Sep 27, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive tackle Malcom Brown (90) warms up before the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium. Texas won the game 23-0. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Grading an NFL Draft in the immediate aftermath of said draft is an exercise in futility; however, the modern NFL with its fan-base’s hunger for instant analysis demands knee-jerk reactions and grades before the draftees get their hands on a playbook. Instead of grades, it makes sense to look at each pick as far as their anticipated role in contributing to the New England Patriots’ attempt to win another Super Bowl in 2015 and in assisting with the team’s success in the future as the Patriots attempt to continue their run of success that has stretched from 2001 until the present.
Feb 2, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (left) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pose with the Pete Rozelle trophy during the Super Bowl XLIX-Winning Head Coach and MVP Press Conference at Media Center-Press Conference Room B. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
As head coach Bill Belichick continues to build the Patriots’ roster not just for a return trip to the Super Bowl in 2015 but also for the future, the draft picks in 2015 confounded many NFL analysts as they anticipated a draft built around replacing cornerback Darrelle Revis, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, and adding offensive weapons for quarterback Tom Brady. Instead New England balanced the present and the future as they shored up both sides of the football and addressed their needs in their typical manner. As frustrating as the 2015 NFL Draft may have been to New England Patriots fans, there was–as always–a method to the madness of the Patriots front office.
The NFL Draft is a fascinating process as teams balance building for the future and looking for instant impact. Some franchises get stuck focusing solely on immediate needs, others get infatuated with a player and overspend, others build for the future and never take care of the present. Bill Belichick has seemingly had a plan in place during the NFL Draft–even if it is not obvious to analysts with their instant analysis. Stepping back to let the dust settle it becomes clearer what New England’s plans were when taken in the historical perspective of past drafts. In that regard things that took place in the first week of May begin to make more sense.
This piece will examine each of the 2015 NFL Draft picks made by the Patriots looking not just at the player and spot drafted, but their anticipated role in 2015, their role in 2016 and beyond, and seeing how they compare with previous draft picks. The past comparison is not simply a similar player in a similar spot, but rather the methodology and projection of the front-office in selected the player.