I recently wrote an article categorizing every Bill Belichick draft pick into a “hit” or “miss”. Being the stout Belichick Defender I am, I put on my Draft Pick Sorting Hat and went to work. And the conclusion I came to was this: While GM Bill isn’t quite Gryffindor level at drafting players, he surely isn’t a Hufflepuff. He’s a solid Ravenclaw. He has all the main characteristics of someone in that house; cleverness, wisdom, wit, intellectual ability and creativity. But sometimes that wisdom forces him to overthink and he misses out on players. It happens.
But in typical Belichick hater fashion, the goal post was moved on me. The argument changed from Belichick not being able to draft at all, to “Yeah, maybe he used to be good, but what’s he done recently!? NOTHING! That’s why Tommy left bud! He ain’t got no Pro-Bowlers! No weapons! He reaches on guys cause he thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room! Billy boy has lost his fastball!” That’s what I imagine the doubters sound like.
So I said to myself, self, let’s dive back into this nonsense. Not because I care what these blind haters think, but because I’m bored and was genuinely curious if these buffoons had any ground to stand on. But this time I was going to do it a little different. Last time I split the picks up into ‘hits‘ and ‘misses‘ with no real deep dive into why they were there. This time I wanted to look at the pick from every angle. For instance, did Belichick reach on a player, what were this players expectations, draft selection, what was going on with the team at this point and was there any bad luck involved?
Just because a player is a miss, doesn’t mean the pick itself was bad. There are plenty of other factors at play.
With all that in mind, let’s really peel back the last 5 years of BeliDrafts (2021 omitted obviously) and see if Belichick really is horrible at drafting, or if the inexact science that is the NFL Draft lived up to it’s description.
2015: 11 Players
-Rd 1/Pk 32: DL Malcom Brown – I reluctantly labeled Brown as a ‘miss’ in my initial article. Thought to grow into a defensive staple for seasons to come, he lasted four years with the team while tallying only 8.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Not great for a first round pick. And while I don’t like to be too harsh on a player strictly because of where he was drafted (especially since the last pick in the first round is essentially a second round pick) he just never made that much of an impact. It’s very important to remember, though, that most analysts expected Brown to be taken a dozen or so picks earlier. So while this turned out to be a not so great player, the pick itself was a good idea and not a reach at all. This is one of those times where the potential was there, it just didn’t turn into anything. Again, inexact science.
-Rd 2/Pk 64: S Jordan Richards – Yeeeaaahhh, this was a reach. We all knew it at the time, but this was when the “In Bill We Trust” hashtags came out and we all just said “Well maybe this will work”. Spoiler: it did not work. Richards was known as a ‘coach on the field’ in Stanford so we all just assumed that he would be a McCourty type of leader in the secondary for many years. He was not. Gone after 3 years (and inexplicably brought back for a few games in 2019) Richards was a giant swing and a miss.
-Rd 3/Pk 97: DL Geneo Grissom – “Patriots-type player…very versatile…Belichick loves him” All the normal buzzwords you hear when Belichick drafts a player that isn’t on most people’s radar. Talented or not, one sack in 3 seasons with no notable role in the defense leaves us with a big pile of “meh”. It’s not like the Pats missed out on an amazing player by drafting this guy, but Jamison Crowder was drafted 8 picks after this. And even though Crowder isn’t a superstar, I feel like that would’ve been a better decision. Bad pick.
-Rd 4/Pk 101: DL Trey Flowers – We all know the story with Flowers. Tallying 21 sacks in 3 years, Flowers was due to get PAID. And, like many players end up doing, he went elsewhere to secure the bag. He had 7 sacks his first year in Detroit and injuries have plagued him since. When Bill let Flowers walk, local radio was once again blasting the “BELICHICK DOESN’T PAY ANYONE!” horn almost as if they are still surprised at how Belichick operates. This was a good pick.
