How the Patriots got where they are: College draft edition

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203Pat

In the Starting Line-Up
What is a bigger myth?

The draft is a crapshoot or teams don't draft for need?

These two might be the biggest out there tho?
I always hate the “draft is a crapshoot” narrative. If you’re throwing darts at names on a board then yes, it’s a crapshoot. If you’re targeting players based on film, measurables, fit in your scheme, and character then it shouldn’t be a crapshoot. It will never be an exact science but it’s far from a crapshoot. Tons of time and money is invested into each teams draft process for it to just boil down to luck in the early rounds. The later rounds are a different story and a lot of times scouts/coaches like something about a guy and they take a flier on him in round 6 or 7.
 

captain stone

Pro Bowl Player
What is a bigger myth?

The draft is a crapshoot or teams don't draft for need?

These two might be the biggest out there tho?
I was recently looking at a thread in the draft forum from last year titled who among WRs is First Round-worthy, and a not-insignificant majority had AJ Brown ahead of Everybody else including Kneal, Harry...How did so many of us, with our limited resources, get it right while Billy, with all of his resources, get it so wrong?

Draft is a Crapshoot my ass...Not with the 32nd pick out of 256 should it be.
 

BaconGrundleCandy

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I was recently looking at a thread in the draft forum from last year titled who among WRs is First Round-worthy, and a not-insignificant majority had AJ Brown ahead of Everybody else including Kneal, Harry...How did so many of us, with our limited resources, get it right while Billy, with all of his resources, get it so wrong?

Draft is a Crapshoot my ass...Not with the 32nd pick out of 256 should it be.
Definitely agree about it being a crapshoot. That's an outdated argument with what we know about theses prospects.
I think it's crazy to give up on Harry though. For the most part you want a WR to ...
1)Breakout at an early age
2)Show consistent production
3)Have traits that translate & an upside trait they're good at but can improve upon
4)Pass combine test

Harry passed all of those.

Again too early to give up on him imo.
 

1960Pats

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A first round draft pick stolen in a media witch hunt, in a relatively small sample size (20%, five years) is going to be highly impactful on the negative side.

So are injuries (Antonio Garcia, Malcolm Mitchell) that leave a team with zero, and others (Wynn) that cause major issues when combined with Plan B (Veldheer) retiring.


That being said, there certainly seems to be an alarming number of early round (1-3) misses going beyond the 2015 cutoff, even after taking injuries into consideration.

(Number in parenthesis is the total number of draft picks the Pats had that year in the first three rounds.)

2008 (4): Terrence Wheatley, Shawn Crable, Kevin O'Connell
2009 (6): Ron Brace, Brandon Tate, Tyrone McKenzie
2010 (5): Jermaine Cunningham, Taylor Price
2011 (5): Ras-I Dowling, Ryan Mallett
2012 (4): Tavon Wilson, Jake Bequette
2013 (4): Aaron Dobson
2014 (2): Dominique Easley
2015 (3): Jordan Richards, Geneo Grissom
2016 (4): Cyrus Jones, Vincent Valentine
2017 (2): Derek Rivers, Antonio Garcia


It's too early to tell for the last two drafts, but thus far it does not look very promising. Two to four contributors depending on how full or empty your glass is, and four others that don't inspire any confidence:

2018 1st round: Isaiah Wynn, Sony Michel
2018 2nd round: Duke Dawson
2018 3rd round: no pick
2019 1st round: N'Keal Harry
2019 2nd round: Joejuan Williams
2019 3rd round: Chase Winovich, Damien Harris, Yodny Cajuste


One other thing that jumps out is how late the Patriots drafted in consecutive years, 2016 and 2017. The previous year they stood pat, choosing Malcom Brown, Jordan Richards and Geneo Grissom at the end of each round. In 2016 the Pats had zero picks from 1-59, then made Cyrus Jones their first selection. The following year the Pats did not make a pick until #83, and only two in the top 130: Rivers and Garcia.

Those bad back-to-back drafts in 2016-17 look to be the issue more than anything else. Lost first and fourth round picks to Roger, traded a first and third for Brandin Cooks, then when selections are finally made it is Cyrus Jones, etc.


Edit
: another issue was mishandling the Jimmy Garoppolo trade. Due to the timing the Pats received less than they otherwise would have got in return (a 2nd round pick).

The trade actually looks worse because instead of a single second round draft bust to lament, there are seven draftees that arrived due to that exchange that have yet to produce in a meaningful way.

