Apr 25, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New England Patriots former player Joe Andruzzi (left) and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell make a Boston Strong presentation during the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens: The Last Five NFL Drafts

 

Last week, I submitted my first article to Musket Fire. The article outlined some of the potential factors that have led the Patriots astray during, what’s now become, a decade long Super Bowl drought. The NFL Draft was one such factor.

Although the topic was covered to some extent, a more thorough analysis may help bridge the gap between those that support the players chosen by the Patriots in the draft, and those that don’t. 

First, a disclaimer: it’s almost impossible to go back and determine—precisely—which teams have succeeded in the draft. There are too many factors that can impact any given pick.

That said, draft evaluations aren’t a useless exercise. In fact, through proper analysis, I believe one can evaluate a team’s success to a pretty high degree. For this exercise, I’ve analyzed every pick the Patriots have made in the last five years. Then, I analyzed every pick the Baltimore Ravens made over the last five years. *Note, I chose the Ravens because they’re generally considered the best when it comes to evaluating talent in the draft. Yes, the San Francisco 49ers have been great in recent years. Yes, the Seattle Seahawks have been great in recent years. That said, Ozzie Newsome (General Manager of the Ravens) is widely considered the brightest mind when it comes to the draft.*

The methodology used to evaluate each pick is discussed below.

Each player is listed according to where they were ACTUALLY drafted. Each player receives a “color.” In determining what color a player is afforded, the following methodology was used:

·        Players that receive a “green rating” are those that met, or exceeded expectations (in relation to where they were selected);

·        Players that receive a “blue rating” are those that may, or may not have met expectations (in relation to where they were selected); and

·        Players that receive a “red rating” are those that did not live up to expectations (in relation to where they were selected).

 

In determining what “color” a player receives, the following guidelines were used.

 

Players Selected in the first round (Top 10) that meet, or exceed expectations generally:

·        Start immediately;

·        Become one of the best players on the team as a rookie;

·        Become one of the best players in the NFL at his position;

·        Make multiple Pro Bowls

 

Players selected in the first round (Picks 11-32) that meet, or exceed expectations generally:

·        Start at some point during their rookie season;

·        Become one of the best players on the team (at his position) as a rookie;

·        Become one of the best players on the team;

·        Make a Pro Bowl

 

Players selected in the second round that meet, or exceed expectations generally:

·        Immediately contribute to the team’s success;

·        Start early on in their career;

·        Become one of the best players on the team (at his position)

 

Players selected in the third round that meet, or exceed expectations generally:

·        Contribute to the team’s success;

·        Start games at some point in their career;

·        Become one of the best backup players on the team (at his position)

 

Players selected in the fourth round that meet, or exceed expectations generally:

·        Become a worthy backup (won’t be overwhelmed if forced to spot start);

·        Stick with the team throughout their rookie contract

 

Players selected in the fifth round that meet, or exceed expectations generally:

·        Contribute in some capacity to the team’s success during their career;

·        Contribute on Special Teams;

·        Stick with the team throughout their rookie year

 

Players selected in the sixth round that meet, or exceed expectations generally:

·        Make it out of training camp;

·        Contribute on special teams

 

Players selected in the seventh round that meet, or exceed expectations generally:

·        Potentially make the practice squad;

·        Avoid getting cut before training camp

 

Further, the following factors were also considered: (1) whether the team re-signed the player (2) whether the team selected the correct player as determined by players of the same position selected later in the draft (3) known character/injury concerns coming out of college that resurfaced in the NFL. In providing analysis of each pick, if any of the three factors were of importance, it was noted.  

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

 

Players Chosen in the First Round (1-10):

 

·        Jerod Mayo – 2008 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. 1 All-Pro selection. 2 Pro Bowl selections. Defensive leader. Led the NFL in combined tackles in 2010. Low sack/interception totals aren’t enough to diminish what’s been—to this point—a stellar career.

 

Players Chosen in the First Round (11-32)

 

 

·       Chandler Jones – A true three-down player for the Patriots. Excellent run-defender. Brings a much-needed pass-rush presence. Played over 95% of the defensive snaps for the Patriots in 2013. Still an incomplete player: marginal production in the second half of the 2013 season.

 

·       Dont’a Hightower – Some will argue that Hightower deserves a “blue rating.” Some will argue that he even deserves a “red rating.” Objectively speaking, though, Hightower played much better during the 2013 season than many fans seem to give him credit for. Incredibly versatile; can play all three linebacker spots. Should continue to improve moving forward. Will also benefit from Mayo’s return to the lineup.

 

·       Devin McCourty – Pro Bowl appearance in his rookie season. Struggled in year two. Converted to safety and hasn’t looked back. One of the best young safeties in the NFL. Team captain.

