A lot of people have been writing articles like: "Is the Patriot Dynasty over?". Pundits have proclaimed that the Patriots have two years, max, as kings of the division. What they miss is that this isn't the same Patriots team. With the exception of Brady and Belichick, the team is almost completely different. What's also interesting is how the entire team has been rebuilt within the past three years. (I've included UDFAs as part of the draft classes)
Starters: McCourty at CB/S (captain), Rob Gronkowski (future HOF TE), Aaron Hernandez (elite TE), Brandon Spikes (solid LB), Zoltan Mesko (solid punter), Kyle Love (DT), Nate Solder (Pro Bowl T), Stevan Ridley (top-10 RB), Chandler Jones (DROY candidate DE), Dont'a Hightower (starting LB), Alfonzo Dennard (solid CB),
The bottom line is that over the past three years, we've obtained 11 home-grown starters, 6 contributors, and 4 players with potential. That's a very good statistic for a Super Bowl contender.
2011: Jimmy Smith (backup CB), Torrey Smith (solid WR), Jah Reid (backup G), Tandon Doss (3rd string WR, no playing time), Chykie Brown (backup CB), Phernell McPhee (starting DE), Anthony Allen (3rd string RB), Josh Bynes (backup ILB)
Bottom line: They have obtained 7 starters, 6 contributors, and 7 players with potential. As we can see, those numbers aren't as good as the Patriots but they still are solid. During that period, they also used draft picks for short-term deals like: Anquan Boldin. Overall, they have a lot of free agents: Ed Reed, a gap at MLB, Dennis Pitta, Cary Williams, Joe Flacco, Kemeatu, McKinnie, Kruger, Ellerbe, Boldin. That's 10 starting positions. This team is clearly at a crossroads - they can either blow it up or try to keep everyone together for a while in order to make a few more runs before completely imploding.
Let's take a look at a team praised for drafting, the Texans:
2011: JJ Watt (all-pro DE), Brooks Reed (starting LB), Brandon Harris (3rd string CB), Rashad Carmichael (3rd string CB), Shiloh Keo (backup CB), TJ Yates (backup QB), Derek Newton (backup RT), Lestar Jean (3rd string WR)
So they got 5 starters, 9 contributors, and 5 players with potential. Overall, not horrible, but I wouldn't say they're at the Patriots level. In fact, JJ Watt sort of saves the rest of the drafting. Overall, their roster is not incredibly deep. They're still young and talented and so we'll continue to see them, but I expect Luck's Colts to reassert Indy dominance in a couple years, if not before.
Finally, the Broncos:
(NOTE: This was the much maligned Josh McDaniels draft - with Tebow who I'm not including because he's not with the team)
2012: Derek Wolfe (starting DT), Brock Osweiler (backup QB), Ronnie Hillman (3rd string RB), Omar Bolden (3rd string CB), Philip Blake (backup C), Malik Jackson (3rd string DE), D. Trevathan (3rd string LB), Steven Johnson (3rd string LB)
So they have obtained 9 starters, 4 contributors, and 5 players with potential. We see that while they've had great success drafting, its actually only on-par or a little lower than the Patriots. Overall, we see that the Patriots are the only team to have replaced more than half of their starters in the last three years through homegrown young talent.
What does it mean?
In other words, our team has a lot of young talent, more than any of our current rivals. If we continue to draft well, we will be well set up for another dynasty, a new run. When we finally do win that Super Bowl, we'll be able to point to 2010 as year 1 of the new era.
What do you guys think? If you'd like me to analyze other teams in this way, let me know.