The New England Patriots didn't make a big splash at wide receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft, but they selected a pair of receivers in the sixth round.
Many people have looked at Patriots sixth-round pick and LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte as a possible steal of the draft. The other receiver they selected, Demario Douglas, has flown under the radar, but his coach at Liberty wants everyone to know how special of a player he is.
Hugh Freeze, who recruited and coached Douglas at Liberty for four seasons prior to becoming Auburn's head coach in November, told ESPN's Mike Reiss he believes his former player can be a breakout star in New England.
“Y’all [the Patriots] have been great at moving those guys around and putting them in iso situations. I think that is his strength,” Freeze told Reiss of Douglas. “He could play for me right now at Auburn and start for us. He is the best, most quick-twitched kid at getting in and out of breaks that I’ve ever coached.
“He’s not the burner 4.27 guy [in the 40-yard dash], but his … short-area quickness and his hands are phenomenal. If you watch the way he rolls out of breaks, it’s pretty darn special.”
— Liberty Football (@LibertyFootball) November 12, 2022
Physically, Douglas is a smaller player. He's 5-foot-8 and weighs 170 pounds. However, he was able to play like a star at Liberty over the past two seasons. He had 52 receptions for 701 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games during the 2021 season and followed that up with a 79-catch season in 2022, resulting in 993 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns.
As Freeze mentioned, Douglas isn't necessarily in the highest percentile for speed among receivers, either. He ran a 4.44 40-yard dash ahead of the NFL Draft this year.
What makes Douglas a special player to Freeze though are his double moves, which he said Douglas is “incredible at those.”
“You’re probably going to have to play him inside and move him around; the catch radius on vertical seams could be an issue because you know he’s undersized,” Freeze said of how Douglas might fit on the Patriots. “But on third-and-5, get him iso’d, he’s a handful to handle.”
Receiving isn't the only area in which Douglas showcased his talent at during his time with Liberty. He returned two punts for touchdowns over the 54 punt returns he had in his college career.
Freeze told Reese that Douglas is “excellent” as a returner too and thinks he has the right makeup to succeed in the NFL.
Like… How @dreamchaser031 🤯
Demario Douglas is a cheat code! 🎮 pic.twitter.com/GI68Z85V9X
— Liberty Football (@LibertyFootball) September 19, 2021
“He has the natural ability to do it, and he has the work ethic. He’s a great teammate. Loves the game. Loves to practice,” Freeze said. “He’s so pleasant to be around, with no sense of entitlement. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Douglas might have a chance to make the Patriots' roster as the fifth wide receiver on the depth chart. DeVante Parker, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton are likely locks to make the roster at this point.