New England Patriots: 2018 NFL Draft Targets

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
2 of 10
New England Patriots
New England Patriots /


The last time the Patriots made two first round draft picks was in 2012. That year they traded up twice in the first round moving from number 27 to number 21 (leapfrogging the New York Jets) and sending Cincinnati a third round pick to snag edge rusher Chandler Jones. They then moved from number 31 overall to number 25 sending a fourth round draft pick to the Denver Broncos to grab linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

Jones was a starter from day one and had four highly productive seasons in New England compiling 36 sacks. With the cost of edge rushers skyrocketing, Belichick traded Jones to Arizona where he has compiled 28 sacks in two seasons and was re-signed by the Cardinals making him one of the highest paid edge rushers in the NFL.

Hightower also has been an impact player in New England since his rookie season. Hightower got a rare second contract in free agency with the Patriots last offseason and is used in a variety of ways on defense. Hightower has struggled with injuries and has not played all 16 games since 2013. Last year he played just five games and his absence was a key loss.


The other time with two first round draft picks in the Bill Belichick era was in 2004. Coming off their second Super Bowl championship in three years, the team drafted nose tackle Vince Wilfork at number 21 overall and tight end Ben Watson with the last pick of the first round. Wilfork was a starter for ten seasons in New England and Watson was in New England for six seasons (and is entering his 14th season in 2018 having signed for a second tour in New Orleans).