Patriots may have found the wide receiver they were looking for in Kayshon Boutte

Florida State v LSU
Florida State v LSU / Chris Graythen/GettyImages

There have been various reactions to the Patriots' decision to draft former first-round wide receiver prospect Kayshon Boutte earlier this year, mainly due to his rapid decline in performance during his last season at LSU.

Other than his clouded final year in college, Boutte was stamped with the "character concerns" label from scouts because of an alleged conflict between him and the new head coach in 2022. However, Bill Belichick is known for taking risks on those types of players, and since the Patriots were very much in need of a flashy receiver, he decided the potential of Boutte worthy of selecting him in the sixth round.

Initially, the pick was lauded as a potential steal of the draft because of the explosive nature of Boutte's playstyle and his obvious potential in the NFL. Although Belichick was criticized for waiting until nearly the end of the draft to address one of the more vulnerable positions on the team, the former LSU standout was at one point considered to be the best receiver of the 2023 class.

That may have changed before he declared for the draft, but choosing Boutte is already appearing to be one of the better decisions by Belichick in recent drafts.

He had a slow start to the summer, with fellow rookie receiver Demario Douglas dominating headlines for his performance in practice. Then there was the breakout game of rookie quarterback Malik Cunningham, who became the only player to be discussed for days after the Patriots' first preseason game against the Texans.

But as things always do in the NFL, some of that conversation has switched to focus on how well Boutte looked during joint practices last week and during the game with the Packers on Saturday night.

The most memorable moment from the game came in the second quarter when Bailey Zappe threw to Boutte in questionable coverage on 2nd and 10. Boutte made an over-the-shoulder pass with one defender on his back and the other quickly making his way to him.

It was a flashback to his days in Louisiana, as he turned the play into a 42-yard touchdown for the first Patriots points of the game.

It was an exciting moment for the young player and fans who had been hoping to see that type of play from Boutte that was so reminiscent of his LSU days.

His time in the game may have been short, as he only recorded two receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown. But his performance caught the eye of those around the league and the media, like former Steelers safety turned NFL analyst on ESPN Ryan Clark.

Clark expressed his thoughts on Twitter immediately after seeing Boutte's touchdown.

Some may say it's too early to deem any player a steal of the draft since it's still the preseason, and we don't even know who will wind up on the final 53-man roster for the 2023 season. And for the most part, they're right.

However, with the Patriots' horrible luck with drafting receivers in the Belichick era, it's difficult not to celebrate even small wins like Boutte's touchdown because fans want to believe so badly that the team finally found the hidden gem receiver they've needed.

With three weeks left until the regular season, Boutte must remain focused and practice hard to maintain his hot streak and solidify his spot on the team. He has a prime opportunity right now with Tyquan Thornton nursing an injury, who was expected to have a big second-year leap this season.

The Patriots need a stable receiving corps this season, and if Boutte can be one of those guys for Mac Jones, then hopefully, he can keep the hype going and perform accordingly.