-Rd 4/Pk 111: OL Tre’ Jackson – Knee issues had Jackson fall a bit in the draft until the Pats picked him up here. Him and trash knees only played one season with the Pats. After only 13 games (9 starts) he was released, picked up by the Rams and released again 2 days later after a failed physical. Not all was lost for Jackson though! He is currently on the Tampa Bay Vipers XFL team so…that’s something! Flyer on a player with injury history who could turn into something…Belichick’s playbook to a tee.
-Rd 4/Pk 131: OL Shaq Mason – Great pick. Great value. Great guy. We know this. Next!
-Rd 5/Pk 166: LS Joe Cardona – Solid long snapper. Won’t excite ANY Pats fan, but this is as Belichickean a move as you can get. A late 5th round pick is a fine place for a player that’s been on your team for 6+ years and helped solidify an entire phase of the game. Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the special teams units around the league and all the botched snaps. Extremely rare with Cardona.
-Rd 6/Pk 178: LB Matthew Wells – Drafted to be a special teams guy. Traded to the Bears in the same year and didn’t see the field at all in his NFL career. Not great. Belichick has hit with 6th rounders before, so it’s okay to expect some value in these late rounds. But you have to temper the criticisms of 6th rounders that don’t develop into anything.
-Rd 6/Pk 202: TE A.J. Derby – Seeing a failed TE draft pick immediately gives me PTSD about the 2020 tandem of Asiasi and Keene. A.J. didn’t notch one reception during his time with New England. Placed on IR his first season and losing a roster spot in a crowded TE room in his second, he was traded to the Broncos for a 5th rounder.
-Rd 7/Pk 247: CB Darryl Roberts – Placed on IR his first year and released his second. Nothing to see here. (Although, pay attention to the alarming amount of IR trips and injuries…yikes)
-Rd 7/Pk 253: LB Xzavier Dickson – Released months after being drafted, spent a little time with the Falcons on their practice squad and is no longer in the league. Rounds out a pointless 7th round for the Patriots.
Verdict: This was an overall okay draft. Misses in the late rounds, but you picked up two very good starters that are still on the team. You also snagged a very good DE who produced while he was here, but left for money. And Brown wasn’t a horrible pick, he just didn’t live up to the hype. The Richards pick hurts here though, as did the Grissom selection.
2016: 9 Players
-Rd 1: DeflateGate (Screw you Goodell)
-Rd 2/Pk 60: CB Cyrus Jones – Patriots fans will remember Jones for seemingly fumbling more kicks than he caught. Picking a special teams specialist in the second round is a head scratching move for sure. And when that player turns out to be not that special, it’s a big miss. If you’re going to reach for a guy here, he’s gotta be good. Jones was bad. Real bad. And stayed bad when he went to Baltimore.
-Rd 3/Pk 78: OL Joe Thuney – One of the best guards in the league. Unfortunately he left town to block for Mahomes in KC.
-Rd 3/Pk 91: QB Jacoby Brissett – Ah man, I loved Brissett. Remember that TD run against the Texans!? ***I’ve tried to link the video 10 times, but the NFL apparently has a stranglehold on the rights to that TD run, sorry***
Unfortunately Jacoby had to be sent packing (along with Jimmy G) because Brady was still going toe-to-toe with Father Time…and winning. Brissett started 15 games in 2017 and 2019 for Indy but was never given a full slate of confidence to be the starter. He got shipped to Miami earlier this year. Getting a potential starting QB in the 3rd round is a good pick though, especially when you have a pick 5 spots later. You also have to remember that Bill was ready to move on from Brady at this point, so he was picking for a potential replacement. So “wasting” this pick on a QB wasn’t “wasting” a pick, regardless what people may tell you. Brady just didn’t cooperate with the plan.
-Rd 3/Pk 96: DL Vincent Valentine – One year, one sack. Yikes. This was a big miss. But he, like many other players, got a Super Bowl ring on his finger so I guess that’s a W for him personally. For GM Bill? It’s an L.
