It's not often that sixth-round picks generate significant excitement on draft night. Even the most famous sixth-round pick of all-time failed to create any buzz, and that seemed to work out all right for Tom Brady.
While no one is expecting that kind of meteoric rise, there was more than the normal amount of enthusiasm among Patriots fans when Bill Belichick called Kayshon Boutte's name with the 187th pick.
The reason Boutte was buzzworthy on draft weekend is potential. The 5-11, 195-pound wide receiver out of LSU is full of it, and as recently as two years ago Boutte was considered a possible first-round pick after a terrific season as a true freshman in 2020.
He arrived in Baton Rouge as the No. 2 receiver in the 2020 recruiting class, and soon after found himself thrust into a prominent role when Justin Jefferson left for the NFL and JaMarr Chase chose to sit out the season to prepare for the draft. That left Boutte as the top option, and he failed to disappoint.
He played in all 10 games and caught 45 passes for 735 yards and five touchdowns in a magical season that ended in record fashion. Against Ole Miss, Boutte set SEC records with 14 catches for 308 yards while adding three touchdowns.
Heading into his sophomore season, it seemed like the sky was the limit. Boutte racked up nine touchdown grabs over the first six weeks, but then he suffered a serious ankle injury and missed the final seven games. The problems with the broken ankle were further complicated when it didn't heal correctly, leading to a second surgery.
Since then, Boutte's production has plateaued, and his effort was called into question at times by first-year Tigers coach Brian Kelly, who arrived from Notre Dame prior to the 2022 season. Kelly called him out publicly in an effort to regain his previous form, but he wound up leaving LSU on shaky terms and did not suit up for the team's bowl game.
Still, not many sixth-round picks enter the league with Boutte's talent. Although he's considered primarily a slot receiver, he does have the versatility to perform on the outside as well. And his ability to pick up yards after the catch is outstanding. He's a physical runner with the ball in his hands, and he possesses the open-field instincts to turn short throws into big plays, which he did frequently during his freshman season when he averaged over 16 yards per reception.
"I would describe my game as competitive," Boutte said after being selected. "Every time I go out on the field, I have that mindset that I've got to dominate no matter who is in front of me. That's my main focus and how I would describe my game."
He also has enough self-awareness to understand why a player of his ability was still available on Day 3 of the draft, and he appears to be ready to put that stage of his career behind him.
"Personally, my college career was good, but it could have been better. That's how I feel about it," Boutte said when asked about his struggles at LSU. "I am motivated more than ever probably. It's a blessing. It's a blessing that I made it to the NFL and got drafted by the Patriots. It's what every kid dreams of."
With the Patriots, Belichick has proven time and again that he won't be as interested in the past but instead will focus on how Boutte performs while in Foxborough. With a corps of receivers that includes DeVante Parker, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton at the top, Boutte should have an opportunity to create a role for himself.
The same could be said of fellow sixth-round pick Demario Douglas, who showcased some intriguing skills working out of the slot during his career at Liberty. While that pair should get the chance to find roster spots, if things work out well for one or both it could make a veteran expendable down the road.
But that's a conversation for another day, and now Boutte just wants to prepare for a fresh start with the Patriots and to put his struggles in the rearview mirror.
"I would say that I want everyone to know that I am a hard worker and that I'm going to give 100 percent," Boutte said. "I feel like I have been doubted a lot. I feel like it's time for me to prove that I'm not that same person."
Patriots Draft Pick Profile
Strengths: Versatility to play inside and outside. … Has the ability to stretch the field. … Solid blend of size and speed. … Separates well on crossing routes. … Biggest strength is his ability to pick up YAC. … Great vision as a ball carrier. … Capable of hitting home runs on short throws. … Adjusts well when the ball is in the air. … Will use physicality to create space.
Weaknesses: Questions about his effort and maturity dogged him at LSU. … Lack of consistency and focus led to occasional drops. … Route-running can be predictable. … Significant injury concerns with right ankle that required two surgeries following initial fracture in 2021. … Lacks precision in his routes. … Needs to be stronger when catching the ball away from his body.
Personal: Attended Westgate High School in New Iberia, Louisiana. … Earned Under Armor All-American honors in 2019. … Son, Kylan, was born September 22, 2022. … Ran track at Westgate, finishing third at the 2019 indoor state championships in the 60 meters (6.90) and 400 meters (50.87). … Was the No. 2 wide receiver in the 2020 recruiting class. … Twitter handle is @KayshonBoutte1.
Comparable NFL player: WR Terrace Marshall, Carolina – Fellow LSU wideout has similar size and play-making ability.
By the numbers
|Combine Position Average
|40 Yards: 4.50
|Bench (225): DNP
|Vertical Jump: 29.0
|Long Jump: 9-10
What they're saying ...
"First season under Brian Kelly was a roadblock for Boutte's development … but there's a playmaker to be groomed if Boutte buys in." – NFL.com's Eric Edholm
View photos of Patriots sixth round pick, wide receiver Kayshon Boutte in action at LSU.