The last few seasons have been rough for the New England Patriots, and poor drafting has played a huge part in their struggles. They have whiffed on many of their recent picks, and it has led to them being a mediocre team in the post-Tom Brady era.
After receiving high marks for their 2023 draft class, New England is hoping to turn those fortunes around. The Patriots got great value in the first round with Oregon's Christian Gonzalez, one of the best corners in the draft, falling right into their lap. The selection of Georgia Tech edge rusher Keion White, who some had as a first-round pick, in the second round was another good one.
We won't know how well these players will pan out until they actually see the field, but this class seems very promising. That includes the later picks as well, and one of those picks, in particular, could make an immediate impact. That player is receiver Kayshon Boutte out of LSU, and here's why he will succeed.
Patriots Rookie Sleeper: Kayshon Boutte
Boutte was an elite prospect coming out of high school, being a five-star recruit according to 247Sports. His senior season was insane, as he accounted for nearly 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns between receiving, rushing, and returning. He was so good that he was already receiving hype as a first-round pick, even drawing comparisons to Buffalo Bills star Stefon Diggs.
After committing to LSU and staying close to home, Boutte lived up to the hype, at first. He had a solid showing as a freshman, catching 45 receptions for 735 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games. Then 2021, he had a torrid start with 38 receptions for 509 yards and nine touchdowns in six games.
Unfortunately, Boutte suffered a season-ending injury during an October 2021 game against the Florida Gators. Expectations were high for Boutte upon his return, but he sadly never fully bounced back. He finished the 2022 season with 48 receptions for 538 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games for the Tigers. Boutte wasn't even the Tigers' top target anymore as sophomore Malik Nabers eclipsed him.
Thanks to his injuries and poor performance in the 2022 season, Boutte's draft stock dropped like a rock, and the Patriots eventually took him in the sixth round. That said, the talent is still there and he can be a valuable addition to the team.
New England has had issues at receiver for a while now, even before Tom Brady left. The Patriots' last 1,000-yard receiver was Julian Edelman in 2019, and the offense has struggled since that season. This offseason hasn't seen much improvement, as swapping out Jakobi Myers for JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn't move the needle much.
Now we're not saying that Boutte will instantly become the 1,000-yard receiver the Patriots have been missing. What we are saying is that, if he can finally rebound, he could contribute to the offense early on. And if that goes well, perhaps he could take on a bigger role in the near future.
There are a lot of ifs in this prediction to be sure. However, the talent that made Boutte an elite recruit is still there, so it's entirely possible this does happen.