Trying to focus on the draft to distract from the thought of a 77-year-old multibillionaire flying down to Florida to spend eighty bucks on oh I can’t even let’s just please move on from this horror

Draft grades are dumb. We had no idea that sixth-rounder Tom Brady would become the greatest quarterback, or that seventh-rounder Julian Edelman would become a Super Bowl MVP. Shoot, even this past fall, first-round running back Sony Michel took months to develop and got tagged as a bust. We won’t know how the 2018 draft will pan out for at least another year, as most of the class went to IR and has to wait until this summer before they can work toward finding a role on the team.

Grading year-to-year also gets problematic over time, because some years have better talent than others. Back in 2007, for example, New England selected nine players, with only first-round safety Brandon Meriweather making the active roster. We have to assume Belichick tried to trade those picks for future selections, but no one wanted to get bogged down with a less-than-stellar group. For this column, instead of dealing with the inconsistency of each years’ player options, we look at rounds, which has given us a better idea of how the Patriots front office has fared over the past 19 drafts. 

After yet another Super Bowl win, we realize fans may have gotten behind in your Pats-centric draft research. We posted the first installment of our “That Guy” draft series after the Senior Bowl earlier this month, and look to post another after the NFL Combine in early March.

In terms of ratings, I’ve tried to keep it simple: those who stay with the team and play out their contracts are considered successes, while those who get cut do not. While some second-rounders (like safety Tavon Wilson, for example) may not have met expectations, late-rounders like Brady and Edelman far exceeded them; all are viewed as successes here, and they tend to balance each other out.

As of this writing, the Patriots have a whopping 12 picks in the 2019 draft, including six in the first three rounds. Round One is Day One; Rounds Two and Three are Day Two; Rounds Four through Seven are Day Three. The NFL Draft Three-Day Jamboree is right around the corner in (checks notes) late April? Yeesh. Well, we hope until then that you refer to this list often. There’s a reason New England contends for the championship every year, and it started back with a late-round selection in 2000.

Ready? On to the picks.

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

2013: (No Pick – traded down)

2014: Dominique Easley, DL, Florida

2015: Malcom Brown, DL, Texas

2016: (No pick – Taken away because of the Ideal Gas Law)

2017: (No pick – traded to New Orleans for Brandin Cooks)

2018: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia; Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

Total Picks: 17

Successful Picks: 14 (Seymour, Graham, Warren, Wilfork, Watson, Mankins, Mayo, McCourty, Solder, Jones, Hightower, Brown, Wynn, Michel)

Most Successful Pick: Seymour

Percentage: 82

New England does well with their earliest shots, as every first-round pick has started in Foxboro (even Easley had three starts). Here in the first round, I’m going against what I said before about rating the quality of player contributions by marking Maroney and Meriweather as non-successes. They don’t qualify as total busts, as Maroney started in Foxboro and rushed for 1,580 yards in his first two years, while Meriweather had 12 interceptions in four seasons with New England before hanging around the NFL for five more years. If they’d been second-rounders, they’d rate better; both just failed to live up to the lofty status set by most Patriots first-rounders.

The Patriots’ one first-round pick in 2019 comes right at the end of Day One. In the past, they’ve considered trading down to the second round for more picks and flexibility. This year, with so much trade fodder, they should consider moving up the board, because there’s a sharp drop off in success rate for Day Two. Case in point:

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

2013: Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss; Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall

2014: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois

2015: Jordan Richards, DB, Stanford

2016: Cyrus Jones, DB, Alabama

2017: (No pick)

2018: Duke Dawson, DB, Florida

Total Picks: 24

Successful Picks: 12 (Light, Branch, E. Wilson, Vollmer, Gronkowski, Spikes, Vereen, T. Wilson, Collins, Garoppolo, Chung, Dawson)

Most Successful Pick: Gronkowski

Percentage: 50

See? Sharp drop. Precipitous, even. (Note: this is not a knock against Belichick’s drafting, merely a heads-up on the fickle nature of this process.) The Patriots tend to take some chances in Round Two, like picking high-potential-but-oft-injured players such as Gronkowski (woohoo!) and Dowling (oof). They also have a rough record drafting defensive backs in this round, with Jones as the latest example (writer Oliver Thomas sums up their DB woes in this piece on Jordan Richards from last September.)

Again, New England has shown a tendency to trade out of the first round into the second, which is why they’ve had 24 Round Twos vs. 17 Round Ones. They should reconsider this strategy in 2019 because they have two Round Two picks to play with, and it just makes sense that, when they pick higher, they do better.

