While usually leading the Patriots deep into the playoffs in late January or early February, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has repeatedly had “less time” to prepare for the Draft than most NFL teams. With a Wild Card loss to the Tennessee Titans in early January of 2020, Belichick has had almost an extra month of offseason time to plan than he has become accustomed. Lets take a look at how Belichick has drafted in his 20 years with the New England Patriots
The Patriots had no first round pick and drafted tackle Adrian Klemm in the second round. With the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Belichick and the Patriots selected Michigan quarterback Tom Brady, thereby creating the greatest coach and QB duo in NFL history.
With the highest pick he has ever had with the Patriots, Belichick used the sixth overall selection to take DL Richard Seymour. Seymour dominated the line of scrimmage for the Patriots like no other. Since then, Seymour has made several appearances on the finalists ballot for the Patriots Hall and Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also selected that year was Patriots Hall of Famer, Matt Light. Light protected Brady’s blind side for more than a decade and helped the Patriots offensive line dominate opponents on the ground and in the air.
Coming off their first Super Bowl Championship, the Patriots began to solidify their depth chart with extremely talented players. The selections of TE Daniel Graham and WR Deion Branch gave the offense and Brady a surplus of new targets. David Givens, a seventh round choice, emerged in his second season. Defensive lineman Jarvis Green proved to be an impact player in a rotation on the line.
Another slew of critical starters and role players were selected in 2003. The defensive side of the ball saw an uplift with the selections of DL Ty Warren, DB Eugene Wilson, C Dan Koppen and LB Tully Banta-Cain. The addition of a late fourth round cornerback, Asante Samuel, gave the Patriots a solid nickel back who emerged into a lock down corner. Other notable selections: WR Bethel Johnson and DT Dan Klecko
The Patriots landed beloved DL Vince Wilfork in the 2004 Draft. Wilfork made the middle of the Patriots defensive line immovable for years. Constantly plugging and closing gaps, Wilfork disrupted the opponents’ ground attack. The offense also landed a big target in TE Benjamin Watson with the last pick in the first round. Other notable selections: A second round pick traded to Cincinnati for RB Corey Dillon.
The offensive line saw some upgrades in the offseason following the Patriots third Super Bowl championship. First round G Logan Mankins gave the front five some ferocious power while running the ball and in protection. A speedy returner in Ellis Hobbs gave the Patriots special teams a boost. Other notable selections: T Nick Kaczur and QB Matt Cassel.
First round running back Laurence Maroney saw some success early on in his career, playing an important role in the historic 2007 Patriots offense. The franchise did see a changing of the guard at the kicking position with the departure of Adam Vinatieri, but those shoes were filled successfully in this Draft. Stephen Gostkowski took over kicking duties and went on to become the franchise all-time points leader.
Safety Brandon Meriweather stands at the top of this draft as the first round pick who earned a couple Pro Bowl berths. It was three draft picks this year that really turned the offense around — trading a second and seventh round pick for WR Wes Welker and a fourth round pick for WR Randy Moss.
Two near-perfect Patriots were selected in the 2008 NFL Draft. Future team captains LB Jerod Mayo and ST Matthew Slater gave the Patriots incredible leadership. This draft helped develop the next wave of the Patriots Dynasty.
It was the 232nd pick in this draft that really took the Patriots to the next level. Seventh round college QB-turned-WR, Julian Edelman became one of most productive receivers in franchise history. Alongside Edelman, starting OT Sebastian Vollmer and S Patrick Chung were selected, and both established themselves as legitimate starters for the team.
The Patriots made quite a few moves during the 2010 NFL Draft, trading away 10 draft picks and selecting 12 players. It was one of Belichick’s busiest Drafts with the Patriots. First round DB Devin McCourty started for the Patriots defensive backfield for a decade and quickly became a playmaker and leader. The tight end position saw a complete overhaul in 2010 with the selection of future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski. Gronk was selected in the second round and gave the Patriots and Brady a dominant red zone threat . Other notable selections: LB Jermaine Cunningham, LB Brandon Spikes, P Zoltan Mesko.
With Matt Light’s retirement, the Patriots addressed the offensive tackle position with the selections of Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon. Behind those lead blockers, RBs Shane Vereen an Stevan Ridley were seadded. The Patriots had some new threats on the ground and in the air. Other notable selection: QB Ryan Mallett.
The pass rush and a stout linebacker were areas of focus for the Patriots in the 2012 NFL Draft. With two first round selections, the Patriots added DE Chandler Jones and LB Dont’a Hightower. Jones was a speed edge rusher who remains an excellent pass rusher with the Cardinals while Hightower has helped lead a defense to three Super Bowl titles. The addition of core special teamer Nate Ebner also gave the Patriots depth. Other notable selections: DB Tavon Wilson and CB Alfonzo Dennard.
The defense saw a spike in athleticism from the class of 2013. Linebacker Jamie Collins, CB Logan Ryan and S Duron Harmon gave Belichick’s defense some pass rush, coverage and speed. The offense saw an attempt to revamp its wideout core with second round pick Aaron Dobson and fourth round pick Josh Boyce, but neither had a significant long-term impact.
Offensive depth was added with a few picks in 2014. The offensive line gained a sure-handed center in Bryan Stork and a flexible tackle in Cameron Fleming. The Patriots drafted QB Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round – the highest Belichick has selected a player at that position. The biggest addition was RB James White. White blossomed into an elite dual threat back and is annually among the best in the league when combining running and receiving. White became a go-to targets in almost any situation.
The line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball, was addressed in 2015. On defense, run stopping DT Malcolm Brown and stout DE Trey Flowers were added to Patriots front. Guard Shaq Mason was also picked and became a starter. Other notable selections: LS Joe Cardona, S Jordan Richards, DL Geneo Grissom and G Tre’ Jackson.
Despite forfeiting their first round selection, the Patriots continued to build their championship depth in 2016. The additions of LG Joe Thuney, WR Malcolm Mitchell and QB Jacoby Brissett gave the Patriots offense some depth. Linebacker Elandon Roberts and DL Vinvent Valentine proved to be solid assets for an aggressive defense. Other notable selections: CB Cyrus Jones and OL Ted Karras.
The Patriots did not select until the third round in 2017 and made an effort to improve their pass rush. Defensive ends Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise Jr. were selected. Rivers has battled injuries while Wise has added depth while making contributions.
The Patriots drafted RB Sony Michel in the first round, and he helped them to a Super Bowl title in his rookie season. Tackle Isaiah Wynn missed his rookie year but looked steady in 2019. LB Ja’Whaun Bentley had a promising start in 2018 before heading to injured reserve, but contributed in 2019.
Last year’s class has some young talent that is developing but has the potential to provide more significant contributions. Edge rusher Chase Winovich improved steadily and P Jake Bailey beat out veteran Ryan Allen to take over the punting duties. Many players still have a lot to prove — WR N’Keal Harry, CB Joejuan Williams, RB Damien Harris, OL Yondy Cajuste and Hjalte Froholdt and QB Jarrett Stidham.