New England Patriots: Revisiting and Grading the Draft: 2011

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Sep 21, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills tight end Lee Smith (85) against the San Diego Chargers at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

5th Round #159 overall: tight end Lee Smith

6th Round #194 overall: outside linebacker Markell Carter

7th Round #219 overall: cornerback Malcolm Williams

By the sixth and seventh round of the 2011 draft there were few top players left to choose from. The Patriots took three players who all failed to make the team. Tight end Lee Smith was behind Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski and New England tried to sneak Smith through waivers to the practice squad after a strong summer. Unfortunately, the Buffalo Bills grabbed Smith and he has been a solid back-up since.


Markell Carter failed to make an impact in training camp at a position of need (outside linebacker/defensive end) and never caught on with any team in the NFL. Many expected New England to address the position early in the draft but instead brought in free agents Andre Carter and Mark Anderson and got 10 sacks apiece from the edge rushers. Finally, seventh round pick Malcolm Williams actually made the team and played a pair of games in 2011 and again in 2012 on special teams.


Dec 7, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Charles Clay (42) runs against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Ravens won 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports


Pernell McPhee (#165 overall to Baltimore) has blossomed into a top edge rusher and secured a big contract in free agency. At tight end the Patriots could have taken Charles Clay (#174 overall to Miami) and at cornerback they could have grabbed Byron Maxwell (#173 overall to Seattle). The Eagles found a great value at #191 overall with Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce while Houston snapped up right tackle Derek Newton at #214 overall.


With players not drafted, the Patriots found linebacker Jeff Tarpinian as an undrafted free agent and he was a solid special teams player in New England. Former Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner was an undrafted player who had spent four years in Canada before signing with Seattle prior to the 2011 season. Current Patriots defensive tackle Sealver Siliga was an undrafted free agent who originally signed in San Francisco. Free safety M.D. Jennings was signed by Green Bay as an undrafted free agent. Finally, Boston College’s Mark Herzlich (who missed the 2009 season due to a rare form of bone cancer) was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Giants where he has grown into a starting role.



While the late rounds are often a crap shoot, the Patriots did send one sixth round pick to Denver to unload Laurence Maroney to get the pick that became the return of Deion Branch to New England. The other seventh round pick was sent to Atlanta for offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka. Lee Smith was a solid player, but just not in New England.

Next: Overall Grade