-Rd 4/Pk 112: WR Malcolm Mitchell – I will say this until the day death takes me: Malcolm Mitchell was going to be REAL GOOD. Real freaking good. But injuries and underlying mental health issues cut his career FAR too short after only one season. 32 catches in 14 (barely healthy) games for 401 yards and 4 TD’s is a solid foundation for a fourth round pick to build off of. He also started to gain that ultimate brass ring known as the “Trust of Brady”, which showed in his 6 catch, 70 yard Super Bowl performance against the Falcons. But injuries are a son of a B and we’ll never know just what Mitchell would’ve turned into.
-Rd 6/Pk 208: LB Kamu Grugier-Hill – Cut before the season even started. Another forgotten late round draft pick in the 2010’s. No harm no foul I guess, but another 6th rounder that didn’t pan out whatsoever.
-Rd 6/Pk 214: LB Elandon Roberts – When HIghtower went down, Roberts filled in admirably in his rookie year. A reliable depth piece at a position of need is far from a bad pick this late in the draft. Also, he became the second defensive player to ever catch a TD from Brady in 2019. That was an awesome highlight in a year many Pats fans want to forget.
-Rd 6/Pk 221: OL Ted Karras – Another very solid OL backup or plug-and-play starter. When it was thought that everyone’s favorite center, David Andrews, was going to be leaving this offseason, Karras was brought in to start at center and no one batted an eye. He’s a good lineman and a great pick late in the draft. For as iffy as Belichick has been at drafting receivers, he’s been the exact opposite in finding offensive linemen. Guys a wizard with the OL.
-Rd 7/Pk 225: WR Devin Lucien – Never played a game in the NFL.
Verdict: Good draft. Karras and Roberts in the 6th round were great picks, and Thuney was a tremendous one. Mitchell and Brissett shouldn’t be looked at as negatives, more like just ‘unfortunate circumstances’ type situations. But that Cyrus Jones pick, jeesh…
2017: 4 Players (The “pick trading frenzy” year).
-Rd 1/Pk 32: Traded to the Saints for Brandin Cooks. If ya can’t draft em, trade for em. Good move. Cooks is criminally underrated by the way, just sayin’.
-Rd 2/Pk 64: Traded to the Panthers for Kony Ealy. Bad move. Never lived up to the lofty expectations. ***They received the 72nd pick as well in this trade, but flipped that pick, and their own 6th rounder, to the Titans for two fourth round picks (83rd and 124th). Belichick kept the 83rd pick, but traded the 124th and his own 96th pick away for pick number 85…following along?***
-Rd 3/Pk 83: DL Derek Rivers – Coming out of college he was touted for being a “sack machine” but, keeping with the alarming rookie trend, suffered a season ending injury in training camp and missed his rookie year. And it’s that injury that derailed the beginning of what should have been a good career. Rivers came back for one year but then AGAIN suffered a season ending injury before the 2019 campaign. Injuries killed any potential impact Rivers could’ve had for the Pats. He’s no longer with the team.
-Rd 3/Pk 85: OL Antonio Garcia – Garcia was supposed to be a valuable lineman for the Patriots moving forward but he missed his entire first season. But if you guessed “injury” as the reason why, and who could blame you, you’d be wrong. Blood clots took Garcia down and he has yet to play an NFL game. Blood clots don’t constitute a bad pick. This is just pure horrible, scary bad luck.
-Rd 4/Pk 131: DL Deatrich Wise – Ah the lone bright spot of this draft. Wise has rounded into a solid DE who just signed a brand new contract with the team this offseason. I’m gonna latch on to this one sliver of light in the otherwise barren wasteland of darkness that is the 2017 Draft.
-Rd 5/Pk 183: Traded to the Chiefs for TE James O’Shaughnessy (and the 216th pick which was then packaged with their own 7th round pick and traded to the Cowboys for the 211th pick). Bad Trade.
-Rd 6/Pk 211: OL Conor McDermott – Late round flyer. Yet another rookie to never play a game for the Patriots before getting shipped off to Buffalo, then the Jets before landing on the IR. All he needs is a Miami trip and he’ll have the AFC East Quadfecta!
