The Patriots’ poor drafting has left them with a roster that lacks young talent. Can Bill Belichick re-tool a team that may lose Tom Brady in free agency?
When Bill Belichick built the first edition of the New England Patriots dynasty, it was done largely through the draft.
Sure, The Hoodie inherited established veterans like Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Ty Law, and Lawyer Milloy. Even Troy Brown and Adam Vinatieri were holdovers from previous regimes.
But by and large, Belichick — along with Scott Pioli –constructed the team through scouting, drafting, and developing homegrown talent.
Besides Tom Brady, who they famously found in the sixth round in 2000, the Belichick-Pioli tandem also added Richard Seymour and Matt Light in 2001, added Daniel Graham and Deion Branch in 2002, and then knocked the 2003 draft out of the park with Ty Warren, Eugene Wilson, Asante Samuel, and Dan Koppen.
The following year, New England scooped up burly nose tackle Vince Wilfork with the 21st pick before nabbing Ben Watson with the final pick of the first round. A year later, the Patriots found four starters, including Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins at pick no. 32.
After a few years of middling returns, the Patriots seemed to right the ship from 2010-2013. During that period, they found core building blocks in Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, Nate Solder, Shane Vereen, Marcus Cannon, Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan, and Duron Harmon.
That core, which also included Jimmy Garoppolo and James White from the 2014 class, laid the foundation for the last three Super Bowl championships.
However, as the 2020 offseason gets underway, the Patriots roster suddenly looks thin on young talent, and fat on aging, expensive veterans.
The root cause? Bad drafting.
To fully understand just how much draft capital the Patriots have squandered in the last five years, we have to take a deep dive into each class and painfully accept the results.
Now, that’s not to say the Patriots completely whiffed on every pick since 2015. But for the most part, Belichick and personnel executive Nick Caserio have failed to find impact players in the early rounds.
While Seymour, Wilfork, and Warren all earned second contracts in New England, first-round defensive linemen Dominique Easley (2014) and Malcom Brown (2015) never got that chance. As for the receiver spot… let’s just say it hasn’t been pretty.
Let’s take a closer look at the last five draft classes to understand why the Patriots are in such a precarious position as we head into free agency and the draft.