 

Players Chosen in the Second Round

 

·       Rob Gronkowski – It’s hard to over-look the injuries. It’s even harder to overlook the fact that—at full strength—Gronkowski is the best TE in the NFL.

 

·       Sebastian Vollmer – A somewhat surprising pick in the second round of the 2009 draft. Second-team All-Pro in 2010. Signed a four-year deal in 2013. Missed a majority of the 2013 season. Will look to regain his status as one of the best right tackles in the NFL.

 

·       Brandon Spikes – One of the few successful “Florida guys” selected by Bill Belichick. Liability in coverage, but one of the most feared run-stopping linebackers in the NFL. Tone setter. Great selection.

 

·       Shane Vereen – As the leader of the Shane Vereen fan club, it pains me not to give this selection a “green rating.” Unfortunately, Vereen’s tantalizing skillset has been marginalized by his inability to stay healthy. Couple that with the unexpected number of dropped balls in 2013, and it seems appropriate to give him a “blue rating.”

 

·       Patrick Chung – A bit difficult to judge this one. Initially, it seemed like a no-brainer that the Chung pick would end up receiving a “red rating.” However, Chung did become a full-time starter in his second season (a bit misleading when you consider the other options at the position); he did have a punt block, a field goal block, and an interception for a touchdown against the Dolphins in week four of the 2010 season; he did start, and play well for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. However, most will remember the botched fake punt against the Jets in the 2010 Divisional game.

 

·       Ras-I Dowling – Brutal. One of the worst picks in the Belichick era.

 

·       Ron Brace – Did he even exist?

 

·       Darius Butler – I customized a #28 sweatshirt when the Patriots selected Darius Butler: in place of Butler’s last name, it read “Pick Six.” I also purchased a Laurence Maroney jersey back in 2007. I should stop.

 

·       Tavon Wilson – Players aren’t chosen in the second round to contribute on special teams. Not a good selection.

 

·       Jermaine Cunningham – Jermaine Cunningham played at Florida. Carlos Dunlap played at Florida. They played together from 2007-2009. Dunlap was the superior player in college. Dunlap has been the superior player in the NFL. Cunningham was selected 53rd in the 2010 draft. Dunlap was selected 54th in the 2010 draft. Inexcusable pick.  

 

·       Terrence Wheatley – Nope.

 

Players Chosen in the Third Round

 

·      Stevan Ridley – Break out season in 2012, rushing for over 1,200 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Ball security continues to be a concern. 

 

·      Brandon Tate – Failed to become a legitimate weapon at WR. Became the most dynamic kick returner for New England in his second season as evidenced by his two kick return touchdowns. The selection of Tate would likely receive a “green rating” had the Patriots not cut him during the 2011 season as he’s succeeded in Cincinnati.

 

·       Ryan Mallett – In hindsight, it’s difficult to justify the selection. The Patriots had holes on their roster going into the 2011 season. Quarterback wasn’t one of them. Barring an unforeseen trade prior to the start of the 2014, this pick receives a “red rating.”

 

·       Shawn Crable – Coming out of Michigan, Crable looked the part. Unfortunately, the potential never equated to production.

 

·       Taylor Price – Missed the first 15 games of his rookie season. Flashed in the 2011 preseason. Never put it together during the regular season. Waived during the 2011 season. What’s more, the Steelers selected Antonio Brown in the sixth round of the same draft.

 

·      Jake Bequette – High effort pass-rusher coming out of Arkansas. Has done nothing since being drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft.

 

·      Kevin O’Connell – Had the mobility to go along with prototypical height. Never materialized. Drafted in 2008; waived in 2009.

 

·       Tyrone McKenzie – Like Shawn Crable, McKenzie had ideal measurable. Unfortunately, like Shawn Crable, McKenzie’s potential was never realized. The former USF standout failed to make an impact in the NFL.

 

Players Chosen in the Fourth Round

 

·       Aaron Hernandez – Hm. How to evaluate this one?

 

·       Rich Ohrnberger – Filled in for Stephen Neal at right guard during the 2009 season when Neal went down with an injury. Played in two games during the 2010 season. Waived in 2011.  

 

·       Jonathan Wilhite – Another swing-and-miss at the cornerback position. However, unlike Ras-I Dowling, Terrence Wheatley, and Darius Butler, Wilhite did log significant playing time, playing 14 games in 2009, and 9 games in 2010. That’s not to say he played well, thus, a “blue rating” seems appropriate. 

 

Players Chosen in the Fifth Round

 

·       Matthew Slater – Team captain. Elite special teams player. Three Pro Bowl selections. Two All-Pro selections.

 

·       Zoltan Mesko – Set rookie punting records in 2011. Somewhat surprising cut during the 2013 pre-season. Replaced by Ryan Allen.

