ESPN Unveils Patriots' Most Underrated Player to Watch for 2024

Who should fans be taking note of on the New England Patriots next season?
Jun 12, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA;  New England Patriots wide receiver K.J. Osborn (2) tracks the ball at minicamp at Gillette Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 12, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver K.J. Osborn (2) tracks the ball at minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Entering into the upcoming 2024 NFL season, the wide receiver room remains a focal point of conversation when discussing how the New England Patriots will fare after a shaky previous campaign.

In 2023, the Patriots failed to have a receiver that secured over 600 yards on the season, an ugly feat that hasn't been seen in the franchise within over 30 years. For this squad to see some much-needed strides forward on the offensive side of the football, some of New England's weapons will have to hone into a larger role.

Of those players on New England's roster that could see a step up in the offense for 2024, K.J. Osborn may be a name to watch. ESPN labeled the offseason addition as the most significant "non-starter to know" during next season, noting the potential for the veteran pass-catcher to have a big part in the passing game:

Receiver K.J. Osborn. The Patriots' receiving room is a bit of a mess, so you can expect some run for this former Vikings slot receiver and fifth-year veteran. His receiving DVOA has dropped a bit in each of his NFL seasons, and the ESPN receiver tracking metrics had him close to the bottom of the league in catch score last season. If he can't hold on to the ball, he won't be doing Maye (or Brissett) any favors.

Aaron Schatz, ESPN

Osborn was brought in from the Minnesota Vikings earlier this spring after spending the past four seasons there. Last year, he posted totals of 48 receptions, 540 yards, and three touchdowns, elevating as one of the premier options in the Vikings' offensive unit.

For the Patriots, bringing Osborn into the fold could be a massive boost for Drake Maye or Jacoby Brissett. New England significantly lacked that receiver production and depth last year, and we saw how impactful that was to the performance of this offense entirely. The quarterback position was a mess as is, and the abysmal pass-catching situation added chaos along with it.

This coming season should see some positive changes for the Patriots, though. By adding two high-potential pass catchers in Ja'Lynn Polk and Javon Baker during the draft, along with the progression of second-year receiver Pop Douglas, whoever will be dishing passes in Foxboro will be set up for much more success than we saw in 2023.

Simply put, the only way is up for the Patriots next season.


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Jared Koch

JARED KOCH