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Where do Patriots' drafts rank?

Posted by Albert Breer  April 13, 2010 12:28 PM

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It's sometimes hard to rank one team's drafts against another, because there are so many factors involved.

Maybe one team gets more starters out of a draft simply because it has more holes than the next. Maybe there are more players that fit another club's system than the next, making it easier in that given year for that group to succeed.

Sure is a tough task to cut through all of that, but that's just what Football Outsiders did in this month's edition of ESPN The Magazine. Not a lot of surprises in the top third of the rankings (Colts, Ravens, Giants, Dolphins, Jets, Falcons, Packers, Saints, Cardinals, Eagles, Chargers), but here's something that might surprise you guys: For this period (2000-07), the Patriots came in 20th. Here's the blurb on their performance:

Nobody beats Bill Belichick when it comes to trading a pick this year for a better one the next, and nobody stockpiles more mid-round picks. But recent drafts haven't been nearly as effective as those in prior years. Of 2007's nine selections, only Brandon Meriweather remains on the team.
The real low point was 2006-08 for the Patriots, which is partially accounted for in this sample. New England made 26 selections in those three years. Eight (Jerod Mayo, Terrence Wheatley, Shawn Crable, Jonathan Wilhite, Matthew Slater from '08; Brandon Meriweather from '07; Laurence Maroney, Stephen Gostkowski from '06) remain on the roster. Three of those players started in the playoff game against the Ravens (Mayo, Meriweather, Maroney). Throw Gostkowski (not an official starter, but obviously a starting-level contributor) in there as a fourth.

It's hard to see that as a success. Now, if you include the Randy Moss and Wes Welker trades as part of the 2007 draft, then, yeah, it looks a lot different. And the Patriots get credit for those acquisitions as part of the overall roster-stocking process.

But when you're talking about drafting, normally you evaluate a team's ability to identify college talent, draft those players and develop them to their potential. In that sense, it's difficult to exonerate the Patriots' shortcomings of late in the draft -- which ties into college scouting and player development -- for going and getting Welker and Moss. It's clear here that Football Outsiders sure hasn't.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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