Nate Burleson says Kendrick Bourne is primed for a breakout 2021 season

NFL Network's Nate Burleson predicts Bourne could put up career-highs in receiving yards in 2021 -- and that Cam Newton will be his starting quarterback Week 1.

Kendrick Bourne Patriots
Kendrick Bourne makes a catch during OTAs last Friday. Mary Schwalm/AP
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When people talk about the drastic changes to the Patriots receiving corps this offseason, the names of Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, and Nelson Agholor tend to come up before Kendrick Bourne.

But one former NFL receiver believes Bourne is a dark horse candidate for a breakout 2021 season for the Patriots.

Good Morning Football co-host and 11-year NFL veteran Nate Burleson listed Bourne among his top-five breakout wide receivers Monday morning a year after Bourne put up the best numbers of his career with the San Francisco 49ers.

“He has made a name for himself. Right out the gate, we knew he was special in San Francisco, and that’s why the Patriots were aggressive when they went after him.

“Now the Patriots, they didn’t have a wide receiver to have three or more touchdowns last season, so the offense was inept to say the least…but now that they have playmakers at the wide receiver and tight end position, I know Kendrick Bourne is going to eclipse his career highs. 49 catches, 667 receiving yards, that’s nothing compared to what he will do in this offense.”

Bourne made several noticeable plays at OTAs last Friday, hauling in a deep comeback throw from Jarrett Stidham and elevating over a defender to snag a high throw from Brian Hoyer against tight coverage.

The four-year veteran receiver also has a clear connection with Cam Newton, feeding off the quarterback’s boisterous energy in practice.

Still, there’s no ironclad guaranteed Newton will be the man throwing Bourne passes throughout the 2021 season. Many expect rookie first-round pick Mac Jones to push the former MVP for the starting quarterback job when training camp begins.


Jones and Stidham will especially get a chance to make their cases with Newton out momentarily with a bone bruise on his throwing hand.

While Burleson acknowledged the Patriots quarterback situation was far from assured, he did have a prediction: “I say it’s Cam Newton throwing [Bourne] the ball, and he will put up close to 800 yards this season.”

Bourne himself has already ingratiated himself to New England fans, stating last week he “would love to be here for a long time and finish here.”

“It was a no-brainer to come here. How much they believed in me and appreciated my play style was just awesome in and of itself,” he said. “The way they accept me as I am, I just appreciate it. It would seem like the type of place where you can’t be so goofy or excited or how I am, but they let me be the way I am because they know I play best that way.”

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