 

·       Marcus Cannon – Drafted 138th in the 2011 NFL Draft. Had Cannon not been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, he likely would’ve been selected in the top 100, if not higher. Excellent “value” pick. 6 career starts. Should see an expanded role moving forward.

 

·       Lee Smith – Former standout TE at Marshall. Selected in 2011. Waived prior to the start of the 2011 season. Claimed by the Bills.

 

·       George Bussey – After an injury riddled 2009 season, Bussey played in the 2010 preseason before being waived.

 

Players Chosen in the Sixth Round

 

·       Nate Ebner – Former rugby standout at Ohio State. Special teams asset. Key fumble recovery in overtime against Denver in week 15 of the 2013 season set up the winning field goal.

 

·       Jake Ingram – Only long snapper selected in the 2009 draft. Played in all 16 games in 2009. Waived in 2010.

 

·       Myron Pryor – Played significant minutes during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Stuck with the team through the 2011 season before being waived in 2012.

 

·       Markell Carter – Small school prospect (Central Arkansas). Known more for his seven ‘practice player of the week’ honors. Never materialized.

 

·       Ted Larsen – Hard to defend the Patriots for their decision to waive Larsen soon after drafting him. Since being cut, Larsen has been highly productive. Of note, Larsen was part of the Buccaneer OL that paved the way for Doug Martin’s stellar 2012 season.

 

·       Bo Ruud – Unlike his brother Barrett, Bo failed to make an impact in the NFL.

 

Players Chosen in the Seventh Round

 

·      Julian Edelman – Fun fact: both Julian Edelman and Josh Cribbs played quarterback at Kent State. Another fun fact (for Patriot fans): Edelman will go down as one of the best selections of the Belichick era.

 

·       Alfonzo Dennard – Another “value pick” for the Patriots. Excellent pick assuming Dennard stays out of trouble.

 

·       Brandon Deaderick – Logged significant minutes for the Patriots after being selected in the seventh round of the 2010 draft.

 

·       Malcolm Williams – Played two seasons with the Patriots. Contributed on special teams.

 

·       Thomas Welch – Two stints with the Patriots. Played in 3 games for the team in 2011.

 

·       Darryl Richard – Spent significant time on the practice squad. Waived in 2011.

 

·       Kade Weston – My favorite college football team is the University of Georgia; I don’t remember him doing too much while at Georgia. My favorite NFL team is the New England Patriots; I don’t remember him doing too much with the Patriots.

 

·       Zac Robinson – Had some buzz coming out of Oklahoma State. Never panned out.

 

·      Jeremy Ebert – Not Julian Edelman 2.0. Not Wes Welker 2.0. Not with the team any longer.

 

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

 

Players Chosen in the First Round (1-10)

 

·       No top 10 selections.

 

Players Chosen in the First Round (11-32)

 

·       Joe Flacco – From 2008-2011, “Joe Cool” was generally viewed as a good, not great, NFL quarterback—someone who couldn’t carry his team to a Super Bowl title. Then 2012 happened: in the final year of his rookie contract, Flacco had one of the greatest postseason runs in NFL history (11 touchdowns, no interceptions), culminating in a Super Bowl victory. Subsequently, Flacco signed a $120 million contract, further cementing his status as an elite NFL quarterback.

 

·       Jimmy Smith – I struggled with this one. Smith is a supremely talented athlete; ideal measurables for the position. Character concerns, however, caused him to slip to the bottom of the first round of the 2011 draft. In his first three seasons, Smith has steadily improved. Played a key role in the Ravens Super Bowl victory. Had his fifth year option picked up in April, evidence of how the team feels about him. To this point, however, he (arguably) hasn’t done enough to justify the selection.

 

·       Michael Oher – Reliable starter for the Ravens. Struggled greatly during the 2013 season. No longer with the team. Not a movie script ending (forgive me).

 

Players Chosen in the Second Round

 

·       Ray Rice – Legal issues aside, Rice has exceeded expectations. Outside of a forgettable 2013 season, Rice has been one of the best running backs in the NFL.

 

·       Torrey Smith – Joe Flacco’s number one target. Quintessential big play WR. Over 1,000 yards receiving in 2013. Very good selection.

 

·      Kelechi Osemele – Excellent rookie season. Dominated on the biggest stage, helping the Ravens defeat the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. Injury plagued 2013 season.

 

·       Paul KrugerAfter a slow start to his career, Kruger became an impactful player for the Ravens during their Super Bowl run. However, in a candid moment, Raven fans would likely admit that Kruger failed to meet expectations.  

 

·       Terrence Cody – After dominating at the University of Alabama, many believed the Ravens found great “value” when Cody slipped to the bottom of the second round in the 2010 draft. He’s been nothing more than a rotational player for the Ravens.

 

·       Sergio Kindle – Getting Kindle in the second round appeared to be a steal at the time. Not the case. After missing the 2010 season due to a head injury, Kindle never managed to live up to his potential. He was released in 2012.

