3 defensive players the New England Patriots passed on in the last five NFL drafts

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots
Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots / Kathryn Riley/GettyImages

The New England Patriots have drafted excellent defensive players over the last five years. Some examples include Josh Uche, Kyle Dugger, and Christian Barmore.

However, the Patriots have passed on great defensive players in this period too.

Here are three defensive players the Patriots passed on in the last five NFL drafts.

Shaquille Leonard - 2018 draft

The New England Patriots had two first-round picks in the 2018 NFL draft and failed to current Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard.

Although the Patriots selected Sony Michel and Isaiah Wynn, who contributed to a Super Bowl run, passing on Leonard was a massive mistake.

Leonard has been a stud for the Colts as he was the Defensive Rookie Of the Year in 2018 and has been a three-time All-Pro. He also led the NFL in forced fumbles in 2021 and tackles in 2018.

The decision to pass on Leonard cost the Patriots because linebacker has been a weak position for them in recent seasons. Leonard could have been the perfect successor to Dont’a Hightower in the middle of Bill Belichick's defense. 

Maxx Crosby - 2019 draft

The 2019 draft was one of the worst Patriots drafts of the 21st century. The team whiffed on wide receiver N’Keal Harry, and the only relevant player they drafted was Damien Harris. The Patriots also passed on current Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby, who fell to the fourth round.

Crosby has established himself as an elite pass rusher in the NFL and has been a two-time pro bowler. He also made second-team All-Pro in 2021. The Patriots missed an opportunity to bolster their pass rush with Crosby.

Imagine this current Patriots defense with Crosby.

They would be insane, and having Crosby on one side and Matthew Judon on the other would be a nightmare for opposing offenses.

Trevon Diggs - 2020 draft

The Patriots' 2020 draft was solid for defensive players as they drafted Kyle Dugger. However, they could have drafted current Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, who fell to the second round.

Diggs has been a stud from day one, as he led the NFL in interceptions and was a first-team All-Pro in his rookie season.

The Patriots struggle at cornerback in recent seasons could have been solved by drafting Diggs. 

The Patriots also would not have had to draft Christian Gonzalez in 2023, which could have allowed them to draft a wide receiver.