This ‘Electric’ Patriots Draft Pick Used Marcus Jones As Model

Demario Douglas could play a similar role in New England's offense


Apr 30, 2023

There aren’t many 5-foot-8, 179-pound wide receivers in the NFL. So, when Demario Douglas wanted to watch players with his stature and skill set, his options were limited.

There were a few undersized wideouts he keyed in on, though. Elijah Moore was one. Greg Dortch, too. But Douglas’ favorite to study just so happens to be his new Patriots teammate: Marcus Jones.

Douglas, whom the Patriots selected in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, said he’s watched Jones “from afar since college,” when the latter was a three-way star at Houston, playing defensive back, wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner. Jones went on to play all four of those positions as a Patriots rookie and became the first player in more than 45 years to record a receiving touchdown, a kick/punt-return touchdown and a pick-six in the same season.

“He plays everywhere,” Douglas said in his introductory conference call. “… He just can do it all. That’s how I was in high school. In high school, I played everything. I wish I could’ve done it in college, but hey. Then watching him actually do that at the highest level is amazing.”

The Patriots aren’t likely to try Douglas out at cornerback, and it’s hard to imagine him unseating Jones as the top punt returner after he just earned first-team All-Pro honors last season, even if Douglas does have two punt-return touchdowns on his collegiate résumé. But New England could look to utilize the Liberty product similarly to how it used Jones during his offensive cameos.

Douglas doesn’t have much bulk — the Patriots list him at 5-8, 175, identical to Jones’ measurables — and he didn’t test nearly as well in short-area quickness and change-of-direction drill as previous New England slot receivers like Julian Edelman. But he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds, has great leaping ability for his size and was an elusive playmaker with the ball in his hands in college. Douglas ranked seventh among receivers in his draft class in forced missed tackles per reception, per Sports Info Solutions.

The driving force of Liberty’s passing game last season, Douglas finished with 79 catches for 993 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games. No other teammate caught more than 25 passes.

“One word, I’d say electric,” Douglas said when asked to describe his game. “I’d say I can do it all. I can play inside, I can play outside, and then I also add value to special teams, punt return, kick return.”

The Patriots spent a week working with Douglas at the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl, where he was part of the New England-coached West Team. A team-released video from practice showed him receiving some on-field coaching points from wide receivers coach Troy Brown.

Matt Groh, the Patriots’ director of player personnel, said they were high on Douglas before the Shrine Bowl and were excited when he was assigned to their team. He said the same for UCLA guard Atonio Mafi, a fellow Shrine Bowl alum whom New England drafted in Round 5.

“That just kind of further solidified our feelings on the players after spending a week with them,” Groh said in his post-draft video conference.

Douglas was one of two wide receivers the Patriots selected in the sixth round Saturday. The other was LSU’s Kayshon Boutte, a former five-star recruit and projected first-round prospect whose stock cratered after a dysfunctional 2022 season and a poor showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. The two rookies will compete for roster spots in a receiving corps that features JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton, Tre Nixon and Lynn Bowden.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
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