Ranking Patriots' last 10 first-round draft picks

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Despite the more recent narrative that Bill Belichick wasn't a great decider of talent in the draft, he had a knack for finding some under-the-radar great players who would become integral parts of the Patriots ' twenty-year dynasty.

His uncommon way of going about that draft made other teams around the league re-evaluate their plans, and the legendary head coach was often credited for setting new trends in how others would put together their classes. More often than not, Belichick's style worked in his favor, which allowed the team to sustain long-term success.

But there were also a handful of duds in the mix that, in some ways, the Patriots are still dealing with the repercussions of years later.

Unfortunately, the latter half of his tenure seemed to fit that category more and more, especially when it comes to who he chose to draft in the first round. Over the last ten years, in particular, there have been more strikeouts than home runs, yet at the same time, many are significant reasons for deep playoff runs or even championship wins.

Let's look back on the last ten first-round selections by the Patriots, ranking them from worst to best.

Ranking Patriots' last 10 first-round draft picks

#10. WR N'Keal Harry (32nd overall in 2019)

The most obvious choice of the worst pick of the last ten has to be the biggest bust during the Belichick era, wide receiver N'Keal Harry.

Even after five years, the confusion over Belichick's decision to draft N'Keal Harry remains. This, coupled with the disappointment of Harry's short-lived career in New England, makes the situation even more frustrating. What's worse is that far superior talents were available when Belichick chose to reach for the former ASU standout.

Imagine the impact A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, or Deebo Samuel could have had on the Patriots' offense. These game-changing receivers, all of whom were available when the Patriots selected Harry, could have even extended Tom Brady's tenure in New England.

All three players remain at the top of their game, continuing to be some of the best receivers year after year. The Patriots traded Harry in 2022 after three uneventful years in Foxboro. They are still looking for the clear WR1 the offense needs, but had they chosen one of these guys, they wouldn't be in that predicament five years later.

#9. DT Dominique Easley (29th overall in 2014)

As the Patriots planned to continue their second stint of winning Super Bowls, Dominique Easley's selection made a lot of sense. The defense was thriving but needed some help on the defensive line, immediately creating a big opportunity for the rookie.

Easley proved to be a solid addition to the rotation in his first season, only to build upon that the following year. In 2015, he recorded two sacks, 15 combined tackles, and ten quarterback hits, nothing too flashy, but he was still a contributor on the field.

But the crack in his tenure had already begun to show.

Through his first two years in Foxboro, Easley missed ten regular season games due to injuries and what was later reported as "off-the-field issues." Rumors swirled regarding his locker room reputation, with teammates anonymously sharing that he was considered a "cancer" behind closed doors.

He is alleged to have butted heads with the coaching staff over how to proceed with his rehab, which became a big part of why Bill Belichick ultimately decided to take on the cap hit and release him before completing his second season.

It's a case of what could have been and what feels even more like a wasted first-round pick even ten years later.