The one drafting error that sunk Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots

This one error trashed the Pats since they allowed Tom Brady leave

13th Annual NFL Honors
13th Annual NFL Honors / Lauren Leigh Bacho/GettyImages

The New England Patriots have hardly been known for their GM's drafting excellence with few exceptions in their long history. Those exceptions include Chuck Fairbanks decades ago and Bill Parcells some thirty or so years ago. Recently canned Bill Belichick was no exception, largely conducting unsuccessful drafting that has plagued the team seemingly forever.

Belichick took the art form of poor drafting to a whole new level. He often went way outside the box for bizarre picks, costing the team and himself aplenty. Translation: That means, in this view, the Patriots, with Tom Brady at the helm, should have and would have won double-digit Super Bowl titles (10-12 easily) if Belichick had known what he was doing in drafting players.

Belichick was the master of "reaches," taking players no one else thought were worthy of the high picks he bestowed on them. And mostly, the NFL cognoscenti were right on the button. Those players weren't worth those picks. Also, at times, there have been picks NOT made, omissions which were equally, if not even more egregious.

One is amongst the worst of all-time in Patriots history: the boneheaded non-drafting of one Hall of Fame defensive end, Jason Taylor, in favor of running back Sedrick Shaw. If you ask who? That's exactly the point. If amateur draftniks (two hands raised here) were clamoring for that pick in the third round in 1997, no less, why couldn't the Pats see it? The result was Taylor's terrorizing Brady for a decade.

In 2018, Belichick repeated the Jason Taylor Patriots' draft gaffe

Indeed, in 2018, the Patriots were heading to a transformational period. In his infinite lack of wisdom on the subject, Belichick determined that Brady was on the downside, likely before 2018, and had to be replaced. First, Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted in 2014 and was summarily kicked to the sideline by the GOAT, TB12.

Yet, the handwriting was still on the wall for the Pats and Brady due to Belichick's lack of judgment. Even after 2018, the Pats' last Super Bowl win, he was determined to kick Brady to the curb. The contract Brady signed with no franchise clause did the deed, and he was gone after the abysmal (for the Patriots) 2019 season.

Belichick obviously felt that Brady was on the downside, and he'd be replacing him. It says here, an opinion, that it was probably decided even before 2018 when the monumental draft flub-up to be evaluated here took place. Again, after 2018, Brady's time in New England was history.

In 2018, the Patriots had the luxury of having two first-round picks, a luxury few Super Bowl-caliber teams could boast. It was a good thing, at least in theory. With the prevailing feeling that Brady would be cast aside, the sensible move would have been to draft a quarterback to take his place since the aforementioned Garoppolo had been traded to San Francisco after the 2016 season.

Belichick failed to draft Lamar Jackson in the 2018 first round, and the rest is lousy history

It was in 2018 that Belichick made the worst personnel mistake of his career (second only to his nonsensically deciding to broom Brady at all). The pick for the future was there, right in front of him, staring him in the face, and he whiffed, not once, but twice on the equivalent of an 85-mile-and-hour fastball.

The Patriots had that luxury of the two first-round picks, one at 18 and the other at pick 31. Lamar Jackson, a promising dual-threat quarterback, was available in that draft. The Patriots needed a quarterback since they most likely decided to cut ties with the best ever. Once again, even neophyte non-professional draftnik types hoped that one of those picks would go to a quarterback and that quarterback might be Lamar Jackson.

The 18th pick arose, the Pats sent it to the podium, and they selected ... Isaiah Wynn, a small (very small) offensive tackle from Georgia. Now, Wynn was a good college player but was flawed by his size. At about 6'2" tall and 310 pounds, he was of marginal size for an NFL center or guard, never mind an offensive left tackle protecting Brady. Opportunity missed, No. One.

Next, the picks unfolded and lo-and-behold by some miracle or twist of fate, Jackson hadn't been picked yet when the Patriots' second first-rounder was on the board, pick No. 31. The Pats would take a flier on Jackson here; it was a veritable no-brainer, right? Wrong. Instead, Belichick et al showed little brainpower and again passed on Jackson and selected Georgia running back, Sony Michel.

Well, both Wynn and Michel disappointed. Wynn never measured up, and Michel was just another guy.
The rest, as they say (who are those "they?" anyway), is history. Jackson has been terrific. No, he hasn't won a Super Bowl yet, but he has won two NFL MVP awards in his six seasons in the NFL. And get this, he's still just 27 years old! If Jayden Daniels is the next Lamar, please, just take him!

The moral of the story is this: sometimes opportunity is looking you in the face, and if you just take a chance, go with the flow, and maybe listen to people who might have a clue, you can do well, very well. Bill Belichick didn't, and because of that draft (and, of course, a host of other reasons), he's found himself on the outside looking in. For us, the moaning masses. Just think what Jackson might have done with two years as an understudy to Tom Brady. No, don't; it's too painful to think about it.

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