During the New England Patriots’ dominant 20-year run, it felt as though the NFL draft was simply a bonus for them. The draft never seemed to hold the importance for the Pats the way it did for other teams across the league. After going 17-16 in the two seasons without Tom Brady and a free-agency spending spree that netted mixed results in 2021, however, Patriots fans might be feeling a little different about this week’s 2022 NFL Draft.
Although New England had a bit of a surprise season last year and nearly won the AFC East, the betting markets aren’t necessarily believers. Looking at some of the top online sportsbooks, such as DraftKings and BetMGM, the Patriots are sitting in the middle of the pack in terms of Super Bowl 57 odds. Their win total? Just 8.5.
While we’ll have to wait and see how the 2022 draft class pans out for the Patriots and what it does for their futures markets, it’s a perfect time to look back on their best and worst first-round draft picks since 2000.
Worst First-Round Picks In Patriots NFL Draft History
N’Keal Harry, 2019
Going into the 2019 NFL Draft, WR N’Keal Harry looked like one of the strongest prospects that year. He had a great production profile and followed that up with a strong NFL Combine performance. Rob Gronkowski had just retired, and Julian Edelman was entering his age 33 season. Harry had the pedigree and the Patriots had a need. It seemed like a great fit. Fast forward three years later, and Harry has 57 catches for 598 yards, four touchdowns, and one trade request. Just 24 years old, there’s technically still time for him to turn it around, but it’s not looking promising.
Sony Michel (2018) and Laurence Maroney (2006)
Let’s lump two round one running backs together here. Both backs were looked at to be THE guy in the backfield, and neither fulfilled those hopes. Michel battled injuries and was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Rams prior to the 2021 season. Maroney dealt with a similar situation and was traded to Denver after his fourth year. Both Michel and Maroney put up solid numbers, but it was not nearly enough to justify the round one draft capital.
Dominique Easley, 2014
The shortest-tenured Patriot on this list, Easley’s time in Foxborough lasted two years before he was released. After entering the NFL with two ACL tears during his collegiate years, Easley’s knee issues continued. All in all, Easley started three games and tallied 25 total tackles for New England.
Best First-Round Picks In Patriots NFL Draft History
Richard Seymour (2001) and Vince Wilfork (2004)
When the coach Bill Belichick era started for New England, three of his first four first-round selections were along the defensive line. Typically, that would signal at least one of those picks didn’t pan out. That was not the case here. Seymour and Wilfork formed an elite defensive line for several seasons together. Both were selected to five Pro Bowls, had an All-Pro season, and multiple Super Bowl victories.
Logan Mankins, 2005
An absolute stud from the get-go, Logan Mankins was a stalwart at left guard that franchises dream of. Two things stand out for me with Mankins. First, the dude was a walk-on for Fresno State and started at left tackle as a redshirt freshman. Second, although he played for the Pats for eight seasons in the midst of their dominant 20-year stretch, he never won a Super Bowl with the team.
Devin McCourty, 2010
Before you start sending hate mail, I’m giving McCourty the nod here over some other players due to his versatility. He can literally play any defensive back position needed and has played snaps at every one of them during his time with New England. Need him to play free safety? Cool. Want him to come up into the box as a strong safety? Got it. Need help on the outside? Sure thing. McCourty’s 12 seasons with the Patriots have allowed him to rack up 686 solo tackles — second to only Vincent Brown’s 737.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer