4 bold predictions for the New England Patriots 2023 season

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones should have a lot to smile about this season.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones should have a lot to smile about this season. / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
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The young receivers will combine for more than 1,000 yards and five TDs

The outrage about the New England Patriots not selecting a receiver in the first round of the last two drafts is tiring. Instead, fans should feel very encouraged based on what we’ve heard and seen about the young receivers on the roster.

Demario Douglas has been so good during training camp that he is getting the veteran treatment. Kayshon Boutte just took a quick slant to the house against the Green Bay Packers. And Tyquan Thornton is sidelined with another injury.

A lot of people are down on Thornton, which is understandable. You can’t make the team from the tub. But go back to his rookie highlights. He showed solid skills and some explosiveness that could be put to good use.

And Thornton had the best catch of the preseason on a leaping reception against the Texans.

Maybe it’s not that the Patriots can’t draft receivers, but they had bad luck with them, as two had careers cut short due to injuries. Hopefully, that won’t be Thornton.

He won’t have a significant role on the team with the veterans ahead of him on the roster, but he should still see the field in certain packages to exploit his abilities. One YAC play would change a lot of minds about Thornton around here.

Boutte and Douglas don’t have to prove a thing at this point. We’re sold on their potential already. Boutte started slow in camp but has been a playmaker practically every day since he found his stride. And “Pop” Douglas has done exactly that since day one in camp.

Douglas teased his elusiveness on a receiver screen against the Packers. What should have been a loss was turned into a 2-yard gain. Boutte did the same by taking a quick slant and running the rest of the way for a 42-yard score.

On paper, it looks tough for any of the three to get a lot of snaps, with DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and JuJu Smith-Schuster ahead of them on the depth chart. But injuries happen, and the Patriots typically use their depth to their advantage. Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien will find ways to use all six receivers.

A trade is possible, but it shouldn’t take moving a veteran to create more opportunities for the young pass catchers. Douglas could log 500 yards and a few scores on his own. All Boutte and Thornton would have to do is split the remaining 500 yards and notch a score each.

That would be a good combined season. And the Patriots would have three very good receivers, not just one.