-Rd 7/Pk 239: Traded to Dallas
Verdict: That was a tough one to get through. Arguably the worst draft Belichick ever had. Maybe this is where the “Belichick sucks at drafting” rumors really picked up steam? Ealy and Rivers were both touted as potential linchpins on the defense, but they turned out to be useless cogs in this machine. I think what hurts this draft the most is what they COULD have gotten. Chris Godwin was taken in the middle of the Rivers/Garcia sandwich and Hunt was taken right after them. Switch those players out and who knows what happens. Bill deserves criticism for this draft, even I can’t polish this turd.
2018: 10 Players
-Rd 1/Pk 23: OL Isaiah Wynn – The Pats got an extra first rounder here by Brandin Cooks going to New Orleans, and this was a great selection. Snagging a starting quality LT after yours just signed the (then) biggest lineman contract in history with the Giants? Makes sense! But guess what happened his rookie year? Yep! Season. Ending. Injury. Wynn has battled back though, now looking completely healthy. He’s fit in nicely in a revamped Pats O-Line that’s sure to be towards the top of the league this year.
-Rd 1/Pk 31: RB Sony Michel – This has to be the most polarizing pick in Belichick history right? For a coach who never put too much value in the RB position, seeing him take one in the FIRST ROUND was a record scratch moment for New England. With expectations through the roof, Michel had a good rookie season with 931 yards to close out the 2018 regular season. And of course, his rookie season was plagued with nagging injuries. Playoff Michel was a different story though, as we all know. But a slower 2019 had fans wondering if Michel was worth the pick. It didn’t help that his Georgia running mate, Nick Chubb, who was picked just a few picks AFTER Sony, started tearing it up for the Browns. Michel could never live up to those “magical expectations” fans and the local media thrust on him. He’s now with the Rams and I hope he excells over there, he deserves it.
Here’s my full take (rant) on the Michel situation from the best, new Patriots podcast you may not have heard about yet, Tuck Rule Takes. (I get into it basically a few minutes in)
-Rd 2/Pk 56: CB Duke Dawson – Guess where Dawson started his rookie season? On IR. Didn’t play one regular season game for the Patriots. Another player who had expectations but got bit by the injury bug. Tough to place an excessive amount of blame on Bill here, but it’s still frustrating nonetheless.
-Rd 3/Pk 95: Traded to the 49ers for Trent Brown and a 5th rounder. Good trade.
-Rd 4/Pk 131: Traded to Eagles as a part of the Eric Rowe deal. Meh.
-Rd 5/Pk 143: LB Ja’Whaun Bentley – Played in his first three games his rookie year and then…dramatic pause…tore his biceps and ended his season. He’s starting to round into shape though as a good part of the LB rotation for Belichick and his defense. Good value in the 5th round here. Big things from Bentley this year.
-Rd 6/Pk 178: LB Christian Sam – I just remember people being abnormally excited about Sam after the draft. Not sure why, but I was. Sam was placed on IR before his rookie season and never played a game for the Pats. I mean, it’s getting ridiculous here. It’s basically a formality now that if you’re drafted by the Patriots, you might as well get ready for an IR tripe because that’s where you’re going. Very annoying.
-Rd 6/Pk 210: WR Braxton Berrios – IR for his rookie season, never played a game for the Pats. We’re basically just copy and pasting at this point..
-Rd 7/Pk 219: QB Danny Etling – “Is this the heir apparent to the GOAT!?” Not even close. Cut before the season then signed to the practice squad. Bounced around a bit but never got past the practice squad on any team he went to.
-Rd 7/Pk 243: CB Keion Crossen – Special teams guy who was traded to the Texans after a year for a 6th rounder. His roster spot was filled by fan favorite Gunner Olszewski so…that’s a positive!
-Rd 7/Pk 250: TE Ryan Izzo – As you know, it’s a right of passage to land on the IR your rookie season and Izzo obliged. But in 2019 he had six catches for 114 yards in only 6 games because, of course, he was injured. We don’t need to talk about 2020.
