Devin McCourty explains why he liked Patriots drafting WR Ja’Lynn Polk

Devin McCourty explains why he liked Patriots drafting WR Ja’Lynn Polk originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots entered the offseason with a lot of work to do at wide receiver.

A lack of true difference makers at the position has been a problem for the Patriots for several years, and it’s among the reasons why the offense was tied for last in scoring last season at 13.8 points per game.

The Patriots didn’t do much to upgrade their wide receiver depth chart in free agency in March. The only notable outside addition was KJ Osborn, who could be a really useful player for the Patriots but isn’t a true No. 1 at the position.

If the Patriots are going to find a true No. 1 from within, it might come from one of the two wideouts they took in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Patriots selected Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk in the second round (No. 37 overall) and UCF’s Javon Baker in the fourth round (No. 110 overall).

On the latest episode of NBC Sports Boston’s Patriots Talk Podcast, three-time Super Bowl champion Devin McCourty talked about why he liked the Polk pick in particular, and not just for on-field reasons. McCourty sees Polk as someone who could emerge as a real leader for the wide receiver group.

“I think New England in that wide receiver room, they said, ‘OK, as we look up, we don’t have a young leader. Like, we don’t have a young guy that we’re saying, ‘All right, this is our future. We want other guys to follow him.’ And I think because Tyler Hughes was at the University of Washington with Polk, I think he was able to speak to that, ‘Hey, if we get this guy in a room, he is going to set the example,'” McCourty said.

“I said it back in March last year. Jakobi Meyers was going to be that guy for them. They lost him. He goes to the Raiders. You lost (Julian) Edelman a year before. Like, you need a guy that when other guys come in, they say, ‘OK, that’s how I’m successful.’ And I think Polk fits that for them now as they try to create just more leadership overall on the whole offensive side of the ball.”

Hunter Henry, David Andrews. Those guys have to now step into that. Rhamondre (Stevenson) has to become more of a vocal leader. He has to do all those things yet to be seen. I think Kendrick Bourne being around and being there full time, I think he has great leadership traits, strictly energy, what he brings day in and day out. The whole offense can say, we need to be like KB. But I think they’re trying to find more of that across the board.”

“You need every position group to have different guys to look to, to say, ‘OK, if it’s getting hard, what do I do? If we’re winning right now, how do I continue to be consistent? You need people to help people become pros and you can’t have every player like that. That’s why I liked Polk.”

The Patriots have lost most of their core leaders from their recent Super Bowl teams. Leaders such as Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, James White, Dont’a Hightower, Matthew Slater and McCourty have all left the team and/or retired in recent years.

All of the players listed above were drafted and developed by the Patriots. It’s possible to acquire leaders with outside additions, but it’s often best to develop them from within.

Polk’s immense on-field talent and potential as a leader make him one of the most interesting players to watch once training camp begins in the summer. He could play a major role for the Patriots on and off the field during his rookie campaign.

Also in this episode:

  • Devin McCourty on what makes a good rookie in the NFL

  • Why Ja’Lynn Polk will be a good locker room fit

  • How the Patriots should handle Drake Maye’s rookie season

  • Dev’s favorite Patriots picks in the draft

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