Troy Brown, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and now DeMario Douglas? The New England Patriots have shredded opposing defenses over their two decades of dominance with superior production at the slot receiver position. In reshaping the offense going forward, besides the quarterback position and offensive line, solidifying a player in that position is an important building block.
In just his first season with the Patriots, it would be unfair to put “Pop” Douglas in the same category as players like Brown, Welker and Edelman, but based on the talent he brings to the table and what he has shown in a Patriots’ offense that lacks offensive weapons, it’s hard not to think of the sixth-round pick out of Liberty as the next slot star receiver in New England.
Through Week 16, Douglas has 44 receptions for 517 yards. He doesn’t have a touchdown reception, but his quickness, shiftiness and ability to separate in tight spaces has made Douglas a go to guy for Bailey Zappe in the Patriots’ offense over the last couple weeks. Even when Mac Jones was behind center, the rookie receiver has been a viable target which says a lot for a rookie in this offense, especially a rookie wide receiver drafted by Bill Belichick.
Patriots rookie wide receiver DeMario Douglas flourishing as a Bill Belichick draft pick
Coming in as a late-round pick, Douglas has both met and exceeded expectations, but he knows it’s just the start.
“It’s a blessing, but I feel like I ain’t done yet,” Douglas told Patriots.com writer Evan Lazar this week. “I have a lot of work to do. But it’s a little stepping stone, you know? I’m trying to be a great, and I just have to keep stacking days and getting better. Don’t let up.”
What’s impressive about Douglas is that he’s been able to be successful despite a slow start and missing a couple games this season due to a concussion. He has also been able to be a factor in an offense without stability at the quarterback position. Just imagine Douglas catching the ball from Tom Brady like wide receivers coach Troy Brown late in his career.
Speaking of Brown, the Patriots legend who was known for his quickness and savviness, praised Douglas for his ability to improve throughout the season.
“I just think he’s continually developed his savviness and his ability to play inside. Everything doesn’t always have to be at full speed all the time. Just developing a good sense of how to play in the slot. He’s continued to get better at that,” Brown said, via Patriots.com. “He’s confident. He believes in himself, and that’s half the battle to go in there and play well.”
As for any rookie or new player trying to adapt to the Patriots playbook, Brown went on to acknowledge Douglas has had to adjust to how things are done in New England. Not only has he embraced each learning opportunity, but he has also excelled by approaching the game with a “great attitude.” In all, he just has the makings of player who will have success going forward.
With the team positioned for a top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, if a quarterback is selected, they will come in with a player in Douglas as a nice target as the slot position is really what makes the Patriots’ offense go…at least that is what recent history has told us.