Verdict: What a mess. 6 out of 10 players hitting the IR and missing basically their entire season. That’s just shit luck. Michel and Wynn are net positives and Trent Brown is now back in the fold from Oakland Las Vegas, so that’s another W. Bentley was a good pick in the 5th too, but overall this draft is filled with late round flyers that turned out to be misses. This draft, following that train wreck of a 2017, is a big reason Belichick broke out the check book this year and had to buy some talent.
2019: 10 Players
-Rd 1/Pk 32: WR N’Keal Harry – I know I said it for Michel, but I was wrong. THIS is the most polarizing Belichick pick in history. The only WR Belichick has ever taken in the first round. For starters, as you all know, one must take a detour to the IR in their rookie season and that’s what Harry did. Playing in only 7 games his first year with 12 catches for 108 yards (and a TD taken off the board in KC. I never forget.) it was clear that he and Brady were not even close to being on the same page.
He didn’t fare much better with Newton under center either which was shocking given how often Cam backed Harry at every turn. The guy is built like a brickhouse (6-foot-4, 225) but just can’t seem to put it together. The excruciating detail that Pats fans will never recover from is the fact that, when the Harry pick was made, Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf were all still on the board. That hurts. N’Keal Harry is a baffling case. All the size, measurables and trait that would go along with a solid NFL receiver, but he can’t put it all together it seems. We’ll see what happens this year…
-Rd 2/Pk 45: CB Joejuan Williams – Williams got an unfair shake his first year. The Pats secondary was stacked in 2019 so he only got 85 snaps for the entire season. One could ask why Bill took a CB in the second round when he already had a full secondary to play with though. Especially since A.J. Bown, Mecole Hardman and Metcalf were still on the board at this point too, but Bill loves his defensive guys. 2020 saw Williams’ snap count go up to 171, but he was still behind players like Gilmore, McCourty, Jackson, Jonathan Jones and Terrence Brooks. With (Jason) McCourty gone and Gilmore
holding out on PUP nursing an injury, Williams should see more of a regular role in the secondary this season. This is somewhat of a make or break year for him. I’ll reserve judgement for now.
-Rd 3/Pk 77: DE Chase Winovich – High motor. Can get to the passer. A likeable personality. This guy is going to be a star in New England if he can just has to mature a little bit and remember to do his job on defense.
-Rd 3/Pk 87: RB Damien Harris – While Harris didn’t lose his rookie year to the IR, he still dealt with a nagging hamstring injury that allowed him to play in only 2 games. He was a “healthy scratch” for 12 games, but the team repeatedly said they liked what they saw in him. They just wanted to see more. In 2020, Harris gave them more. He played in 10 games totaling 691 yards on only 137 rushes. Harris was electric almost every time he touched the ball and one of the only bright spots of a horrible 2020 season for the Pats. He’ll likely be the lead back this year with Michel gone and it’s going to be fun to see his eat behind a great offensive line.
-Rd 3/Pk 101: OL Yodny Cajuste – Placed on the “Non-football injury list” to start his rookie campaign and then placed on IR in 2020 with a knee injury, Cajuste has had a rough go of it. He’s currently working his way back with the team, and there’s a slight groundswell of confidence growing under him. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with him this season. Too early to judge this one given the circumstances.
-Rd 3/Pk 118: OL Hjalte Froholdt – You’re getting tired of reading it, I’m getting tired of typing it, but Froholdt was placed on IR his rookie year with a shoulder injury. Suited up for 8 games in 2020 but is now a free agent.
-Rd 4/Pk 133: QB Jarrett Stidham – Stid! More like StidMARK. This was the guy. THIS was the young QB who was going to take the reigns after Brady left us high and dry with the worst St. Patrick’s Day gift ever. Uuuuhhhh, not so much. You know his stats. You know that even while Cam seemingly forgot how to throw the ball last season, Stidham STILL barely saw the field. The door is almost officially closed on Stid the Stud, as he’s currently on the PUP list.