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

2013: Logan Ryan, DB, Rutgers; Duron Harmon, DB, Rutgers

2014: (No pick)

2015: Geneo Grissom, DL, Oklahoma

2016: Joe Thuney, OL, N. C. State; Jacoby Brissett, QB, N. C. State; Vincent Valentine, DL, Nebraska

2017: Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State; Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy

2018: (No pick)

Total Picks: 22

Successful Picks: 9 (Hobbs, Kaczur, Ridley, Mallett, Ryan, Harmon, Thuney, Brissett, Rivers)

Most Successful Pick: Thuney (formerly Ryan)

Percentage: 41

Just a reminder that the Patriots picked Grissom before Trey Flowers in the 2015 draft, which tells us (yet again) that we can’t know how a draft haul will work out until at least a couple of seasons later. Once again, I’m linking to this 2013 post-draft analysis with Bruce Allen, Chad Finn, Chris Price, and Mike Reiss where I gave both Rutgers DBs a “fair” rating. (I’m so good at this, you guys!). I said last year that Thuney looked geared up to take over the Most Successful mantle, and his yeoman work with three straight Super-Bowl-bound offensive lines puts him there. Brissett earns a successful ranking because he provided value for two seasons as a backup quarterback and via trade.

Rivers showed preseason potential before missing all of his rookie year with a knee injury; he had two tackles and one sack in six games this season. Will he come back stronger in Year Three? Speaking of pass rushers with potential, here’s where I link to my annual visual reminder that Crable once jumped over a dude.

We begin to see wide fluctuations in draft success here, with some big hits and a few more misses. (Still think they should have held onto Tate as a receiver/returner instead of signing Ochocinco. Glad to get that off my chest after eight years.)

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: The Tight End Who Shan’t Be Named, Florida

2011: (No Pick)

2012: (No Pick)

2013: Josh Boyce, WR, TCU

2014: Bryan Stork, OL, Florida State; James White, RB, Wisconsin; Cameron Fleming, OL, Stanford

2015: Trey Flowers, DL, Arkansas; Tré Jackson, OL, Florida State; Shaq Mason, OL, Georgia Tech

2016: Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia

2017: Deatrich Wise, DE, Arkansas

2018: (No pick)

Total Picks: 25

Successful Picks: 11 (Green, Samuel, Sanders, Gostkowski, Stork, White, Fleming, Flowers, Mason, Mitchell, Wise)

Most Successful Pick: Samuel

Percentage: 44

The Patriots remain consistent in these middle rounds, missing more often than not but managing enough success to help out the team on a regular basis. White, Flowers, and Mason all deserve credit for helping keep New England at their recent championship level, though none of them has individually risen above Samuel’s status. Wise, another Arkansas alum, has bolstered the D-line for the past two seasons. Wanted to keep Mitchell as a success, but after a strong rookie season, knee injuries have kept him off the field. So too with Tré Jackson, who looked like a keeper before knee woes shortened his NFL career. Jackson is currently starting at guard for the Orlando Apollos in the Alliance of American Football.

Upon review, the 2010 draft makes me wish Belichick had never met Urban Meyer. Good Heavens. 

The Patriots have three picks in the third round this year and one in the fourth. Considering their success rate stays pretty level in the middle of the draft, expect them to use their capital to move around the board and pluck players they like on Day Two and early Day Three. 

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)

2013: (No pick)

2014: (No pick)

2015: Joe Cardona, LS, Navy

2016: (No pick)

2017: (No pick)

2018: Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB, Purdue

Total Picks: 15

Successful Picks: 6 (Koppen, Slater, Mesko, Cannon, Cardona, Bentley)

Most Successful Pick: Koppen

Percentage: 40

With the fewest picks of any round, I wouldn’t blame you if you skipped the fifth and just went on to the next one. I used to refer to this round as “Koppen or Bust,” but Cannon and Cardona have given this area of the draft a better rep in Foxboro. Now Bentley, who showed some spark early this past season before getting injured, could add another success story. No fifth round picks for New England this year as of this writing (they traded theirs to Cleveland for Josh Gordon), though they may look to swap for one and bolster their special teams a lá Slater at this point on Day Three. Could just be coincidence, but Belichick has traded out of this round more than any other. 

Fun fact: Went to look up how many tackles Slater had this season and discovered the NFL lists him as a receiver. He has one regular-season reception in his career (2011). Weird choice, NFL.

Posted this last year and wanted to reiterate that Ryan O’Callaghan came out in 2017 and is doing well now, thanks very much.

