3 first-round draft mistakes that continue to haunt the Patriots

New York Jets v New England Patriots
New York Jets v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

As the Patriots near the first NFL draft under Jerod Mayo, the importance of a successful class is becoming increasingly critical. They hold the third overall pick and have various decisions to make regarding what is best to do with the coveted spot, from taking their next franchise quarterback or the best wide receiver of the bunch, or trade it away to acquire more picks to benefit the team overall.

Because there is so much to figure out, it puts more pressure on Mayo and his new staff to get it right and set the team up for success for next season and beyond. And if they make any sort of mistake, it could come back to haunt them for years to come.

Unfortunately, that's what they continue to deal with from some of the flubs Bill Belichick made in recent years, which is not exactly a desirable fate for any new head coach to deal with. The hope is Mayo and de facto general manager Eliot Wolf won't add more mistakes to the list, making their jobs a lot more difficult down the road.

But what draft mistakes are they still dealing with to this day?

Here are just the top three.

3 first-round mistakes that continue to haunt the Patriots

Picking N'Keal Harry over A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Deebo Samuel

This is the one that Patriots fans love to mention even five years after the fact. It's one of the most unforgivable decisions Belichick made in his 24-year tenure, and it will continue to be a harsh reminder every time Brown, Metcalf, or Samuel have more incredible seasons.

The Harry pick was questionable from the start, as he wasn't primarily considered a first-round talent. Perhaps that label of being a high draft pick doomed him right away, but he was never able to even produce like he was picked in the first half of the draft, hence why he was eventually traded.

To make matters worse, the more details that have been revealed over the years about why Belichick went with Harry over Brown and Samuel specifically, who were convinced they would be future Patriots, has made the decision almost incomprehensible.

Considering how quickly Harry was labeled a bust and the careers that Brown, Metcalf, and Samuel have all gone on to have, it may be fair to conclude this as the biggest draft botch by Belichick in his Patriots career. They were a team needing a more competent offense and game-changing receivers to help Tom Brady achieve more greatness. But that's not what happened, and it has been a consistent issue ever since the quarterback left the team in 2020.

Passing on Lamar Jackson twice for Sony Michel and Isaiah Wynn

Besides the obvious failure by the Patriots to properly prepare for life post-Brady, one of their biggest mistakes was choosing Sony Michel and Isaiah Wynn in the 2018 draft with Lamar Jackson still on the board.

They had several meetings with the quarterback in the pre-draft process and were reportedly impressed with him from the start. The thought was they would take Jackson and have him sit behind Brady until he was ready to hang things up, but instead, Belichick chose to risk losing out on a talented player by taking two others who weren't on the team beyond their rookie contracts.

What makes the decision even more confusing is the reports about Belichick's desire to move on from Brady far earlier than they did. If that were the truth, which is said to have gone back to 2017 with Jimmy Garoppolo, it makes little sense he would pass on a potential Brady replacement when he was right at their fingertips.

Because Brady left just two years later, and now the team needs a new quarterback again, it would've been nice to have had Jackson in New England, especially since he has won two league MVPs and broken multiple records since joining the Ravens.

Trading down in 2022 draft for Cole Strange

It shocked no one when Belichick decided to trade down in the first round of the 2022 draft, as he was known for seeming like he didn't enjoy using first-round selections over the years. He traded with the Chiefs to receive the 29th overall pick and decided to take a guard, which prompted a wild reaction from fans and even laughs from GMs and head coaches around the league.

It wasn't a complete out of left field pick, given the Patriots needs on the offensive line. But considering who was on the board when they were first on the clock to who they passed on to take Cole Strange, it was a questionable decision, to put it lightly.

Then came the decision to have Strange play as a rookie, which didn't start too well. He ended up improving as the year went on and then kind of fell off a cliff by the end of the season. In the year since then, he's become an alright pick but nothing exciting compared to those they could have chosen instead, like Daxton Hill, Devin Lloyd, Trent McDuffie, or maybe even Breece Hall or Kenneth Walker III.

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