The top 5 players the Patriots mistakenly passed on drafting in the past five years

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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Tee Higgins in 2020

The Patriots' 2020 draft was an interesting one, despite some of the big misses with their later-round picks. To date, Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche, and Michael Onwenu are the most successful of the selections, but it's hard to ignore who they passed up on to attain some of these players.

New England initially had the 23rd overall pick, which they could have used to trade up to attain a star like Justin Jefferson before the Vikings could snatch him up just one pick before them. Instead, Belichick traded out of round one with the Chargers in exchange for Los Angeles' second and third-round picks.

But what if they had stayed at pick 23?

Although Dugger has the potential to be a pillar of the Patriots' defense for years to come, let's imagine the idea of the Patriots staying with the pick they had and going with an offensive weapon instead.

Had that happened, the wide receiver issue that has continued to drag them down could have been solved by taking Tee Higgins, who was still on the board until the Bengals took him with the first pick in round two.

Maybe he isn't the WR1 that everyone has been clamoring for over the years, but he would've certainly been an upgrade with who was on the roster then. And he would've elevated a stale 2020 offense that Cam Newton was forced to try and make something happen with.

Not to mention, we wouldn't be sitting here in 2023 hoping that DeAndre Hopkins will choose to sign with New England because Higgins would've already been on the roster. But here we are.

Higgins has thrived since signing with Cincinnati, even after they drafted Ja'Marr Chase the following year and immediately became the go-to receiver. In three seasons, Higgins has totaled 215 receptions for 3,028 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging 14.1 yards per catch.

Imagine how much the Patriots' offense could have benefitted from a receiver like that.