ESPN may be casting doom and gloom on the Patriots with their latest quarterback-wide receiver combination rankings, but there are plenty of reasons to believe this team will win. From Mac Jones to Kendrick Bourne, there are five players with plenty of reasons to discount the ranking. Here's a look at each of the five best players on the New England Patriots' offense going into 2021.
New England Patriots: 5 players raising the stakes in 2021
#1 - Jonnu Smith, TE
Last year, the Patriots' starting tight end was Ryan Izzo. Izzo was a seventh-round draft pick who had under 200 yards of total offense. The Patriots are expecting to see improvement this year at the position with Jonnu Smith. Smith has averaged more than 450 yards of offense and six touchdowns across the last two years.
#2 - Hunter Henry, TE
It wasn't enough to sign just one tight end. They added another top-tier free agent talent in Hunter Henry from Los Angeles. The tight end is currently dealing with some injuries, but once he is 100 percent healthy, he could surpass Jonnu Smith. Over the last two years, Henry has averaged 632 yards each season and scored nine touchdowns. He'll be a massive upgrade in addition to Jonnu Smith.
#3 - Mac Jones, QB
Mac Jones is still a rookie who is yet to play his first snaps in a true NFL game. That said, the preseason showed him to be accurate. He also avoided classic rookie mistakes for most of the three games. Jones chased NFC champion Cam Newton out the door. If that wasn't an endorsement from the Patriots, who had Tom Brady, what is?
#4 - Kendrick Bourne, WR
The Patriots' top receiver last season was Damiere Byrd, who earned 604 yards and a touchdown. Kendrick Bourne is listed as third on the Patriots' depth chart and is coming from a running team in San Francisco. He caught 49 passes for 667 yards and two touchdowns. If Bourne can repeat those statistics in 2021, the Patriots will have found a new top receiver.
#5 - Nelson Agholor, WR
Nelson Agholor's drops have been an issue for most of his career. However, it cannot be glossed over that he had 48 catches for 896 yards and eight touchdowns last season. If the Patriots get that kind of production this year, the passing offense will feel much different when combined with Kendrick Bourne.