Patriots rookie WR Demario Douglas listed as a potential ‘Breakout Player of the Year’

Patriots

“This guy, ‘Pop’ Douglas? He’s a part of the offensive game plan.”

New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas catching a pass during practice on the Gillette Stadium practice field.
Demario Douglas has turned heads since the start of training camp. Matthew J. Lee / Globe Staff

Demario Douglas’ stock continues to rise in NFL circles.

The Patriots wide receiver and 2023 sixth-round pick likely shored up his spot on the Patriots’ 53-man roster early into training camp after consistently dominating during team drills and earning first-round reps with Mac Jones.

But Fox Sports writer and NFL Network broadcaster Peter Schrager believes that the rookie wideout is more than just a pleasant surprise on New England’s depth chart.

As is the case at the end of every August since 2018, Schrager revealed his annual “Top 10 Breakout Players of the Year” list during Wednesday’s “Good Morning Football” show on NFL Network.

He tabbed Douglas with the No. 5 spot on his list, lauding Douglas’ ankle-breaking skillset and stop-and-start acceleration.

“These are the moves he’s been putting on all camp,” Schrager said of one of Douglas’ receptions during New England’s preseason game against Green Bay back on Aug. 19. “Number 81 — The old Antonio Brown number. …Had four different quarterbacks at Liberty, including Malik Willis, and yet still put up monster numbers in every one of those offensive seasons.

“The Patriots coaching staff had him in the East-West Shrine game and they were like, ‘Keep that quiet.’ Drafted him in the sixth round and the track star like he is right there — 22-years-old, sixth-round pick, two-time leader in receptions and receiving yards in college, 2021 and 2022.”

Of course, Douglas still likely sits at least fourth or fifth on New England’s depth chart at wideout, with JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, and Kendrick Bourne ahead of him.

But Schrager believes that Douglas will factor heavily into New England’s offensive scheme this season, especially after the Patriots opted to limit how much tape teams could compile of the rookie during preseason reps.

“’Pop’ Douglas, sixth-round pick, and you’re like, ‘Well, what about that wide receivers room? Where does he fit in?’ Just keep an eye on him,” Schrager said. “Keep an eye on him. And now what’s the expectation? 100 catches? No. But if you’re gonna be watching the Patriots, just know that this guy, ‘Pop’ Douglas? He’s a part of the offensive game plan.

“They’ve been keeping him quiet a little bit. He’s had great practices. Maybe not a national name yet, certainly not being drafted in your fantasy leagues. But when you make the breakout players list, it doesn’t come from me just throwing stuff at the wall. This comes from intel inside every organization. ‘Pop’ Douglas makes the list at No. 5.”

As the Patriots look to right the ship following a dysfunctional 2022 campaign, having a fleet-footed pass-catcher like Douglas added to the mix should help a Patriots offense set to dial up plenty of screens, RPOs and short-yardage throws this fall.


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