New England Patriots: Revisiting and Grading the Draft: 2010

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2nd Round  #53 overall: outside linebacker 

Jul 24, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets linebacker Jermaine Cunningham (55) walks out to the field prior to the start of training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots came into the draft with three second round draft picks. They turned #44 overall into Gronkowski after trading up to #42. They had the #47 overall pick which was traded to Arizona for their second round (#58 overall) draft pick and third round (#89 overall) pick. Then, at #58 overall they traded back to #62 overall with the Texans and received Houston’s fifth round (#150 overall) pick. The #89 overall pick was flipped to Carolina for a 2011 second round pick. But this pick in their original spot was not moved.


The Patriots found themselves in a run of linebackers: Jason Worilds went to Pittsburgh at #52 overall, New England picked Florida outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, then Carlos Dunlap went to Cincinnati at #54 overall, and finally Sean Lee went to Dallas at #55 overall.  Worilds, Dunlap, and Lee all became solid NFL linebackers.


Cunningham was in the news recently as he was arrested with gun possession, invasion of privacy, and was accused of spreading sexual images without consent (revenge porn). Of course, the story did not register much in New England as the Patriots were preparing for the playoffs while Cunningham had not been in New England since 2012. Cunningham started as a rookie in 2010 but was a healthy scratch much of 2011. He came back with a strong start to 2012 as a sub pass rusher, but he found himself in the doghouse following a suspension for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy.


Cunningham was cut during training camp in 2013 and spent a month in San Francisco with the 49ers before he was released again and latched on with the New York Jets playing seven snaps in 2013. Cunningham was in New York all 2014 but never got on the field in the regular season. With this arrest and his status barely hanging on in the NFL as it was, this is likely the end of the line for Cunningham.



Jan 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) against the Indianapolis Colts during the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Cunningham had a promising rookie season and a performance-enhanced revival in 2012 before getting caught. Picked after Cunningham in the second round that year were Dunlap and Lee–either of who would have been a good fit in New England. Underperforming defensive linemen Mike Neal and Terrence Cody went at #56 and #57. Running backs Ben Tate (#58 to Houston) and Montario Hardesty (#59 Cleveland) left their respective squads hoping for much more than they received. As far as disaster picks go, the Jets grabbing UMass offensive lineman Vlad Ducasse at #61 overall is one of the worst picks of the draft. Of course, at #60 overall was one of the best values of the second round (after Gronkowski and T.J. Ward) in Seattle’s pick of wide receiver Golden Tate. Tate was the lead receiver in Seattle and won a Super Bowl ring and later cashed in during free agency from Detroit. The Patriots drafted a Tate (Brandon in the third round in 2009) but it was the wrong one in the wrong year.



Cunningham was miss, no doubt about it. This was a deep draft and the Patriots swung and missed on Cunningham. College teammate Dunlap was the Florida outside linebacker/defensive end who should have been taken.


Next: Round Two Cont.