 

Players Chosen in the Third Round

 

·      Lardarius Webb – Pro Bowl worthy season in 2011. 2012 season was derailed due to an ACL tear. Two years removed from injury, look for Webb to regain form.

 

·       Bernard Pierce – Very capable backup to Ray Rice. Played well in 2013. May see an expanded role moving forward.

 

·       Ed Dickson – Drafted a round before Dennis Pitta in the 2010 NFL Draft, Dickson has been solid, but not spectacular. Brutal blocker.

 

·       Tom Zbikowski – How dare he fail to jump ahead of Ed Reed on the depth chart. Jokes aside, Zbikowski was a significant contributor on special teams and a viable backup safety. Wasn’t a home run selection, but certainly not a miss either.

 

·       Jah Reid – Has done little to justify a third round selection. Only 7 career starts since being drafted in 2011.

 

·       Tavares Gooden – Injuries and poor play led to his release in 2011.  Has since been signed and released by the 49ers as well as the Texans.  

 

·       Oniel Cousins – 4 career starts with the Ravens from 2008-2010 does not warrant a third round selection.

 

Players Chosen in the Fourth Round

 

·       Dennis Pitta – The Ravens certainly missed Pitta during the 2013 season. Very reliable tight end. Excellent selection.

 

·       Gino Gradkowski – Drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Gradkowski has played in 32 games, starting in 16. Became the team’s starting center in 2012.

 

·       Tandon Doss – Special teams contributor, situational receiver.

 

·       Christian Thompson – Suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season. Released in 2013.

 

·       Marcus Smith – Missed significant time due to injuries. Zero career receptions with the Ravens. Former New Mexico receiver failed to justify a fourth round selection.

 

·       David Hale — *Retired due to injuries.*

 

Players Chosen in the Fifth Round

 

·       Arthur Jones – Great pick. Impactful defensive tackle. Helped lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in 2012. Signed a $30 million contract with the Colts in the off-season.

 

·       Pernel McPhee – Impactful rookie season. During the Raven’s Super Bowl run, McPhee made a number of key plays (tipped a Brady throw which was intercepted during the AFC Championship, strip-sacked Peyton Manning in the AFC Divisional Playoff).

 

·       Chykie Brown – Special teams contributor. Impacted the 2012 AFC Divisional Playoff when he tipped a pass that was returned for a touchdown. Borderline “blue rating.”

 

·       David Reed – Contributed positively (and negatively) on special teams. Traded to Indianapolis in 2013 for Delone Carter.

 

·       Asa Jackson – Since being drafted in 2012, Jackson has twice been suspended for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing drugs. One career tackle.

 

·      Jason Phillips – No impact. Injury concerns coming out of college. Plagued by injuries in the NFL.

 

·       Davon Drew – Failed to make the 53-man roster.

 

Players Chosen in the Sixth Round

 

·       Haruki Nakamura – Excellent special teams player. Started 13 games for the Carolina Panthers in 2012.

 

·       Ramon Harewood – Started five games for the Ravens in 2012.

 

·       Tyrod Taylor – Finding a backup quarterback in the sixth round is good business. Just ask the Patriots, who took Ryan Mallett in the third round.

 

·      Cedric Peerman – Failed to make the 53-man roster.

 

·       Tommy Streeter – Placed on injured reserve during his rookie season. Never played for the Ravens as he was waived before the start of the 2013 season.

 

Players Chosen in the Seventh Round

 

·       Anthony Allen – Solid special teams contributor.

 

·       DeAngelo Tyson – Tyson has appeared in 23 games since being drafted in 2012. As a seventh round selection, that’s a solid return on investment.

 

·       Allen Patrick – Failed to make it out of preseason during his rookie year. Failed to sign with any other team after getting cut.

 

·       Justin Harper – Zero career receptions. Stevie Johnson was selected later in the seventh round.

 

New England breakdown:

 

  • New England made 46 picks between 2008-2012;
  • Of those 46 picks, 19.5 received a “green rating”;
  • Of those 46 picks, 6 received a “blue rating”;
  • Of those 46 picks, 20.5 received a “red rating.

 

Baltimore breakdown:

  • Baltimore made 38 picks between 2008-2012;
  • Of those 38 picks, 17 received a “green rating”;
  • Of those 38 picks, 5 received a “blue rating”;
  • Of those 38 picks, 15 received a “red rating”
  • *1 pick was excluded due to injuries.*

 

So there you have it, every Patriot and Raven selection over the last five years. What inferences can be drawn from this exhaustive, Christmas colored list? That’s up for debate. I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to draw your own inferences. Which team do you think has done better over the past five years? 

Tags: Bill Belichick New England Patriots NFL Draft