By Chris Warner
A few years ago over on Patriot Daily, we reviewed Patriots drafts under Bill Belichick round by round. With their 2012 rookie haul showing strong potential – and a different approach in recent draft strategy – it’s time to take another look at April additions since 2000.
This year, New England has five selections overall, one each in Round One, Two and Three and two in the Round Seven. As you’ll see below, that could work out well for the team based on their draft history.
First Round –
2000: None (pick went to NYJ for BB)
2001: Richard Seymour, DL, Georgia
2002: Dan Graham, TE, Colorado
2003: Ty Warren, DL, Texas A&M
2004: Vince Wilfork, DL, Miami; Benjamin Watson, TE, Georgia
2005: Logan Mankins, OL, Fresno State
2006: Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota
2007: Brandon Meriweather, DB, Miami
2008: Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
2009: (No Pick – traded down)
2010: Devin McCourty, DB, Rutgers
2011: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
2012: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse; Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Total Picks: 13
Successful Picks: 11 (sans Maroney, Meriweather)
Most Successful Pick: Seymour
We view Maroney and Meriweather as misses, and – considering both started at certain points – those can be debated. The fact that every Round One pick contributed at some point stands out to us, with most playing at a high level for multiple seasons.
Seymour gets our nod as most successful because, as a higher (sixth overall) selection, there was more room for error. Wilfork remained available at 20, almost forcing the Pats to choose him.
In any case, if you’re New England’s first round pick, chances are you can skip renting and go straight to buying.
Second Round –
2000: Adrian Klemm, OT, Hawaii
2001: Matt Light, OT, Purdue
2002: Deion Branch, WR, Louisville
2003: Eugene Wilson, DB, Illinois; Bethel Johnson, WR, Texas A&M
2004: Marquise Hill, DE, LSU
2005: (No pick)
2006: Chad Jackson, WR, Florida
2007: (No pick – traded for Wes Welker)
2008: Terrence Wheatley, DB, Colorado
2009: Patrick Chung, DB, Oregon; Ron Brace, DT, BC; Darius Butler, DB, UConn; Sebastian Vollmer, OT, Houston
2010: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona; Jermaine Cunningham, DE, Florida; Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida.
2011: Ras-I Dowling, DB, Virginia; Shane Vereen, RB, California
2012: Tavon Wilson, DB, Illinois
Total Picks: 18
Successful Picks: 9 (Light, Branch, Wilson, Chung, Vollmer, Gronkowski, Spikes, Vereen, Wilson)
Most Successful Pick: Light
Hmm. I guess I hoped Dowling could be a solid pick, but what Ras-I thinking? He can’t be rated a success until he can contribute consistently. While Wheatley and Butler flashed for a brief time, both burned out quickly. Chung has faded. This hasn’t been the best round for the Pats to draft defensive backs, but we have hopes for the second Wilson from Illinois and give him the benefit of the doubt here.
Moving from DBs to the guys they cover, the disappointment of Johnson and Jackson still lingers. Million-dollar bodies ruled by ten-cent heads. Can the Patriots find another Branch in Round Two? Do they even want to try?
The drop from Round One belies the Patriots’ contention that second-round selections have similar value. Round Two slots themselves might have some worth (especially when traded for Wes Welker), but New England’s choices have literally been a 50-50 proposition.
Put it this way: in 2012, the Pats picked two late first-rounders (Jones, Hightower), both of whom established themselves as defensive starters. In 2009, New England traded out of the first round and ended up with four players. Two are still with the team with only one (Vollmer) starting.
Though we’re seeing an upward trend in Round Two contributions since 2010, the Pats should stay put in Round One.
