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Former Alabama Receiver Slade Bolden Sounds Like A Solid Option For Patriots

BOSTON (CBS) -- The Patriots will almost assuredly be adding a wide receiver to Mac Jones' arsenal this offseason, whether through the draft or free agency. (Or both.) They reportedly had eyes on three receivers on Tuesday at the NFL Combine, and you can add another to the list on Wednesday.

And this receiver seems to be the perfect Patriot, based on everything he had to say Wednesday in Indianapolis. It also helps that he already has a pretty good relationship with the guy that would be throwing him footballs.

We're talking about Slade Bolden, the former Alabama receiver who possesses not only the best name in the draft but a solid resume as a slot receiver and return man during his college career. That career happened to be at Alabama, where he was actually roommates with a kid named Mac Jones.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Bolden and his New England connections. Who does Bolden model his game after? He said Wednesday it was Julian Edelman. He also added that Alabama OC and former Patriots coach Bill O'Brien would talk to him about how he used to use Wes Welker in New England.

Here's Bolden's checklist:

Relationship with Mac Jones? Check.

Modeling his game after one of New England's all-time greats? Check.

A little Wes Welker sprinkled in? Check.

Sounds good to us.

Bolden is no lock to be drafted at the end of April, but he did tell reporters on Wednesday that he has already spoken with the Patriots. And the fit makes sense for a team that needs weapons on offense, and loves to find value playmakers late in the draft or out of the undrafted pool.

The 5-foot-11, 191-pound Bolden did not light it up like others usually do in the Alabama's high octane offense. He caught just 68 passes over his three seasons in Tuscaloosa, only four of which went for touchdowns. His first score came in the 2021 National Championship game, a five-yard pass from Jones in Alabama's 52-24 win over Ohio State.

But he'd also give New England another option to return kicks, with 22 punt returns for 148 yards and five kickoff returns for the Crimson Tide. Bill Belichick loves his late-round or undrafted guys to do as much as they possibly can, and it sounds like Bolden fits that bill.

The team needs an impact receiver to be Jones' No. 1, and they would not be getting that from Bolden. But it sounds like he could be a low-risk addition that could pay off big.

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