5 under-the-radar Patriots players that could break out in 2023

The New England Patriots might have the hardest schedule in the NFL, but they also have the league’s most intriguing roster heading into the 2023 regular season.

That isn’t to suggest they’re going to be the most talented group right out of the gates. They could ultimately fall flat, lose the AFC East division and miss the postseason for a second consecutive year.

But in terms of the acquired new talent and potential for growth from previous talent, the Patriots are quietly in a position to make some noise if they put the pieces together on the football field.

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We’re dealing with the latter today and pinpointing those not-so-obvious areas of potential growth for the Patriots. Here are five of the team’s under-the-radar breakout candidates:

Tyquan Thornton

Why didn’t the Patriots draft a receiver earlier in the 2023 NFL draft?

One big reason for that is they spent a second-round draft pick on Tyquan Thornton in 2022. As a rookie, the former Baylor standout landed smack-dab in a Patriots offense without a real identity under Matt Patricia.

There were flashes of high-end potential, particularly in Thornton’s ability to separate on routes. It obviously wasn’t enough to quell concerns that he’ll eventually join the long list of receiving prospects that never worked out in New England.

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But if there was ever an opportunity for him to break out, it would be this year with Bill O’Brien overseeing what could be a much-improved Patriots offense.

Ty Montgomery

Ty Montgomery’s run was cut so short last season that it’s easy to forget he’s even still on the roster.

Don’t sleep on his ability to impact the team as the best third-down option coming out of the offensive backfield. To a lesser sense, Montgomery could serve in the James White role for this Patriots offense in his ability to make plays as a receiver, along with serving as a traditional running back.

For an offense that will likely depend on short and quick throws, Montgomery could really thrive as an immediate security blanket for quarterback Mac Jones.

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Jack Jones

There is so much excitement surrounding rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez’s potential, Jonathan Jones’ return and Marcus Jones’ possible Year 2 leap that people are forgetting about Jack Jones, who seemingly came out of nowhere last season.

He’s super confident, feisty, tough to shake and a ball-tracking magician in coverage.

Jack Jones has the potential to be every bit as talented as a No. 1 option in New England, which is incredible considering Gonzalez is already being projected to serve in that role.

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The Patriots’ secondary could be one of the best in the league, even without legendary safety Devin McCourty. A second-year jump for Jack Jones could be a big reason for it, along with the arrival of Gonzalez.

Josh Uche

Billie Weiss/Getty Images
Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Josh Uche spent most of the 2022 season living in the shadows of the monstrous season Matthew Judon was having.

That started to change a bit in the Patriots’ Week 8 meeting against the New York Jets, when the former second-round draft pick notched his first sack of the season under his belt.

It was off to the races after that with the 24-year-old edge rusher racking up 11.5 sacks. Imagine the sort of damage he’ll do with even more confidence and an expiring contract hanging overhead.

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Could this be a year where we’re talking about Uche as the premier pass rusher in New England over Judon?

Kyle Dugger

Winslow Townson/Getty Images
Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Speaking of hiding in the shadows, Kyle Dugger has spent his entire career so far with the Patriots playing alongside one of the franchise’s all-time greats in safety Devin McCourty.

With McCourty gone and the team looking to shift towards new leaders on the defense, Dugger could really step up in that regard both on and off the field.

It’s pretty crazy to think he has yet to receive a Pro Bowl nod, but that could all obviously change if he takes his game to another level next season. Like Uche, Dugger is playing on an expiring contract with plenty of reasons to make the biggest splash he possibly can on the regular season stat sheet.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire