Patriots land playmaking WR in ESPN’s way-too-early 2023 mock draft

The 2022 NFL draft took place a little less than two months ago. Nevertheless, ESPN is already identifying needs for the New England Patriots in next year’s draft.

The Patriots made the wide receiver position a focus this off-season. They traded for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker and drafted rookie  Tyquan Thornton out of Baylor. These moves are in addition to what the team did last season in free agency. They signed wide receiver Kendrick Bourne and doubled down on tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.

Nevertheless, wide receiver depth could still be a need following the 2022 season. ESPN’s Matt Miller put together a list of draft picks and had the Patriots slotted in at the 18th overall selection. LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte was Miller’s pick for the Patriots.

The junior wide receiver caught 39 passes for 509 yards and nine touchdowns last season, averaging 13.4 yards per reception. Those numbers were a little down from a 2020 campaign that saw him record 735 yards and five touchdowns. Miller’s selection would give the Patriots another weapon.

Let’s get quarterback Mac Jones some help in New England. Boutte had 38 catches last season, but coach Brian Kelly should usher in a more pro-style offense for the Tigers, in turn boosting Boutte’s numbers. At 6-foot, 190 pounds, his size and speed remind me some of Philadelphia’s DeVonta Smith, who was the No. 10 pick in 2021. Boutte needs the on-field production to propel himself up draft boards in the same way Smith did when he won the Heisman Trophy in 2020.

It would be an intriguing selection for a Patriots team that has been looking for a top wide receiver. Obviously, there is still a full season to be played. Nevertheless, this does provide some intrigue, as the Patriots look to keep up with the top teams in the AFC.


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