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Kendrick Bourne over Tyreek Hill? ESPN Analytics are high on Pats WR

Kendrick Bourne over Tyreek Hill? ESPN Analytics are high on Pats WR originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots might have a true No. 1 wide receiver for Mac Jones after all.

Kendrick Bourne has been a bright spot for the Patriots offense after being used sparingly last year. With 34 catches, 370 yards, and three touchdowns through the first seven games of this season, the veteran wideout could surpass his 2022 totals (35 catches, 434 yards, one TD) as soon as this Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

Not only has Bourne been the Pats’ most consistent offensive player, but he’s also been among the NFL’s best pass-catchers in 2023, according to ESPN Analytics. ESPN’s tracking data pegs Bourne as the 11th-ranked pass-catcher in the league and No. 1 among qualifiers in the AFC East.

ESPN Analytics takes three categories into account to come up with its overall pass-catcher ratings: Open, Catch, and Yards After Catch. You can check out ESPN’s top 11 pass-catchers in the chart below:

Going by ESPN’s list, Bourne will be the top wide receiver taking the field in Sunday’s Pats-Dolphins showdown. Miami’s superstar wideout Tyreek Hill ranks behind him at No. 16, and Jaylen Waddle is all the way down at No. 52. Bourne’s impressive Yards After Catch rating helped to separate him from the pack.

The rankings weren’t as kind to the rest of New England’s pass-catchers. Tight ends Mike Gesicki and Hunter Henry landed at No. 78 and No. 107, respectively. DeVante Parker ranked No. 101 overall and offseason addition JuJu Smith-Schuster came in dead last at No. 109.

Despite what the rankings say, the Patriots defense will have its hands full against the Dolphins’ passing attack this Sunday. Hill leads the NFL in receiving yards (902) and touchdown receptions (seven). Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who’s 5-0 against the Patriots, leads the league in passing yards (2,092) and is second in TD passes (15).

Bourne figures to be a big part of the gameplan as New England looks to keep up with Miami’s dynamic offense in Week 8. Kickoff for the divisional matchup is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.

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