The New England Patriots entered the 2023 NFL Draft with a need at the wide receiver position, but it took them until the sixth round to address it. When they finally did, they brought in an immensely-talented player who never quite lived up to his potential in college.
Now in New England, the hope is that Kayshon Boutte can do that. If so, the Patriots might just have gotten themselves a steal for the modest price of the 187th overall pick in the draft.
They themselves know that as well.
“It’s really going to be up to him to come in here with the right mindset,” Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh said in a conference call after draft . “He’s got all the potential in the world. If he wants to apply himself and to reach that potential, we are going to do everything we can to help him succeed. We’re going to give him every resource we can.”
Boutte arrived at LSU as a five-star recruit and the No. 2 wide receiver in the 2020 class. He quickly showed what he could do: in 10 games as a freshman, he caught 45 passes for five touchdowns and a team-leading 735 yards (i.e. more than Terrace Marshall Jr., who left school that spring and got drafted in the second round).
For as much promise as Boutte showed, he failed to build on it. He had 38 catches for 509 yards and nine scores the next year, followed by a 48-538-2 stat-line the year after.
Along the way, there were injuries as well as questions about his focus and maturity. He was an enigma, and for one reason or another never failed to put it all together and become the next great LSU wide receiver he was destined to be.
His decision to leave school as a junior was therefore also a curious one, and he followed it up with a disappointing showing at the Scouting Combine. It did allowe the Patriots to scoop him in the sixth-round, though.
“As the saying goes, players are our greatest resource,” said Groh. “We made an investment in Kayshon here in the sixth round, so looking forward to see what he can do with his opportunity.”
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound wideout knows that the pressure to the perform is on him, especially given where he landed.
“They are a hard-working team. They have a lot of pride in handling their business and getting better each day. It’s kind of the main thing I’m going to focus on,” he said about the Patriots when introduced on Saturday night. “I just have to focus on myself. It’s more about making sure that I am 100 percent putting in the work every day to get to where I want to be.”
The Patriots are not counting on him to come in and light the world on fire right away; he is a sixth-round pick after all and therefore not even guaranteed a spot on the team come this fall. However, getting something out of him would certainly be a welcome development.
While the team has three established players (JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne) plus a promising sophomore (Tyquan Thornton) atop the depth chart, the depth behind them is shallow. This also means there is an opportunity for players to earn a role, and Boutte appears to be in a prime position to do that.
“I am motivated more than ever, probably,” he said on Saturday. “It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing that I made it to the NFL and get drafted by the Patriots. It’s what every kid dreams of.”