For the fourth-straight year, the New England Patriots did not select a wide receiver in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft despite ongoing passing game struggles. That could change in 2024 with Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy garnering first-round interest.
The Draft Network projected the Patriots’ selection of Worthy with the No. 14 pick in its “way-too-early 2024 NFL mock draft”. NBC Sports Philadelphia also predicted the Patriots’ choice of Worthy, only at pick No. 9, in its “way-too-early” mock draft.
“Very slightly built but very talented receiver who would add some juice to a Patriots offense that hasn’t ranked higher than 15th since 2018, when you-know-who was still there,” NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Rueben Frank wrote.
“He stands 6-1, 165 pounds but has world-class speed – he may run sub-4.3 at the Combine next year – and plays tougher than his size,” Frank added. “He’s outstanding tracking deep balls and also has punt return ability. His size may scare some teams away, but he has unique traits and production that should put him in the first half of the first round.”
Xavier Worth Stood Out in Texas Star Bijan Robinson’s Shadow
Worthy played in a Longhorns offense that featured running back Bijan Robinson, who went No. 4 in this year’s draft to the Atlanta Falcons. Despite not being the go-to playmaker, Worthy tallied 122 receptions for 1,741 yards and 21 touchdowns during the past two seasons.
Worthy also did well as punt and kick returner thus far with the Longhorns. He returned 18 kicks with a 10.7 yards per return average in two seasons, and he averaged 16.5 yards per punt return in 2021.
According to NFLDraftBuzz.com‘s scouting report, Worthy is “at his best working space” whether on pass plays or returns. He also “has elite balance tight-roping the sideline in in-and-out of his breaks” per NFLDraftBuzz.com. The scouting report added that Worthy had “problems with drops when coming back to the action” and struggled with press coverage defense.
Whether or not the Patriots need to target Worthy in 2024 remains to be seen, but the Patriots didn’t draft a receiver until the sixth round this year. That’s after the team lost two quality receivers in Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor to free agency this offseason. The Patriots only added JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency.
Patriots Explain Taking Two Receivers in Sixth Round
New England selected LSU’s Kayshon Boutte with the No. 187 pick and Liberty’s Demario Douglas with the No. 210 pick on April 29. Boutte caught 131 passes for 1,782 yards and 16 touchdowns in three seasons for the Tigers. Douglas tallied 172 receptions for 2,193 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Flames in four years.
Patriots director of player personnel Matt Goh explained that “those two guys kind of complement each other as well” after the draft on April 29. The Patriots drafted 11 players overall with two at wideout.
“Boutte has played inside. He’s played outside. Douglas has done a little bit of the same and then in between them,” Groh told reporters.
Both could crack the 53-man roster this year. After Smith-Schuster, the Patriots only have two receivers who went over 30 receptions and 400 yards in 2022. That’s DeVante Parker, who missed four games due to injury, and Kendrick Bourne, who started only twice all season.