting up to speed, this offense just becomes that much better. Last year was LaFell's first as a Patriot and he played a major role in the offense (74 receptions, 953 yards, 7 TDs). He was big in the postseason (as seen in the video above and as demonstrated by his statistical contributions: 13 receptions, 119 yards, 2 TDs).
This year, LaFell began the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list with a foot injury and so far has only played in the Patriots two most recent games. His first game back was against the tough Jets defense and he struggled badly. He only caught two of his eight targets for 19 yards. He improved last week against the Dolphins catching four passes for 47 yards. By his own account, he's still not quite 100% where he wants to be. We'll see how much better he is 10 days later going up against the 'Skins.
An experienced, tough receiver, LaFell brings talent, and most importantly size to the Pats offense. Something that doesn't get talked about enough is his ability as a blocker. That ability was on full display last week as LaFell had the key block that sprung Rob Gronkowski's 47-yard TD catch and run. At 6'3", 210 lbs, he's a handful. He reminds a lot of people of Dwayne Bowe. His huge, long strides make him deceivingly fast and he has great hands, though he can be prone to drops/lack of concentration. He's another guy (along with Gronk) who can use his size and make big, tough catches over the middle in traffic and he also has the height and leaping ability to be an effective target on jump balls and in the red-zone. He's known to be better in the short and intermediate areas as opposed to being used downfield. His height and frame are ideal.
Potential Against the Redskins
Think about it, you're Joe Barry. You're tasked with defending against probably the best offense in the NFL. You have to figure out how to deal with Tom Brady. You have to contain Gronk. You're up all night thinking about Julian Edelman. You're dreading the two-headed monster of Lewis and Blount at RB. And you're watching tape of all these guys all year. You're focused. But who are you missing? Who hasn't been playing all year yet was a hugely important piece of this same offense just last year? That's right. Brandon LaFell. He's getting up to speed and could be a guy who really hurts the Redskins simply due to the fact that everyone on the defense has so many weapons to worry about stopping.
Furthermore, you're looking at your secondary and you're seeing Bashaud Breeland probably not able to go. You're seeing Culliver and Hall clearly not at 100%. You don't think Bill Belichick is seeing those same things? He loves to play the match-ups and attack his opponents weaknesses. One great way to attack a vulnerable secondary with a bunch of hurt CBs is with your big, fresh, unassuming WR. It's what he always does. Just when you think one thing is coming, he hits you with something else. Could LaFell be that something else?
In 2011, Brandon LaFell set a Carolina Panther franchise record for longest pass play after catching a 91-yard TD pass from Cam Newton. Brandon wears #19 because his friend and former teammate Ted Ginn also wears #19. Last year, Brandon led the Pats WRs in snaps. When the Madden video game came out this year, Brandon was pretty upset with his overall rating of 83:
#Madden16 overall 83???? GTFOH— Jody Breeze (@Blafell1) August 26, 2015