Third Round –
2000: J. R. Redmond, RB, Arizona State
2001: Brock Williams, DB, Notre Dame
2002: (No pick)
2003: (No pick)
2004: Guss Scott, DB, Florida
2005: Ellis Hobbs III, CB, Iowa State; Nick Kaczur, OL, Toledo
2006: David Thomas, TE, Texas
2007: (No pick)
2008: Shawn Crable, OLB, Michigan; Kevin O’Connell, QB, San Diego State
2009: Brandon Tate, WR, North Carolina; Tyrone McKenzie, LB, South Florida
2010: Taylor Price, WR, Ohio
2011: Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU; Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
2012: Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
Total Picks: 14
Successful Picks: 4 (Hobbs, Kaczur, Ridley, Mallett)
Most Successful Pick: Ridley
Players in this round tend to start out like Great Expectations and end up in The Long Goodbye. So many of them seemed to have wonderful potential. Did anyone else hope that Tate or Price could become a solid third receiver, or that Crable could address New England’s pass-rushing needs?
At least the Pats have shown some signs of life here recently, as their past three picks show a starter (Ridley), a number two QB (Mallett), and a pass-rusher (Bequette) with great potentia– hoo, boy.
Fourth Round –
2000: Greg Robinson-Randall, OT, Michigan State
2001: Kenyatta Jones, OT, South Florida; Jabari Holloway, TE, Notre Dame
2002: Rohan Davey, QB, LSU; Jarvis Green, DE, LSU
2003: Dan Klecko, DL, Temple; Asante Samuel, CB, Central Florida
2004: Dexter Reid, DB, North Carolina; Cedric Cobbs, RB, Arkansas
2005: James Sanders, DB, Fresno State
2006: Garrett Mills, FB, Tulsa; Stephen Gostkowski, K, Memphis
2007: Kareem Brown, DL, Miami
2008: Jonathan Wilhite, DB, Auburn
2009: Rich Ohrnberger, OL, Penn State
2010: Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida
2011: (No Pick)
2012: (No Pick)
Total Picks: 16
Successful Picks: 5 (Green, Samuel, Sanders, Gostkowski, Hernandez)
Most Successful Pick: Samuel
Now in the middle round, the hit-or-miss nature of these picks makes sense. Look at 2003: On the one hand, we see Samuel, the last, best corner New England has had. On the other, there’s Klecko (drafted before Samuel), who couldn’t quite make the conversion to linebacker in Foxboro and ended up a journeyman fullback/D-lineman.
Maybe the Patriots saw what they had in Hernandez and decided to retire this draft round in his honor. Unless they make some changes, New England will once again go without a fourth-round pick this April. We fail to anticipate any regional outcry.
Fifth Round –
2000: Dave Stachelski, TE, Boise State; Jeff Marriott, DT, Missouri
2001: Hakim Akbar, DB, Washington
2002: (No pick)
2003: Dan Koppen, OL, Boston College
2004: P. K. Sam, WR, Florida State
2005: Ryan Claridge, OLB, UNLV
2006: Ryan O’Callaghan, OL, California
2007: Clint Oldenburg, OL, Colorado State
2008: Matthew Slater, WR, UCLA
2009: George Bussey, OL, Louisville
2010: Zoltan Mesko, P, Michigan
2011: Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU; Lee Smith, TE, Marshall
2012: (No pick)
Total Picks: 13
Successful Picks: 4 (Koppen, Slater, Mesko, Cannon)
Most Successful Pick: Koppen
We used to call Round Five “Koppen or Bust.” Now, with Slater and Mesko aboard, we can name it “The Special Teams Round.”
Here’s a genius quote from the 2009 column: “All I’m saying is, I can only go by what I know so far, and so far, Slater’s failed to produce.” Oops. I suppose past production is not an indicator of future performance. In a good way.
Again, the Pats have no picks in the fifth round this year. We have no problem with that.
Sixth Round –
2000: Antwan Harris, CB, Virginia; Tom Brady, QB, Michigan; David Nugent, DT, Purdue.