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

2013: (No Pick)

2014: John Halapio, OL, Florida; Zach Moore, DE, Concordia

2015: Matthew Wells, LB, Mississippi State; A. J. Derby, TE, Arkansas

2016: Kamu Grugier-Hill, OLB, Eastern Illinois; Elandon Roberts, ILB, Houston; Ted Karras, OL, Illinois

2017: Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA

2018: Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State; Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami

Total Picks: 28

Successful Picks: 7 (Brady, Pryor, Ebner, Roberts, Karras, Sam, Berrios)

Most Successful Pick: The Guy Who Needs The Other Thumb To Hold All His Rings

Percentage: 25

Round Six shows a sizable decrease in keepers and yields the lowest return overall. It demonstrates the amazing crapshoot of this whole process, as New England selected cornerback Harris before their quarterback of the future in 2000. They also took long snapper Ingram one round before choosing Edelman in 2009. At the time? No one cared.

Six Rounds, Six Rings. Nice. Recent pluses include Roberts, who totaled 65 tackles this season and was a real hit in the Super Bowl (guffaw!), as you’ll see at the 0:44 mark of this GMFB highlight where he floors Rams tackle Roger Saffold. Karras has been lauded as a smart, strong backup for the Patriots’ excellent interior O-line. Ebner came back this season after missing the latter part of 2017 with an injury, and he stood out on special teams with 13 tackles. 

New England has one selection in the sixth this spring, a compensatory pick for Danny Amendola. Time to grab another receiver?

Actually, hold that thought…

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 Richard, 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

2013: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois; Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers

2014: Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan

2015: Darryl Roberts, DB, Marshall

2016: Devin Lucien, WR, Arizona State

2017: (No pick)

2018: Danny Etling, QB, LSU; Keion Crossen, DB, Western Carolina; Ryan Izzo, TE, Florida State

Total Picks: 32 (sooo many picks!)

Successful Picks: 10 (Pass, Givens, Banta-Cain, Cassel, Edelman, Deaderick, Dennard, Etling, Crossen, Izzo)

Most Successful Pick: Your Super Bowl MVP

Percentage: 31

New England selects more players in the seventh than any other round, treating this area of the draft as a place to nab promising rookies without having to outbid other teams for undrafted free agents. Not a high percentage, but quantity has provided some quality, with Edelman the most outstanding example and Crossen the most recent one. Contributors who didn’t make the “success” list include pass rusher Buchanan (nine tackles in 15 games as a rookie) and D-back/special teamer Andrews (24 tackles in two seasons). 

Fun fact: Lucien, who spent time on New England’s practice squad, caught a touchdown pass for the Memphis Express in last Saturday’s AAF game against the Apollos. 

The Patriots have four seventh-round picks in 2019. If they don’t seek out a slot-type receiver at some point during these final moments of Day Three, get me my fainting couch.

Post-draft, it’s on to the free-for-all to accumulate undrafted rookie talent. Segue!

UDFAs

Every team needs help from rookie free agents, but perhaps no team has gotten better aid recently than the Patriots. From Georgia center David Andrews anchoring the team’s O-line for three straight Super Bowls, to Auburn corner Jonathan Jones confusing the Rams by becoming a safety, to a certain West Alabama defensive back answering the call to “Go!” You can check out our “Who’s The FA? UDFA!” column from 2017 for another look at that year’s haul, including Wyoming tight end Jacob Hollister and Vanderbilt defensive lineman Adam Butler. 

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; Gary Guyton, LB; Ray Ventrone, DB; Chris Harper, WR; Josh Kline, OL. 

Some UDFAs on the roster now: Andrews, Butler, Hollister, Jones, Brian Hoyer, QB, Michigan State; Cole Croston, OL, Iowa; Ryan Allen, P, Louisiana Tech; Brandon King, DB, Auburn; JC Jackson, Maryland; Trent Harris, DL, Miami; Frank Herron, DL, LSU; A. J. Howard, DB, Appalachian State; Damoun Patterson, WR, Youngstown State.

Only one undrafted rookie (Jackson) made the regular roster last year, in part because New England already had a plethora of picks and talent. Looks like a similar situation this year – especially with most of the 2018 draft class returning from injury – though we can’t count out the annual tradition of at least one Patriots UDFA making the team. Fun to keep track of this spring. 

Please watch out for our next “That Guy” column after the NFL Combine wraps up early next week.  

Chris Warner is looking forward to this draft, like he does every year, and he will end up getting bored, like he does every year. You can reach him via email at chris.warner@patriotsdaily.com or through Twitter @cwarn89.

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