Who Will Be the Patriots' OTA ‘Star' of 2023?

Who will be the Patriots' OTA 'star' of 2023? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

New England Patriots OTAs are underway with their first open session now scheduled for Wednesday, May 31.

That means next week, Pats reporters will get their first glimpse at how the 2023 team functions. While OTAs don't mean much in the grand scheme of things, they will present an opportunity to see the team's newcomers in action, players taking the next step in their development, and how the new-look coaching staff operates.

On a new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran was joined by Phil Perry, Mike Giardi, and Andrew Callahan to discuss who they believe will be the "star" of Pats OTAs this year.

Patriots Talk: Who will be the Patriots’ OTA ‘star’ of 2023? | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Giardi is going with a young wideout.

"Well, I'm going to take a second-year guy. And I not only think it's going to be him, but I kind of think it better be him. Tyquan Thornton," he said.

"You run a 4.3 40. You showed us flashes last spring, summer, and then a couple of moments during the season. Although by the end of the year, you were still running wrong routes. Like, you've been here now long enough. You have this crazy athleticism. They (used) a second-round pick on you last year.

"Like, I want him to be dominant. I want him to run away from Marcus Jones and Jonathan Jones. Like, show me, because they addressed the wide receiver position only slightly. I think they're hoping for a big bump from him. I want to see it and I want to see it starting with OTAs."

Callahan also picked a second-rounder, but on the other side of the ball.

"I'm going to go with Josh Uche. And this is because he gets build and buzz from us in the first week of training camp, OTAs, minicamp every single year," Callahan said. "He realized that potential last year. Also just a very nice guy, which never hurts. But he's also going against Trent Brown, Calvin Anderson, Riley Reiff, and Conor McDermott. Every single one of those, save for maybe a toss up with Trent Brown, that's advantage Josh Uche and it's extra advantage when they can't punch him in the chest to try to stop him. He's got all the speed and all the scouting cliches that you need."

Curran: It's a three-horse race to become the Patriots' third-down back

Perry went with rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas, whom the Patriots selected out of Liberty in the sixth round of the 2022 draft. He also stole Curran's pick of second-year running back Pierre Strong, so Curran went with another potential third-down back.

"I'll just go to Jimmy (James) Robinson," Curran said. "I think time on Ty Montgomery is, to be frank, pissing up a rope to think he's going to make it into the season and contribute. He just doesn't do that. I think his high of 26 catches over the last six years came in 2019. It's just, he gets hurt. He's promising, but James Robinson, who was a 1,400 yards from scrimmage guy for Jacksonville a couple of years ago, can catch the ball, can run with the ball."

Also discussed in the episode: Will Bill Belichick leave Bill O’Brien and the offense alone? How can the media give an accurate picture of what goes down at OTAs? And breaking down the Mac Jones vs. Bailey Zappe "competition."

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network, or watch on YouTube.

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