For the first time in the Belichick Era, the Pats have drafted a wide receiver in the first round. Everyone is very hyped up about this pick, as they should be. The Pats haven’t really tried to add offensive weapons through the draft since Drafting Gronk. N’Keal Harry is a great pick for them to add a big body who is also a great possession player. However, their luck when picking receivers in the draft has not been the greatest. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves before the guy puts on a uniform, so lets look into what the pats have done in drafting wide receivers in recent years.
Aaron Dobson, 2013 – Dobson was the most recent high draft pick the Pats used on a wide receiver. He was a huge disaster. Dobson was supposed to be a great red zone threat for the Pats, and he ended up with the nickname “Aaron Dropson.” The man could not catch a cold, and it was a dark time for talent on this roster when he was a top receiver on the team.
Taylor Price, 2010 – Price was drafted in the third round of the 2010 draft. He was picked right between Gronk and Hernandez and was supposed to join them as a part of the future of this offense. Price ran a 4.4 40 yard dash and was one of the fastest players in the draft. That’s a pretty uncharacteristic pick for the Pats, and it proved to not work out. Price had a total of 3 catches in 2 seasons with the Pats and fizzled out of the league after 2 seasons.
Brandon Tate, 2009 – Tate was another top speed receiver the Pats drafted in the 3rd round. Tate never amounted to much more than a solid return man for the Patriots, which was more than the last 2 guys did for the team. Tate has had a longer career thanks to this, and was even able to muster up some respectable reserve seasons on other teams, but did not live up to his expectations with the Pats.
Chad Jackson, 2006 – Jackson might be the worst example of all. Jackson was a high 2nd round pick and amounted to just about nothing. He was a highly rated prospect out of Florida and ended up a complete whiff by the Pats.
Julian Edelman, 2009 – This is how far back you have to go to find a successful receiver the Patriots drafted. And even at that they could not have gotten much luckier on a 7th round pick. Edelman was drafted after Brandon Tate and well outlived him and has become a staple to this offense.
Deion Branch, 2002 – This is about as far as successful receivers go when it comes to Belichick drafts. Branch ended up a huge target for Brady and eventually won Super Bowl MVP, and had 3 successful stints with the Pats. These are the only two receivers the Pats have drafted that panned out in the Belichick era.
Braxton Berrios, 2018 – Berrios is supposed to be the second coming of Jules, but was hurt all of last season. This year might be his chance to get some playing time, and it will be exciting to see if he can replace Edelman in the near future like Edelman did for Wes Welker.
Malcolm Mitchell, 2016 – The Patriots drafted Mitchell knowing that he had a serious injury history, but he was worth the risk. Without Malcolm Mitchell the Pats might not win Super Bowl 51. He had so many clutch catches in the second half. Then Mitchell never was able to stay healthy and had to retire from the league. You could consider him a bust, but he was a good receiver that will remain unknown.
So, more often than not these receiver picks do not pan out in New England. We can’t get too overexcited about N’Keal Harry, but with low expectations he might end up thriving in this offense. If he can build some rapport with Brady and enter the circle of trust, then he will have a good career.
-Jake Kobierski (@TheRealKobe83)