That 2nd got traded down or out to the next year (JoeJuan Williams), resulting in multiple picks that are either already gone (Christian Sam, Duke Dawson) or have yet to contribute (Damien Harris, Yodny Cajuste, Jarrett Stidham, weekly healthy scratch Byron Cowart. The Pats have one more chance to salvage something from that deal, with a 2020 fourth round pick from that trade.
IMHO, one thing that lessens the impact of those poor drafts and lost picks is free agency. In 2001 the Pats turned things around almost overnight with quite a few FA pickups. Maybe the same thing can happen now.
 

1960Pats

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I always hate the “draft is a crapshoot” narrative. If you’re throwing darts at names on a board then yes, it’s a crapshoot. If you’re targeting players based on film, measurables, fit in your scheme, and character then it shouldn’t be a crapshoot. It will never be an exact science but it’s far from a crapshoot. Tons of time and money is invested into each teams draft process for it to just boil down to luck in the early rounds. The later rounds are a different story and a lot of times scouts/coaches like something about a guy and they take a flier on him in round 6 or 7.
I think the later picks are important because it gives a team the first shot at those players.

As for the crapshoot narrative, what makes it difficult is the fact that your looking at players that are competing against non-pro players and it's difficult to predict how that will translate to the NYFL.

You also have the workout warrior affect, which is a very real phenomena. Throw in the fact that players of such a young age mature at different speeds and it becomes even more difficult.

That's why the NYFL HOF has plenty of members who weren't top picks.
 

203Pat

In the Starting Line-Up
I think the later picks are important because it gives a team the first shot at those players.

As for the crapshoot narrative, what makes it difficult is the fact that your looking at players that are competing against non-pro players and it's difficult to predict how that will translate to the NYFL.

You also have the workout warrior affect, which is a very real phenomena. Throw in the fact that players of such a young age mature at different speeds and it becomes even more difficult.

That's why the NYFL HOF has plenty of members who weren't top picks.
I think the later round picks are important as well. Those are guys that have less pressure on them to be superstars right out of the gate. Granted they have to worry about making the roster but there is always the practice squad that they can learn and develop on. Cheap young talent you can get practicing with the team that if they end up as a contributor it’s basically a bonus.
I agree with you about the crapshoot aspect of the draft but I just don’t subscribe to the notion that we missed on so many picks recently because it’s a crapshoot. I can’t just shrug my shoulders and say “oh well that just happens”. Yes every team will draft busts. Every team will draft underwhelming players. Not every team manages to draft only one Pro Bowl level starter in the last 4 drafts. Any way you split it we’ve had a rough patch of drafts the last few years and it put us in a rough spot this offseason.
 

scott99

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
I've lost most of my hair because of Patriot's drafts. I don't know why I even follow the draft anymore, but once a draft fanatic, you never change. I just know I'll most likely not be happy with the picks.

Oddly enough, Sony Michel was my favorite player for the Pats in the 2018 draft, was beyond thrilled when they drafted him. It was the first time ever the Pats drafted my favorite player in the draft. Had a great rookie season, unfortunately, he's not who he was in college. But I doubt we win the SB in 2018 without him.

I was somewhat happy with the 2019 picks, I wanted a WR in the 1st round, they just picked the wrong one, and didn't double dip when we needed to.

Unfortunately, even though they didn't have much draft capital, they still found a way to screw up the 2017 draft. Derek Rivers and Antonio Garcia in the 3rd round, one pick after Garcia, the Chiefs picked Kareem Hunt. Deatrich Wise was a good pick in the 4th round, but 15 picks later, George Kittle is picked by SF.
 

203Pat

In the Starting Line-Up
I’m far from writing off anyone in the 2019 class but it’s just disappointing when a team has high round picks as healthy scratches on a roster that is far from loaded.
 

BaconGrundleCandy

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I’m far from writing off anyone in the 2019 class but it’s just disappointing when a team has high round picks as healthy scratches on a roster that is far from loaded.
Besides Harris I'm not sure who we could expect to crack the starting lineup?

That's always something I look at when judging drafts. Sure they might not have played but are rosters considered? There are a lot of players getting playing time solely based on where they were picked. A lot tougher when you have HT, Gilmore, Jones, Jackson etc in front of you.
 

203Pat

In the Starting Line-Up
Besides Harris I'm not sure who we could expect to crack the starting lineup?

That's always something I look at when judging drafts. Sure they might not have played but are rosters considered? There are a lot of players getting playing time solely based on where they were picked. A lot tougher when you have HT, Gilmore, Jones, Jackson etc in front of you.
To me that is also a factor in why I am not thrilled with the draft class. I don’t know why we spent high picks on two of our deepest positions when we had so many areas of need.
 

