Breakout Player of the Year (so far): Demario Douglas
A major complaint by fans from the 2023 draft was the Patriots' lack of urgency to address the need for better pass catchers on the team. Instead of snagging one of the more prominent names in an early round, Bill Belichick waited until round six to finally select a wide receiver and actually took two of them.
Most of the initial excitement surrounded Kayshon Boutte, who had been a first-round prospect at one time. But as soon as training camp and preseason began, Demario Douglas was all that anyone could talk about.
His exciting performance during practices made him stand out above all others, including veteran receivers. He was so impressive that he seemingly cemented a spot on the Patriots' 53-man roster before preseason was even finished, a feat few can say they've done when a part of the New England team.
As the offense continued to work through growing pains from the start of the season through all nine games, Douglas earned his place atop the depth chart, even more so after Kendrick Bourne tore his ACL in Week 8 against the Dolphins, ending his season. He has become Mac Jones' go-to guy overall, especially when the offense needs a boost with a near guarantee of moving the chains.
Heading into Week 10 in Germany against the Colts, Douglas has played in every game so far, totaling 24/37 receptions for 277 yards. He has yet to reach the end zone, but it's only a matter of time before that happens.
He's also become a versatile player that Belichick is known for having a soft spot for. Not only can Douglas be productive on the offense, but he has also shown he can be a threat as a punt returner.
With the injury of Marcus Jones keeping him out for the rest of the season, Douglas' flexibility takes on a new level of importance, demonstrating even more how integral he has become on the team in a short amount of time.