-Rd 5/Pk 159: DL Byron Cowart – 43 snaps and two tackles his rookie year playing in only 5 games. The COVID got him to start the season in 2020, but other than recording his first sack against the Rams in Week 14, his season was pretty forgettable…as the entire Patriots 2020 season was. Cowart is currently on the PUP list to start the year.
-Rd 5/Pk 163: P Jake Bailey – This was a really phenomenal pick. Punting has become a lost art in the NFL, with so many punters shanking kicks left and right, but Bailey averaged 45 yards a punt in his rookie year and 49 yards in 2020. He also made his first Pro-Bowl and 1st Team All-Pro last season as well. This was a pick very well spent. He’s a weapon.
-Rd 6/Pk 205: Traded to the Bears (along with the 73rd pick) for a 2019 5th rounder and a 2020 4th round pick
-Rd 7/Pk 252: CB Ken Webster – Almost immediately waived by the team after draft day. This was the definition of a waste of a pick. It’s a late 7th rounder, but still.
Verdict: There were SEVEN trades made by Belichick in this draft. SEVEN! SEVEN! SEVEN!
That’s insane. All in all, the real black eye on this draft was the strikeout in selecting Harry. He still has a sliver of time to turn it around, but his bus is headed to Bust Station at the moment.
2020: 10 Players (Year One Post Brady)
-Rd 1/Pk 23: Traded to the Chargers for picks #37 and #71 (Interestingly enough, this was the third time in the last five years that Belichick didn’t make a selection in the first round)
-Rd 2/Pk 37: S Kyle Dugger – Experts were scratching their heads with this one, but it looks like Dugger is gonna be a really good Patriot. With McCourty nearing the end of his career, Belichick needed to draft some safety help. And with the retirement of Patrick Chung, Dugger will look to play a big part in his second season with the team. And all signs are pointing to him being capable of doing so.
-Rd 2/Pk 60: LB Josh Uche – Uche brought back the tradition of being placed on IR to start your rookie season. He played 9 games and showed flashes of what he can bring to the team but was again placed on IR December 31st, but the season was lost at that point anyway. Even with the small sample size, it’s obvious to anyone watching that Uche is on track to develop into a solid LB for the Patriots defense. He’s been popping on the field this preseason, so hopefully he brings that to the regular season as well.
-Rd 3/Pk 87: LB Anfernee Jennings – With Hightower on the backside of his career and Van Noy gone (at that time), Belichick was really looking to sure up that position. Jennings is an Alabama product who I’m sure Saban gave the thumbs up to when Bill came calling. Jennings played in 14 games for the Pats last year and while he may not jump off the screen like Uche, he’s definitely in the mix going forward with this Patriots D.
-Rd 3/Pk 91: TE Devin Asiasi – Ugh. I’m not going to go into the depressing details here, you all know what a disappointment this and the next pick were last season. Started the season on the IR because of course he did, Asiasi was a letdown. If you want to chalk it up to a COVID year and not having a preseason or much of any time to practice and learn the system, I’m fine with that. I HOPE that’s the case for at least one of these third round tight ends, but my confidence level isn’t too high. If you want to immediately call Asiasi a bust? I can’t argue that either right now. He’ll have a slight chance to show up this season, I hope he takes it.
-Rd 3/Pk 101: TE Dalton Keene – Like Asiasi, Keene spent time on the IR as well in 2020. But also like his round-mate, he saw little action when he was suited up. I don’t know, I’m over this. I don’t want to talk about these guys anymore. It makes me sad. Remember the excitement when these two were picked? He’s currently on the IR. Moving on…
-Rd 4/Pk 125: Traded to Jets for pick #101
-Rd 5/Pk 159: K Justin Rohrwasser – Waived during final roster cuts for 2020 but signed to the practice squad afterwards, Rohrwasser never saw the field in a Patriots uniform. He also had a little “baggage” when he was drafted, but that never really had any steam to it. Regardless, this was a bad pick to try to replace Gostkowski.
