After 13 days of New England Patriots practices, there is a clear distinction of players separating themselves from the rest. Of course, there will still be struggles as there are still another three weeks till the Patriots front office has to trim the roster down to 53 players. When looking ahead at final roster projections regarding the New England Patriots receiver’s room, who is in and out?
When looking at the 53-man roster, it is vital to note that only 46 can suit up for regular season games. So, NFL teams carry about five to six receivers on any given Sunday, depending on how the rest of their roster is constructed. When thinking of the Patriots, it is also important to note that Matthew Slater, a long-time special teamer, is technically listed as a wide receiver, so the gameday New England Patriots receivers room is slimmer. So, in theory, the Patriots will only carry six or seven receivers at the most on their 53-man roster.
Which New England Patriots Receivers Will Make The Roster?
The Three Obvious New England Patriots Receivers
There are three apparent players that you can point to right now and say that they are a shoo-in to be on the roster after August 29th. DeVante Parker, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Kendrick Bourne should all be on the roster barring something catastrophic stopping them. Parker recently signed a two-year extension with the Patriots, so cutting him would be strange as he has the identity Bill Belichick loves from his players; he’s quiet and does his job.
Juju Smith-Schuster is here to fill the void left by Jakobi Meyers, and it may be an upgrade from what Meyers was. JSS has looked good in camp after missing the Patriots’ off-season program with an apparent knee injury, but all signs a looking like he will be on the roster this season. Juju leads all first-string receivers in catches with 21 and has caught the most passes from Mac Jones with 19.
Through 12 day of camp, here are your Patriots reception leaders:
Demario Douglas 23
JuJu Smith-Schuster 21
Hunter Henry 21
Rhamondre Stevenson 19
Pierre Strong 19
— Mark Daniels (@ByMarkDaniels) August 8, 2023
Kendrick Bourne looks to have a rebound season, much like the rest of the returning offensive players. Bourne was limited last season as he seemed to be buried by Matt Patricia. Bourne was, if not the top, for sure top three offensive players in 2021-22. He had 800 yards on 55 receptions which is pretty good from your third receiver. The only way Bourne would get cut is if the Patriots would look to save money on the cap to bring in a player who would cost the Patriots a lot of money on the cap.
A player who has made heads turn throughout training camp is Demario Douglas. The rookie out of Liberty has put on an absolute clinic, to the point where he is seeing legitimate first-team reps in 11-on-11s. He leads all Patriots receivers in catches with 23 in 11-on-11s. The real thing that has separated him so far is his lateral quickness. His ability to break on routes and make cuts to get open has been fantastic to watch. Although he has done most of his damage with the second team, he is still going up against guys fighting for a spot, so it’s more impressive in that sense because the physicality and competition levels are higher. At this point, Demario Douglas should make the team. He could be called upon at some point to be a playmaker for the Patriots this season too.
Demario Douglas looks downright UNGUARDABLE 😳
Douglas’s route combinations have reportedly proven to be “nearly impossible” for some Patriots CB’s to cover.
Douglas’ 23 receptions so far at camp lead ALL Patriots players.
Douglas is reportedly already seeing “plenty” of reps… pic.twitter.com/kdp3Y8cTxm
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) August 8, 2023
Fellow rookie receiver Kayshon Boutte has been in the mix with the second team but has yet to perform to the level of Douglas. Although Boutte has not had the production during camp, he has made the play of the camp. NBC Boston’s Phil Perry describes the play the best.”Running to his left along the back of the end zone, Malik Cunningham floated a pass in his direction that sailed high and behind Boutte. No problem. Boutte leaped and reached back with one hand to reel in the highlight-reel reception.”
Boutte has all the physical features you want from an athletic receiver. It will be his consistency and health that will decide how he performs at the next level. In three years in Baton Rouge, he had 131 catches for 1782 yards and 16 touchdowns. He played at the highest level of college football and dominated at times when healthy. As he won’t be double-covered like in college, Boutte could become a productive player if he sees time.
— Patriots on CLNS (@PatriotsCLNS) August 7, 2023
The thing with Douglas and Boutte is they will likely be involved in special teams in some way. They will have to buy their time there and impress when called upon. Their performances in the pre-season will go a long way to proving how they can contribute in the regular season.
What’s Going On With Tyquan Thornton?
Tyquon Thornton is the most significant question mark here. Although he likely will not be cut, he has yet to perform as many wished. Thornton was good at the start of camp, but as pads were introduced, Thornton has become less of a factor. He has eight catches throughout camp, all but one from Bailey Zappe. He has struggled when he has to go up for the contested balls the most.
on the @985TheSportsHub
Patriots Podcast today for a look ahead to Thursday night's preseason matchup – including the looming battle between Tyquan Thornton, Demario Douglas, and Kayshon Boutte.
— Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth) August 9, 2023
We’ll likely see him against Houston as he continues to fight for his place on the depth chart. Ultimately, his spot on the roster is not in question. He had an okay rookie season after sustaining an injury in camp last year. The thing is, how has he improved from last season? He is the Patriot’s only speed threat down the field, but he needs to improve his physicality. He can start stringing together stronger performances as August moves along to help secure his spot within the depth chart.
Main Photo: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports