Best: Stephen Gostkowski, K (2006).
Honorable Mention: Asante Samuel, CB (2003), Dan Klecko, DT (2003); James White, RB (2014).
It is a little embarrassing to admit that the best 4th-round selection by the Patriots was a kicker, especially since I have criticized the Pats’ 2023 selection, once again in the 4th round, of a kicker.
Nevertheless, Gostkowski deserves the honor as he played 14 seasons for the Pats and was excellent throughout, earning 4 Pro Bowl awards, accumulating 392 field goals while making 86% of his attempts, and winning 3 Super Bowls.
Worst: Aaron Hernandez, TE (2010).
Not-so-honorable Mention: Kareem Brown, DT (2007); Josh Boyce, WR (2013); Tre’ Jackson, G (2015).
Hernandez enjoyed three productive seasons with the Patriots before being arrested on June 26, 2013, and subsequently convicted for the murder of his friend, Odin Lloyd.
Before the draft, Aaron Hernandez was known to have off-the-field issues, including masking drug use and possible gang ties, but the Patriots gambled that these issues would not resurface.
According to former Patriots senior adviser Floyd Reese, Bill Belichick was convinced by Florida coach Urban Meyers that “these things weren’t going to be an issue.” Reese noted:
"We all knew about it. It was just from our standpoint, we were getting a first-round talent in the fourth round under a contract that was going to keep him in line or it wasn't going to cost us a penny."- Floyd Reese
The Hernandez pick was a bad one for the Patriots—a pick that clearly contradicted previously expressed sentiments from the Pats' ownership that the Patriots players represent the franchise and the community.