The New England Patriots drafted 12 players in Kansas City in the 2023 NFL draft and time will tell if they did well or rolled snake eyes.
They’ll probably do a bit of both. But one interesting facet is always the Patriots’ later-round picks. Somehow, they seem to be able to maximize those picks and find true diamonds in the rough.
One, of course, was a certain No. 12, Mr. Tom Brady who was a sixth-round pick in 2000. Brady just happens to be the best who ever played the position and did OK for himself and the team for about two decades.
Another was a quarterback drafted in the seventh round from Kent State, a certain Julian Edelman. He’s a lock Patriots Hall of Famer (and should be a Pro Football Hall member, as well).
At least one sixth-rounder taken last month is worth another look. That’s wide receiver Kayshon Boutte from LSU.
New England Patriots may have struck sixth-round gold
Boutte is a polarizing prospect from whom a lot was expected but not much was delivered at LSU. The wide receiver has good size at 6’0″ and 185 pounds but had another underwhelming season for the Tigers in 2022.
He caught 48 for 538 yards and only two TDs. That’s not uber-productive. He also had a rather disappointing combine. So why is he a candidate to surprise?
Well, in revisiting an on-hand draft publication, it was startling to see how one significant publication rated Boutte. It had him rated not just as a high pick, but as a first-round pick and the No. One WR prospect in the draft. That was a real surprise.
Now these publications can be all over the lot, but having even one listing a sixth-round pick as a first-round talent is cause for a second look.
Former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk had coached at LSU when Boutte was there and he likes the player. He reacted to concerns or “red flags” about the player.
The Boston Herald’s Karen Gureghian cites Faulk:
"“All I can tell you is I don’t know where that came from. Because when I was with that kid, he was very coachable,” Faulk said. “When you say a kid’s not coachable, that means a coach can’t relate to who the kid is as a player. That’s all that is to me.”"
That notwithstanding, the Pats did the right thing in the sixth round. It’s a classic hit-or-miss pick, exactly what a team should be doing late in the draft.
New England Patriots invested little but may get a nice return
Boutte has already demonstrated a nice sense of maturity as he was the first New England Patriots draft pick to sign a contract.
He realizes he’s been handed a golden opportunity and wants to get to work to show he belongs. That’s as good as it gets to begin a career anywhere in the NFL never mind in Foxborough.
Here’s part of what nfl.com had to say about Boutte:
"Boutte’s size, speed and flashes over his first two seasons could be enough to override a very uneven 2022. He has inside/outside value and can be just as adept at uncovering underneath as he can at stretching the field… He’s talented with the ball in his hands and has playmaking potential if he reverts to his previous form. Boutte could work his way into an eventual WR2/3 role barring any further issues with his right ankle."
Seem to remember a Patriots running back who had an ankle injury and dropped to the third round a while ago. His name was Curtis Martin and he’s now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Can we expect the same from Boutte? That’s probably unlikely. Yet, you just never know in the NFL when a late-round pick will surprise.
Boutte will be a player to keep a sharp eye on in the preseason. He just might be a whole lot better than his college stats indicated, especially if his injury concerns are over. We’ll see how it works out.