Former Patriots draft pick Braxton Berrios earns First Team All-Pro kick returner nod

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Former Pats draft pick Berrios earns rare post-Foxboro honor originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

For the first time since 2013, the New England Patriots didn't have any players receive First Team All-Pro honors from the Associated Press.

One former member of the Patriots did, however, and no, it wasn't Tom Brady.

Braxton Berrios, a sixth-round pick of New England in the 2018 NFL Draft, earned First Team All-Pro honors for the New York Jets as the league's top kick returner.

Curran: Patriots may need a Buffalo breakdown to pull this one off

Berrios, who never appeared in a regular season game for the Patriots, becomes just the second draft pick for Bill Belichick in New England to earn First Team All-Pro honors after leaving Foxboro, following defensive end Chandler Jones with the Arizona Cardinals.

A University of Miami alum, Berrios led the NFL in yards per return at 30.4, returning one kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown in Week 16 against the Jacksonville Jaguars -- tied for the longest return in the league this season.

Berrios contributed beyond special teams for the woeful Jets, too, catching a career-high 46 passes (second on the team) for 431 yards, also a career-best.

Might Berrios be a rare case of one who got away?

Out of training camp in 2019, the Patriots kept undrafted free agent Gunner Olszewski over Berrios, who'd spent the entire 2018 campaign on injured reserve. Olszewski has shown a knack for big plays on special teams as well, earning First Team All-Pro nods as a punt returner in 2020, but he's caught just nine passes for 127 yards over three NFL seasons.

Berrios is up to 89 catches for 940 yards over three seasons for the Jets.

You also can't help but notice that Berrios has outperformed a first-round draft pick of the Patriots at wide receiver in 2019, N'Keal Harry, who has 57 catches for 598 yards in three seasons -- but only 12 catches for 184 yards in 2021, with no touchdowns. 

This isn't to say that Berrios is on a fast track to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but on a New England team still short on talent at wideout, one can't help but wonder the impact he could've had with just a little more time to prepare for the Patriots.