After an 8-9 debacle of a season last year, New England fans are cautiously optimistic heading into the 2023 campaign. The page has been turned with Bill O’Brien taking at offensive coordinator, which should lead to better results this fall.
While some players were held back by injuries or poor coaching last year, there is hope that some of those players will step up and be key contributors this year. The Patriots will certainly need their share of breakouts if they want to keep pace in a stacked AFC East.
With that in mind, here are three Patriots players who are ready to break out in 2023.
3 Patriots Breakout Candidates 2023
1. Tyquan Thornton
Drafted in the second round in 2022 (50th overall), Thornton turned heads during training camp last year with his blazing speed. There were hopes that he could boost the offense as a poor man’s Tyreek Hill, but those never materialized.
Thornton suffered a collarbone injury during a preseason game and missed the first four weeks of the season. By the time he made his NFL debut in Week 5, he seemed out of sync with the offense (as did most of his teammates) and never really got going. He finished with just 22 catches on 45 targets for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Now that he has a full year of NFL experience under his belt and a full offseason to get on the same page with Mac Jones, Thornton should be considerably better in Year 2. Nobody’s expecting him to dominate, but he has the potential to be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in this offense. He should wind up with much better numbers than last year and gives New England’s offense an explosive playmaker who can take the top off a defense.
Last year was a false start for Thornton, but this year we should see what he’s really capable of.