Draft Grader: New England Patriots
In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been going back over the 2008, 2009, and 2010 draft class of each franchise and assigning each pick a grade. Up next? Well, that’s the New England Patriots.
Each pick between the 2008 and 2010 draft classes has earned a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors, such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Let’s take a look at how New England drafted.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
They already had Tom Brady!
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
Sebastian Vollmer, T (58th overall pick in 2009): The durability problems are a worry, but Vollmer is as good a right tackle as there is in the league. Capable (as he showed early in his career) of playing on the left side, the German native has earned a +82.0 grade in his four years in the league.
Rob Gronkowski, TE (42nd overall pick in 2010): What can you say about our top-ranked tight end from 2011 and 2012? A good blocker (unlike most of his tight end peers), Gronkowski is a difference-maker running routes. There are few like him, even if you are worried about his arm at the moment.
Aaron Hernandez, TE (113th overall pick in 2010): If Gronkowski is a serious problem for defenders, Hernandez might be even more of a headache for defensive coordinators. You don’t know where the Patriots will line him up, but you know they’re likely going to find a way to get the ball in his hands, and that means trouble for you. Not as complete, he’s more destructive with the ball in hand.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Jerod Mayo, LB (10th overall pick in 2008): Mayo has got better and better since entering the league, and is one of the key players in the New England defense. Has handled the switch in defensive schemes seamlessly and was our second-ranked 4-3 outside linebacker last year.
Devin McCourty, CB (27th overall pick in 2010): A strong rookie year was followed up by a disappointing 2011. Still, in 2012 he coped when asked to play cornerback or safety and is the most reliable player in the Pats’ secondary.
Brandon Spikes, LB (62nd overall pick in 2010): Spikes is never going to be the best linebacker in coverage. That’s established now. But getting a guy where the Patriots picked him up who is such a handful in the run game is tremendous value. His +35.0 run defense grade in three years is superb.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Matt Slater, WR (153rd overall pick in 2008): A little used receiver, a surprise starter at safety (in 2011) and a special teams ace. Slater hasn’t surpassed his status as a fifth-round pick, but his constant contributions (in one way or another) over a five-year period make this a positive.
Myron Pryor, DT (207th overall pick in 2009): A former sixth-rounder, Pryor has shown an ability to get up field and make plays. It’s just a shame he’s been limited to 402 snaps with injuries slowing him down.
Julian Edelman, WR (232nd overall pick in 2009): It hasn’t always been pretty but Edelman has always contributed for the Pats, whether it be on special teams, offense, or even defense. Good value from a seventh-rounder.
Zoltan Mesko, P (150th overall pick in 2010): Mesko has been a good player for the Patriots, though some might hope for a little more than ‘good’ when you spend a pick on a punter.
Brandon Deaderick, DE (247th overall pick in 2010): Has done well to eat up playing time since coming into the league, even if you get the impression the Patriots would be better served using him less. Still, even if he’s a rotational body then that’s more than you get out of most seventh-rounders.
0.0: It could have been worse
Bo Ruud, LB (197th overall pick in 2008): Missed his first year on injured reserve before being cut in 2009.
George Bussey, G (170th overall pick in 2009): Missed his rookie year with a knee injury and was then cut a year later.
Jake Ingram, LS (198th overall pick in 2009): Lasted a season as the Pats’ long snapper before being cut.
Darryl Richard, DT (234th overall pick in 2009): Spent his rookie year on the practice squad and his sophomore season on injured reserve before being cut in September ’11.
Ted Larsen, C (205th overall pick in 2010): Likely ticketed for the Patriots’ practice squad before Bucs snapped him off it.
Thomas Welch, T (208th overall pick in 2010): Just 42 snaps on the field for New England before returning to a practice squad he was subsequently stolen off by St Louis.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Shawn Crable, LB (78th overall pick in 2008): Spent most of his first two years in the league on injured reserve, and then when he was healthy produced nothing. Cut after 129 defensive snaps with the club. Pats get something of a pass because you just can’t tell how much injury cut into his potential.
Jonathan Wilhite, CB (129th overall pick in 2008): The former fourth-round pick was something of a constant liability in his first two years, before showing some improvement in year three. Still, his -16.4 grade with the Patriots over 1,132 snaps explains why he’s no longer with New England.
Patrick Chung, S (34th overall pick in 2009): Picking up a safety at the top of the second round of any draft, you want them to develop into a solid starter. Chung was given opportunities to be the every-down starter but the Patriots lost faith in him.
Darius Butler, CB (41st overall pick in 2009): There was plenty to like about the rookie year of Butler, who had his ups and downs but looked like a competent No. 2 cornerback in the making. Unfortunately, he developed a knack for making bad plays, which overshadowed a lot of good work he did and he was let go by New England.
Brandon Tate, WR (83rd overall pick in 2009): In 577 snaps for the Patriots over two years the former third-round pick notched up just 24 catches for 432 yards. A couple of touchdowns on kick returns save this somewhat, but Tate never delivered on what the Patriots really needed him to be.
Tyrone McKenzie, LB (97th overall pick in 2009): Who knows what might have been after McKenzie tore his ACL in his first offseason minicamp. Never got on the field and was released from the practice squad two months after making it there.
Rich Ohrnberger, G (123rd overall pick in 2009): Waived after his rookie year and brought back to the practice squad, Ohrnberger managed 56 snaps for New England before they gave up on him.
Jermaine Cunningham, DE/LB (53rd overall pick in 2010): After an encouraging rookie year the Patriots seem to have soured on Cunningham. Using him as a pass rushing defensive tackle in their nickel and dime packages didn’t produce the desired results, and it’s hard to see how he’s going to fit in going forward.
Kade Weston, DT (248th overall pick in 2010): Released months after being drafted, Weston didn’t even make the practice squad.
Zac Robinson, QB (250th overall pick in 2010): Patriots didn’t think enough of him to put him on their practice squad as a rookie.
-1.0: What a waste!
Terrence Wheatley, CB (62nd overall pick in 2008): A second-round pick who played just 100 snaps. Sure, he missed most of his rookie year on injured reserve, but it’s telling how little he played when he was healthy.
Kevin O’Connell, QB (94th overall pick in 2008): Seemed like a bit of a reach at the time, and given how quickly the Pats cut the cord on this third-round pick, was a waste of a valuable selection. Waived after a year with the team.
Ron Brace, DT (40th overall pick in 2009): The former second-rounder has struggled to make much of an impact for the Patriots, managing just 494 career snaps and earning a -6.2 grade in the process. Missing time through injury only accounts for some of the reason why he’s struggled to get on the field.
Taylor Price, WR (90th overall pick in 2010): Just 41 total snaps and three receptions for the former third-rounder. One of the few failures from the 2010 class.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
No Russell/Leaf hybrids in this draft.
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