NFL Analysts Name Their Most Important Skill Players On 2022 Patriots

Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker could be the difference

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Who is the most impactful skill player on the current New England Patriots roster outside of Mac Jones? Good question.

The Patriots have been used to turnover as of late, and the changes on offense, combined with Jones rising into his sophomore season, could create a new dynamic for the upcoming season.

“Kendrick Bourne will be the most important player on the Patriots’ offense in 2022,” NBC Sports’ Tom Caron wrote Friday. “(Non-McCorkle division). Why? Because he?s got the one thing the Patriots have missed since Julian Edelman carried the offense on his back in 2019. Versatility.”

Bourne was a pleasant surprise from a year ago, becoming one of the most reliable pass catchers in the NFL while appearing to become a glue guy off the field.

“Bourne?s not faster than Nelson Agholor but he’s a more productive runner/receiver,” Curran continued. “He didn’t have as many catches as Jakobi Meyers (who had 86 on 133 targets) but he still generated 925 yards from scrimmage compared to Meyers’ 875. Jonnu Smith should be an offensive centerpiece given his skill set and salary but he didn?t spark a lot of optimism with his 2021 performance.

“Near as I can tell, Bourne is their most dynamic offensive player. And now that the Patriots have spent a season witnessing that, they can get in the lab. Which is what Bourne suggested they are doing.”

While Curran is convinced that Bourne will make the biggest impact, his colleague went in a different direction.

“Bourne is due for a sizable statistical jump and a truly impactful season in 2022,” NBC Sports’ Phil Perry wrote. “He has a great rapport with Mac Jones. His versatility should allow him to be deployed creatively by Bill Belichick and his top offensive assistants. He may even end up as their most productive receiver. 

“But he’s not their most important receiver in 2022. That title — and the title of most important offensive player not named Jones — goes to newcomer DeVante Parker.”

The former Miami Dolphin receiver has the most pedigree in the Patriots’ receiver room and provides an upside that the other players have not earned. He can become a true No. 1 receiver in the right situation, assuming his durability, or lack thereof, does not get in the way.

“Hit Parker on a few jump balls and back-shoulder throws — as Jones did this spring in practices — and force a safety to respect him down the field, and suddenly the Patriots will have achieved what they’ve long been looking for on the offensive side of the ball: Force ’em to defend every blade of grass,” Perry continued. “That should open things up for their running game as well as their plethora of short-to-intermediate options like Bourne, Meyers, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.”

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