What’s the Best Draft of the Bill Belichick Era in New England?


Yesterday, I asked you what the worst draft of the Bill Belichick Era in New England was, and you can still vote in the poll by going HERE. Today, I ask you what the best draft of the Bill Belichick Era was, and thankfully there are more drafts to choose from this time. These drafts have combinations of impact players, solid contributors, and guys still showing promise in New England. A key ingredient here is that these drafts produced multiple contributors to the Patriots, and you may be surprised by the amount of impact players from some of these drafts.

Let’s get to the nominees!

2002

  • Round 1: TE Daniel Graham
  • Round 2: WR Deion Branch
  • Round 4: QB Rohan Davey
  • Round 4: DL Jarvis Green
  • Round 7: RB Antoine Womack
  • Round 7: WR David Givens

Less was more in 2002, as 4 out of 6 picks became solid contributors to the Patriots. Without this draft and the following one, we likely do not see the Pats win two more Super Bowls after their first in 2001. Both of Brady’s go-to guys in the Dynasty Era, Deion Branch and David Givens, were drafted here with Givens being a late-round gem. Graham was a solid TE and Jarvis Green was a vital cog in the defensive line rotation for years.

2003

  • Round 1: DL Ty Warren
  • Round 2: DB Eugene Wilson
  • Round 2: WR Bethel Johnson
  • Round 4: DL/FB Dan Klecko
  • Round 4: CB Asante Samuel
  • Round 5: C Dan Koppen
  • Round 6: QB Kliff Kingsbury
  • Round 7: TE Spencer Nead
  • Round 7: LB Tully Banta-Cain
  • Round 7: NT Ethan Kelley

Rounds 1 through 5 each produced contributors to the team. Ty Warren has been an anchor at DE, Eugene Wilson was vital taking over at safety after the departure of Lawyer Milloy, Bethel Johnson never panned out as a wide receiver but had some exciting kick-off returns, Dan Klecko became a good lead blocker as a fullback, Asante Samuel is one of the best corner in th eleague still, and Dan Koppen has been the Pats’ center since he was drafted. That’s an impressive haul. In Round 7, Tully Banta-Cain became a solid contributor converting from DE to OLB.

2005

  • Round 1: G Logan Mankins
  • Round 3: CB Ellis Hobbs
  • Round 3: T Nick Kaczur
  • Round 4: S James Sanders
  • Round 5: OLB Ryan Claridge
  • Round 7: QB Matt Cassel
  • Round 7: TE Andy Stokes

Mankins was called a reach when he was drafted but has developed into the Patriots’ best offensive lineman. Hobbs was a good corner and Kaczur has been a solid right tackle until his recent back injury. James Sanders has had an up-and-down career but had a very good 2010, and QB Matt Cassel was able to lead the Pats to an 11-5 record when Brady went down in 2008 and has since become the leader of the Kansas City Chiefs and a Pro Bowler. The Pats were able to parlay Cassel later on into a second-round draft pick.

2009

  • Round 2: S Patrick Chung
  • Round 2: DL Ron Brace
  • Round 2: CB Darius Butler
  • Round 2: T Sebastian Vollmer
  • Round 3: WR Brandon Tate
  • Round 3: LB Tyrone McKenzie
  • Round 4: G Rich Ohrnberger
  • Round 5: OL George Bussey
  • Round 6: LS Jake Ingram
  • Round 6: DL Myron Pryor
  • Round 7: WR Julian Edelman
  • Round 7: DL Darryl Richard

Many of the players from this draft, like Ron Brace, Darius Butler, and Myron Pryor, we just don’t know if they’ll become solid contributors to the team. Both have the athletic ability to do so and have shown flashes at times, but either due to injury or poor play, they can’t seem to be regulars on the roster. However, there are several players that have become regulars in the game-day roster. Pat Chung is on the verge of becoming an upper echelon safety, same goes for Sebastian Vollmer among offensive tackles, Brandon Tate has been special as a kick returner but the jury’s out on his WR contributions, Rich Ohrnberger is a solid depth player and Julian Edelman has been a surprise spark on the team on punt returns and as a third or fourth WR. He may be the heir apparent to Wes Welker some day. Only McKenzie, Bussey, and Ingram are no longer on the team.

2010

  • Round 1: CB Devin McCourty
  • Round 2: TE Rob Gronkowski
  • Round 2: OLB Jermaine Cunningham
  • Round 2: ILB Brandon Spikes
  • Round 3: WR Taylor Price
  • Round 4: TE Aaron Hernandez
  • Round 5: P Zoltan Mesko
  • Round 6: OL Ted Larsen
  • Round 7: OL Thomas Welch
  • Round 7: Brandon Deaderick
  • Round 7: Zac Robinson

If the Patriots do not have the draft they had in 2010, they do not go 14-2 that season. I know they’ve only been in the league one year, but we’ve seen plenty what this class is capable of, as many have been called upon early to be regular contributors. McCourty went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Gronkowski found the end zone 10 times while Hernandez caught 45 balls and scored 6 times. Cunningham spent the season transitioning from DE to OLB and showed signs of becoming a good player, Brandon Spikes may become the second-best LB on this team (behind Jerod Mayo) if he can stay out of trouble, and Brandon Deaderick could also become a solid defensive lineman if he too can stay out of trouble. Zoltan Mesko stepped right in as the Patriots’ sole punter. Ted Larsen, cut by the Pats, went on to start 11 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What do you think? Which draft was the best?

What was the best draft of the Bill Belichick Era in New England?

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Tags: 2002 NFL Draft 2003 NFL Draft 2005 NFL Draft 2009 NFL Draft 2010 NFL Draft Bill Belichick New England Patriots NFL Patriots Draft Picks