Bourne makes bold prediction about Patriots WRs entering 2023 season

Bourne makes bold prediction about Patriots WRs entering 2023 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The lack of a No. 1 wide receiver on the New England Patriots' depth chart has been a topic all summer, especially after the team failed to sign free agent wideout DeAndre Hopkins.

But despite the lack of a true game-changing player at the position, there's more talent in this group entering the 2023 NFL season compared to the 2022 campaign, particularly with rookies Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte impressing during the preseason and earning a spot on the initial 53-man roster.

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Is it possible that fans and the media are underrating this position group?

“I think we’re doing good,” Kendrick Bourne told reporters after Wednesday's practice. “There’s always room to grow, and that’s how we need to think every day. Not thinking we’re there, not thinking we’re somebody we’re not, but just growing every day. Practicing and evaluating ourselves every day — honestly. I think we’re in a great place, but always can get better. We need that mind-set of how we can be great instead of just good.

Bourne later added: “Ju-Ju (Smith-Schuster) is a great asset, man. He came in with a great mindset. (DeVante Parker) has a great mindset. And I think we’re going to be a group that’s going to shock a lot of people. I think it’s good to be the underdogs. That's how they're treating us.”

If this group is healthy, it definitely has the potential to exceed expectations.

DeVante Parker is a good No. 3. Smith-Schuster and Bourne are capable of being quality No. 2s. Douglas and Boutte provide valuable depth and have the potential to be surprise contributors. Bourne, in particular, is primed for a bounce-back season after his production and usage dropped off significantly in 2022 with Matt Patricia running the offense. He should play a much larger role in Bill O'Brien's offense, and he certainly made the most of his reps in the preseason.

The primary concern with the Patriots wideouts is injuries. There are worries about Smith-Schuster's knee, although he downplayed those fears Wednesday. Parker has played one full season in his 8-year career and missed four games in 2022. Second-year wideout Tyquan Thornton has a shoulder injury and will miss at least the first four games of the upcoming campaign. He missed four games due to injury as a rookie last season as well.

The Patriots should have given starting quarterback Mac Jones a legit No. 1 wide receiver in the offseason. But there's more than enough talent at the position for the Patriots' passing attack to show tremendous improvement from last season's debacle under Patricia.