The New England Patriots couldn’t land DeAndre Hopkins in NFL free agency, which could open the door for a young receiver to step up and shine. So far in training camp, that player is sixth-round draft pick Demario Douglas.
A quick, explosive wide receiver out of Liberty, Douglas has popped so far in training camp with his speed and route running. Two traits that has always catapulted wide receivers in New England when thinking of former Patriots players like Troy Brown, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman.
Speaking of Brown, the former Patriots player and current wide receivers coach knows what it is late to be a late-round pick to find stardom in the NFL. Although impressed with the player, Brown brought the training camp standout down a notch by simply staying patient in realizing Douglas hasn’t proved much yet.
"“I haven’t seen a big enough sample yet,” Brown said when asked about Douglas. “I’ll put him in a bucket with the rest of the rookies.”"
Patriots rookie receiver Demario Douglas a late-round steal?
It seems every training camp there is a young rookie receiver who stands out. By the end of the preseason, that player typically ends up cut or on the practice squad to start the season. So, there is a cause for pause in the Douglas excitement because even the Welker’s, Brown’s and Edelman’s of the world had to right their way onto 53-man rosters by participating in special teams.
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With success returning kickoffs at Liberty, that could be Douglas’ niche with the team in his rookie season, but it is hard to ignore the way he is getting open and the pure speed he has. Simply put, the 5-foot-8 Douglas could be the Patriots latest late-round, undrafted player to shine in the NFL if he keeps trending and creating buzz with coaches and players, particularly Mac Jones who had his own message for the rookie receiver.
"“He was very good in 7-on-7 because he showed quickness so often. He’s always got the separation, but he just has to realize that it’s the NFL and you’ve got to do it every day,” Jones said of Douglas. “He’s going to try his best to do that. I’m proud of him, but he’s also – you know it’s early. We’ve got to keep working.”"
To reiterate what Troy Brown said, there is still a lot for Douglas to prove, a lot still to be seen from the NFL rookie because really knowing if they have something. With another late-round rookie in Kayshon Boutte expected to be the steal of the draft, the Patriots could have two steals in the 2023 NFL Draft.
While Boutte has the higher ceiling, Douglas has the tools to succeed in Foxborough. In other words, Douglas has to block out the hype and just keep doing his thing.