BaconGrundleCandy

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To me that is also a factor in why I am not thrilled with the draft class. I don’t know why we spent high picks on two of our deepest positions when we had so many areas of need.
Fair. I'm sure we thought of them as a combo of BPA & future needs with guys leaving?
 

203Pat

In the Starting Line-Up
Fair. I'm sure we thought of them as a combo of BPA & future needs with guys leaving?
I assumed Harris was Sony insurance after we ended up with Patterson playing RB with Hill gone so I wasn’t surprised. I just don’t really like spending an early pick on an insurance guy at a position where there are almost always serviceable players available in free agency.

As for Williams I didn’t really get the pick then and I don’t really get it now. At the time Jon Jones was in his last year but Williams isn’t a slot guy to my knowledge. I guess maybe they thought he would replace J McCourty if he doesn’t re-sign but I’d assume that will be JC Jackson so it seems like either way Williams was destined to be a deep depth guy.
If we weren’t completely barren at TE, didn’t need some speed at receiver, and didn’t need some big DT’s along with some LB’s to replace Van Noy and Collins if they bail then I’d say take guys like Williams and Harris.
 

IllegalContact

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Patriot SB winning success based more on free agency/vets than draft

if you go year by year, generally, the difference between winning it all came down to the acquired veterans more than the rookies of that year.
 

scott99

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
I assumed Harris was Sony insurance after we ended up with Patterson playing RB with Hill gone so I wasn’t surprised. I just don’t really like spending an early pick on an insurance guy at a position where there are almost always serviceable players available in free agency.

As for Williams I didn’t really get the pick then and I don’t really get it now. At the time Jon Jones was in his last year but Williams isn’t a slot guy to my knowledge. I guess maybe they thought he would replace J McCourty if he doesn’t re-sign but I’d assume that will be JC Jackson so it seems like either way Williams was destined to be a deep depth guy.
If we weren’t completely barren at TE, didn’t need some speed at receiver, and didn’t need some big DT’s along with some LB’s to replace Van Noy and Collins if they bail then I’d say take guys like Williams and Harris.
I think it's well documented that I hated the Williams pick. My only thought is, maybe Belichick saw Williams as a safety when he drafted him. He's got good size and length to cover TEs, not good speed at all, but TE like speed. Maybe it was a future pick when McCourty's and Chung's ages are factored in. Otherwise, it was a horrible pick, but that is the only scenario I could think of. He's certainly not fast enough to be a starting lockdown CB.
 

scott99

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
Patriot SB winning success based more on free agency/vets than draft

if you go year by year, generally, the difference between winning it all came down to the acquired veterans more than the rookies of that year.
There have been key guys who have been decent to key factors in the SB years. Malcolm Mitchel and Sony Michel for instance (especially Michel) in recent years. Then I think of Seymour, Light and Wilfork playing major roles as rookies in SB winning seasons. Dan Koppen & Eugene Wilson are 2 others I can think of.
 

tasmlab

Starting QB, won 20 SBs, number is retired
PatsFans.com Supporter
Don't know how this fits in, but here's the players on the 2019 roster who were either drafted or UFDA'd by Belichick:

Brady
Stidham
Bolden
Harris
Michel
White
Edelman
Harry
Meyers
Slater
Izzo
Watson
Cannon
Ferentz
Karras
Mason
Thuney
Wynn
Butler
Coward
Winovich
Wise
Bentley
Collins
Hightower
Roberts
Chung
Ebner
Harmon
Jackson
Jones
McCourty
Williams
Baily
Cardona
Andres
Cajuste
Davis
Develin
Froholdt
Gostowski
Johnson
King
Olszewski
Rivers


The list would probably be as long if you did 2016, 2017 or 2018, when they went to the super bowl.

I know BB drafts look terrible, but I still have to defer to him on building a successful team. The 2019 12-4 squad was really just two players and some health away from being competitive to the end.
 

captain stone

Pro Bowl Player
Patriot SB winning success based more on free agency/vets than draft

if you go year by year, generally, the difference between winning it all came down to the acquired veterans more than the rookies of that year.
And sometimes the difference between losing it all came down to the sub-replacement-level JAG wannabes (Eric Alexander, Pierre Woods, Chris Harper et. al.) because the rookies & other recently drafted players sucked.
 

Deus Irae

PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club
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I know BB drafts look terrible, but I still have to defer to him on building a successful team. The 2019 12-4 squad was really just two players and some health away from being competitive to the end.
We won't actually know how good BB is at consistent team building until he's stuck with a lesser QB.
 
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