Making The Rounds, New England Style

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

Percentage: 85

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

Percentage: 50

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

Percentage: 29

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

Percentage: 31

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

Percentage: 31

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

Percentage: 17

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

Percentage: 33

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.

  • DrakeW

    Whatever happened to Patriots Daily? The Pats lost the SB to the Giants last year and then nothing…

    • Chris W.

      Hey Drake. Patriots Daily wasn’t attracting the kind of traffic we were looking for, so starting last spring (pre-draft) we switched much of the content over here to BSMW. Appreciate the comment, and look forward to posting more PD-type work here.

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