-Rd 6/Pk 182: OL Mike Onwenu – This was a fantabulous find by Belichick. Onwenu turned into not only one of PFF’s highest rated rookies, but one of the highest ranked offensive linemen in the NFL. The guy even lined up at tight end a few times. Belichick has been known to find diamonds in the ruff, and that’s exactly what this guy is. Again, GREAT pick.
-Rd 6/Pk 195: OL Justin Herron – It’s been a few picks since I said a player got put on IR right? Well Herron was placed on IR for a stint in 2020. Herron is a depth piece at the moment, but he made news this offseason for stopping a potential sexual assault on an 71-year old woman a little while back. If he isn’t given the chance to protect Jones, he’s happy with just protecting everyday citizens I guess. Good guy, okay pick.
-Rd 6/Pk 204: LB Cassh Maluia – What a ride 2020 was for our boy Cassh. You ready?
Shortly after being drafted, he was waived before the season but signed to the practice squad the next day. He was then promoted to the active roster the following day, but waived shortly after. He THEN re-signed to the practice squad two days after THAT. Then he was brought up to the active roster a few days following his practice squad re-signing for the Week 10 but immediately sent back down to the practice squad afterwards. Week 16 he was promoted to the active roster again, but just like in Week 10, sent back down immediately following that game. He was promoted to the active roster to end the season, but was waived late March to end the most tumultuous journey I’ve seen a Patriots rookie take in a long time. Cool name, interesting roller coaster of a year, but forgettable pick.
-Rd 7/Pk 230: OL Dustin Woodard – Retired during Training Camp.
Verdict: It sucks that all anyone can talk about from this draft are the tight ends, because otherwise, this was a real good draft. Dugger, Uche and Jennings look to be future stars. I can’t say enough good things about Onwenu and Herron is a serviceable backup, which isn’t bad for a 6th round pick. Rohrwasser was a bad pick and I’ve already talked enough about Asiasi and Keene, but all things considered, this was a good draft that filled areas of need.
Wowie, that was longer than I thought it was going to be! And for what it’s worth, in case you were curious, by my count of hits and misses, we’re looking at 20 hits – 34 misses. THAT’S NOT BAD AT ALL! Especially with a lot of those misses being late round picks. I think it’s very clear now that Belichick hasn’t sucked at all when drafting the last 5 years, but there’s still the elephant in the room: the wide receiver position.
GM Bill selected 4 wide receivers in the last 5 years with only one of them (Malcolm Mitchell) being considered a good pick. He deserves to be criticized for his BIG miss by picking Harry over who was available, but we have to remember: Tom Brady was on this team. Belichick didn’t have to risk it on highly touted rookie receivers because Brady elevated mediocre receivers to good ones and good ones to great ones. And while it would’ve been sweet to have some elite receivers to pair with the GOAT, Belichick opted to bolster other positions. And can you argue with the results?
A very, very important thing to remember whenever you attempt to grade any Patriots draft is that Belichick doesn’t look at the draft that same way many of you do. There are many ways to skin a cat (always hated that saying) and Belichick has his own way. He hasn’t needed to extend and risk it all in the draft because he had the GOAT to pick up any slack. And for what it’s worth, he’s done a pretty good job drafting since Brady left. I already went over the 2020 draft, but this year GM Bill seemingly had a great draft. So maybe it’s not that Belichick can’t draft, it’s just that he’s never had to flex those muscles because he’s had Brady.
My overall verdict of the last 5 years of BeliDrafting is that he’s done more good than harm, but does deserve criticism for some skill position players as well as some questionable choices in certain rounds. No coach is great at drafting every position and Belichick isn’t immune to that. But that being said, I can’t look past the alarming amount of injuries in each and every rookie class. Like…that’s a very concerning amount. Partly because the Patriots have always taken risks on guys with somewhat of an injury history (Gronk). But the insane amount of IR trips really just strike me as the Football Gods balancing the scale a bit. Belichick and the Patriots can’t be good at ALL things, can they?
A deep Mac Jones playoff run this year will wipe the slate clean anyway. Buckle up.
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