New England Patriots: Revisiting and Grading the Draft: 2010

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Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates with team owner Robert Kraft following the game against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This is a multi-part review and grading of the previous drafts of the New England Patriots under head coach and lead front-office executive Bill Belichick continuing from the summer of 2013. The project started with a debate regarding the Patriots previous drafts under Belichick and how they stacked up against the rest of the NFL. This started with the grading of the 2013 draft  and then expanded to previous installments of the series looking at the previous drafts under Belichick. The previous seasons are found here: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004,2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.


As the Patriots are winding down free agency and the draft not until the end of April and beginning of May, this period of time after the Super Bowl and before the meat of the off-season is often the only slow time in the NFL calendar. I started this series in 2013 before it was interrupted due to the shocking revelations in the Aaron Hernandez saga taking place. After that, it was Tim Tebow time and training camp had so many storylines that past drafts slipped to the wayside. In 2014, the series continued but again fell off as the off-season of Darrelle Revis turned attention to other matters.

Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) celebrates after the game against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

As fans and the team prepare for the 2015 NFL Draft in it is a great opportunity to take the time to look back to the previous drafts of the New England Patriots in the Bill Belichick era and re-grade them with a clearer understanding of the drafted players impact upon the team.

As a note, these draft grades take into account the player’s impact while in New England weighed against the other players who were available in the draft at that time, as well as the strength of the draft as a whole that season.  In addition, the position of the player taken in the draft is compared to the team’s need at that time, and it also takes into consideration how the player contributes to the team’s winning, whatever their role ended up being in New England. Below is the revisit and re-grading of the Bill Belichick draft that followed one of the most frustrating and disappointing finishes in the Belichick era: the 2010 NFL Draft.

The 2009 NFL season started with a New England Patriots team in transition: Quarterback Tom Brady was back behind center but 2008 starting quarterback Matt Cassel had been traded away along with popular linebacker Mike Vrabel. In addition, linebacker Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison retired before the season started. Most shocking was the trade of All Pro defensive lineman Richard Seymour to Oakland just a few days before the season started. The championship defense had been gutted, and the Patriots seemed to be a team in transition.


Young linebackers Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton teamed with veterans Tully Banta-Cain, Adalius Thomas, Pierre Woods and Derrick Burgess while Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren teamed with Mike Wright and Jarvis Green to shore up the defensive line. The secondary was a mess with inexperienced safeties Brandon Meriweather and Brandon McGowan backing up veteran cornerbacks Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs. Second year cornerbacks Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite and teamed with rookie cornerback Darius Butler and safety Patrick Chung to give the defense an entirely new look.


On offense the return of Brady led to an offense that finished third in total yards, first in first downs, third in passing yards, and sixth in points. Randy Moss and Wes Welker remained a dynamic duo at receiver–until Welker blew out his knee in a meaningless week seventeen loss to the Houston Texans. With Joey Galloway a washout the team leaned on ineffective tight end and Ben Watson and Sam Aiken as the third wide receiver.


The Patriots finished 10-6 with losses to rookie head coach Rex Ryan’s New York Jets, the Josh McDaniels coached Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning’s epic come-from-behind win coming back from 34-21 with less than five minutes to play, a Monday Night Football blowout to Drew Brees and the Saints, a one-point loss to Miami, and the final, meaningless game against Houston.


In the playoffs, the Patriots faced the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Round as Indianapolis and San Diego secured the top seeds and the bye weeks. The Patriots gave up an 83-yard run to Ray Rice on the first play from scrimmage and then committed three turnovers in the first quarter. The Ravens led 24-0 after one quarter and Brady finished with just 154 yards passing and three interceptions. After the stunning 33-14 loss and elimination from playoff contention, the Patriots needed to revitalize their offense and upgrade on defense.


So that brings us to the 2010 NFL Draft and Bill Belichick continuing his usual draft day wheeling and dealing:

Year Rnd Pick Pos PB St CarAV G College/Univ
2010 1 27 Devin McCourty DB 1 3 33 77 Rutgers
2010 2 42 Rob Gronkowski TE 3 4 43 65 Arizona
2010 2 53 Jermaine Cunningham LB 0 1 8 38 Florida
2010 2 62 Brandon Spikes LB 0 3 22 67 Florida
2010 3 90 Taylor Price WR 0 0 1 6 Ohio
2010 4 113 Aaron Hernandez TE 0 2 22 38 Florida
2010 5 150 Zoltan Mesko P 0 0 6 56 Michigan
2010 6 205 Ted Larsen C 0 3 22 76 North Carolina St.
2010 7 208 Thomas Welch T 0 0 2 27 Vanderbilt
2010 7 247 Brandon Deaderick DE 0 0 8 60 Alabama
2010 7 248 Kade Weston DT 0 0 Georgia
2010 7 250 Zac Robinson QB 0 0 0 0 Oklahoma St.

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 3/20/2015.

Next: Round One