With or without Tom Brady, the New England Patriots will always command respect – not to mention a certain degree of influence in drafts for years to come. Thus, while every franchise has its talismanic figures, many Pats fans are now looking towards the future generation, especially in light of their heroes’ conspicuous absence from Super Bowl LIV.
With the Patriots’ first test of 2020 coming in the shape of the draft, there are some lessons that can be learned from previous drafts.
The best drafts
In terms of the best-ever drafts the Patriots have had, it is hard to look past 2000. While the likes of Adrian Klemm and J.R. Redmond will never go down in Patriots history, pick number 199 will. Tom Brady helped to change the whole reputation of the franchise. His story has, of course, been told many times but it is not the only great selection the Patriots have had.
The mid-nineties also saw a number of great draft picks for the Patriots, with 1993 bringing Troy Brown and Drew Bledsoe through the door. Two years later, Pats fans saw five players who would go on to play over 100 games don the famous navy blue, with Ty Law amongst them. 1996 was also a very special year, with the first-round pick of Terry Glenn surprisingly being outshone by Lawyer Milloy and Tedy Bruschi that year, helping to propel the team to Super Bowl glory.
The Super Bowl success was rolled on with more recent draft years, such as 2010. Picking up Devin McCourty and Rob Gronkowski was a franchise-changing business and set the standard for current NCAAF-sourced rookies, all of whom will hope to figure prominently amongst the expert’s MVP picks and American football odds surrounding individual players. There were also other great picks of note in 2010, such as Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, and Ted Larsen.
The worst drafts
Ironically, the 2000 draft could also be seen as the Patriots worst-ever in terms of their first six picks prior to Brady. Additionally, 2007 was a rough year for the Patriots, with a Super Bowl loss and only having one pick out of the first 126 made. That one pick was Brandon Meriweather, who was solid enough, but the rest of the picks fell short of proving any significant worth. Retrospectively, it seemed to characterize the worst aspects of their Super Bowl-winning drought from 2005 to 2015.
The year before, 2006 also proved a poor draft by the Patriots’ standards, with the only bright spot being Stephen Gostkowski. Thus, despite the brilliance of Brady and Belichick, there is clearly a strong correlation between a good draft class and organizational success.
The draft: Always a lottery
Like any other franchise, those wielding the power of player recruitment over in New England will appreciate the element of a lottery inherent to the draft. No number of scouts, nor any revolutionary breakthroughs in computerized sports science, can truly guarantee success.
Though established heroes are invariably the ones that make the difference, strong newcomers are a cornerstone part of franchise success. Only by analyzing the very best and the worst drafts of their past can the Patriots, or any other NFL franchise, optimize their chances of reclaiming the ultimate honour.