2001: Arther Love, TE, South Carolina State; Leonard Myers, DB, Miami
2002: (No pick)
2003: Kliff Kingsbury, QB, Texas Tech
2004: (No pick)
2005: (No pick)
2006: Jeremy Mincey, OLB, Florida; Dan Stevenson, OL, Notre Dame; LeKevin Smith, DL, Nebraska
2007: Justin Rogers, OLB, SMU; Justise Hairston, RB, Central Connecticut; Corey Hilliard, OL, Oklahoma State
2008: Bo Ruud, OLB, Nebraska
2009: Jake Ingram, LS, Hawaii; Myron Pryor, DT, Kentucky
2010: Ted Larsen, C, NC State
2011: Markell Carter, DE, Central Arkansas
2012: Nate Ebner, DB, Ohio State
Total Picks: 18
Successful Picks: 3 (Brady, Pryor, Ebner)
Most Successful Pick: One guess
Not sure if you know this, but TOM BRADY WAS SELECTED IN THIS ROUND. You can take away Pryor and Ebner – shoot, take away all other picks, and this will still contend for the Best Round Ever.
By the way – Antwan Harris? Seriously, Pats? You had to wait until later in the sixth to select Our Tom?
It seems as though the Patriots lose focus in the middle rounds, before regaining it in the seventh. Based on how their success rate increases late, maybe they get excited about lesser-known draft candidates/overachievers.
Seventh Round –
2000: Casey Tisdale, OLB, New Mexico; Patrick Pass, RB, Georgia
2001: Owen Pochman, K, BYU; T. J. Turner, LB, Michigan State
2002: Antwoine Womack, RB, Virginia; David Givens, WR, Notre Dame
2003: Spencer Nead, TE, BYU; Tully Banta-Cain, LB, California; Ethan Kelley, NT, Baylor
2004: Christian Morton, CB, Florida State
2005: Matt Cassel, QB, Southern California; Andy Stokes, TE, William Penn
2006: Willie Andrews, DB, Baylor
2007: Oscar Lua, LB, Southern California; Mike Elgin, OL, Iowa
2008: (No pick)
2009: Julian Edelman, WR, Kent State; Darryl Richardson, DT, Georgia Tech
2010: Thomas Welch, OT, Vanderbilt; Brandon Deaderick, DL, Alabama; Kade Weston, DL, Georgia; Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State
2011: Malcolm Williams, CB, TCU
2012: Alfonso Dennard, DB, Nebraska; Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern
Total Picks: 24(!)
Successful Picks: 8 (Pass, Givens, Banta-Cain, Cassel, Edelman, Deaderick, Williams, Dennard)
Most Successful Pick: Cassel
Wait: 24 picks in 13 drafts? That six more than the next highest (Rounds Two and Six). New England has had a bit of a hot streak of late with Edelman, Deaderick, Williams and Dennard. (And, yes, we are partial to Williams due to the time he spent with Patriots Daily in 2011.) Ebert has also stuck around on the practice squad. With two lucky sevens this spring, they could add a couple of special teamers or even a consistent contributor.
It’s about expectations, really. Receiver/returner Bethel Johnson was drafted in the second round, caught 30 passes in three seasons, then got traded for defensive tackle/pot transporter Johnathan Sullivan. Receiver/returner Julian Edelman was drafted in the seventh round, caught 69 passes in four years, and may bolt Foxboro in free agency. Edelman looks like the better pick, kind of like finding five dollars in your jacket: it’s not a huge payoff, but better than what you expected when you reached into your pocket.
Alongside this wide net approach, pressure in the final round decreases even more as we consider how well the Patriots have done after the draft, bringing in a constant string of unselected players to take on key roles.
Some past UDFAs who contributed: Stephen Neal, OL; Tom Ashworth, OL; Eric Alexander, LB; Randall Gay, DB; Wesley Britt, OL; Antwain Spann, CB; Kyle Eckel, RB; Santonio Thomas, DL: Mike Wright, DL; Corey Mays, LB; Pierre Woods, OLB; BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB; Vince Redd, OLB, Tyson Devree, TE.
UDFAs on the roster now: Kyle Love, DL, Mississippi State; Dane Fletcher, LB, Montana State; Brandon Bolden, RB, Ole Miss; Marcus Forston, DL, Miami; Justin Francis, DE, Rutgers.
That makes 19 contributors over 13 seasons, which encompasses one of the many intriguing aspects of the draft: when it’s over, it’s not really over.
Have a favorite all-time Belichick draft round? Leave a comment below.