The New England Patriots‘ offensive personnel needs to undergo some changes this offseason.
We wouldn’t say drastic upgrades are needed, but with holes at left guard, right tackle and wide receiver, fans are clamoring for change.
In terms of wide receiver, N’Keal Harry is as good as gone. We’d like to see Nelson Agholor follow the 2019 first-rounder out the door, but his dead money charge for 2022 means he’ll likely play one more season in New England.
The good news is Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers are pieces worth keeping. While Meyers’ productive 2021 was expected after his 2020 campaign, Bourne’s emergence was a little more farfetched.
For former college teammate Cooper Kupp, though, Bourne’s breakout fell right in line with his prediction back at Eastern Washington.
Cooper Kupp knew Patriots WR Kendrick Bourne would make a name for himself in the NFL.
"“I remember watching Kendrick’s film after my first year,” Kupp recalled Monday on Super Bowl Opening Night. “Our receiver coach said, ‘We’ve got this guy coming in, we think we really like him. Check his film out.’ So I watched him, and I was blown away by just how great of a route-runner he was, how strong he was after the catch, had the twitch. He had so many things about his game that I think are very impressive. He continued to grow, too. He ended up (playing) as a (true) freshman and just continued to get better and better, year after year.“A little inside scoop, I guess, on Kendrick is before our last year together, I actually sat down with him, and I told him straight up, ‘You are a better receiver than I am.’ And if he was able to get some things in order, he was going to just take off. And I think he really did just that.”"
Putting aside that fact that Kupp has evolved into the better receiver, at least statistically speaking, this is an awesome quote.
Kupp and Bourne formed quite the duo serving as Eastern Washington’s top two wide receivers. In three years with the Eagles, Bourne racked up 211 catches for 3,130 yards and 27 touchdowns, each of which rank in the top seven in school history. He was also a three-time All-Big Sky selection to boot.
As expected, Kupp had better numbers, including a monster 2016 season that helped put him on the map as an NFL prospect. That year, the Rams phenom posted 117 catches for 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was a four-time First-Team FCS All-American and holds too many FCS records to count.
Kupp has outshined Bourne in the NFL, too, but that takes nothing away from what Bourne meant to the Patriots offense in 2021. Over four years with the 49ers, he had never topped 50 receptions or 700 receiving yards.
In 2021 alone, Bourne compiled 55 receptions for 800 yards and tied a career-high with five touchdowns. His 78.6% catch percentage was a new personal best and ranked third among receivers who had at least 40 receptions.
Moreover, only former 49ers teammate Deebo Samuel registered more yards per target than Bourne (11.43) this season.
For most Patriots fans, those numbers come as a shock. For Kupp, though, it was several years in the making, proving that all Bourne ever needed was an opportunity.