Draft Review Series Pt 2: Comparing the Patriots' Drafting to the NFC Elite

In my previous post, which can be found earlier in the fanposts, I examined the Patriots 2010-12 drafting compared to their AFC rivals: The Ravens, Broncos, and Texans. In this post, we're going to examine three more teams that have dominated the NFC: The Packers, 49ers, and Saints.

Let's take a look at the Patriots' picks...
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),
Contributors: Dane Fletcher, Shane Vereen, Ryan Mallett, Marcus Cannon, Brandon Bolden, Justin Francis
Players with Potential: Ras-I Dowling, Jake Bequette, Nate Ebner, Jeff Demps,

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.

Let's examine the 49ers first, a team praised to the skies for their drafting:

2010: Anthony Davis (starting T), Mike Iupati (starting G), Navorro Bowman (starting LB), Anthony Dixon (backup FB), Kyle Williams (backup WR, KR/PR), Tramaine Brock (3rd string CB)

2011: Aldon Smith (starting DE), Colin Kaepernick (starting QB), Chris Culliver (contributing CB), Kendall Hunter (backup RB), Daniel Kilgore (backup G), Bruce Miller (FB),

2012: AJ Jenkins (backup WR), LaMichael James (backup RB, KR/PR), Joe Looney (backup G), Darius Fleming (IRed LB), Trenton Robinson (backup S), Cam Johnson (backup LB), Jewel Hampton (4th string RB), Garrett Celek (3rd string TE), Tony Jerod-Eddie (PS promotion DE),

So the 49ers obtained 5 starters, 5 contributors, and 11 players with potential. What we see is that the 49ers definitely hit big on their 5 starters, but overall, their record is not overly impressive. When compared to other teams drafting in this area, it looks a bit shabby. But let's not forget that they have 13 picks in this coming draft, and they have done a magnificent job of negotiating contracts - their entire SB appearing team is returning.

Let's take a look at another NFC team noted for their homegrown talent, the Packers:

2010: Bryan Bulaga (starting T), Mike Neal (backup DE), Morgan Burnett (starting S), Andrew Quarless (backup TE), Marshall Newhouse (starting G), James Starks (backup RB), CJ Wilson (starting DE), Graham Harrell (backup QB), Frank Zombo (backup LB), Sam Shields (starting CB, injuries limited),

2011: Derek Sherrod (backup T, injury-riddled), Randall Cobb (3rd WR, but could start on other squads), Alex Green (backup RB), Davon House (backup CB, contributed), DJ Williams (3rd string TE), DJ Smith (backup LB, contributed), Ryan Taylor (4th TE),

2012: Nick Perry (backup LB, IRed), Jerel Worthy (backup DE), Casey Heyward (backup CB, potential star), Mike Daniels (backup DE), Jeron McMillian (backup S), Terell Manning (3rd string LB), Dezman Moses (backup LB), Sean Richardson (backup S), Jarrett Boykin (6th WR), Don Barclay (starting T), Greg Van Roten (backup OL),

So they obtained 6 starters, 5 contributors, and 15 players with potential. Overall, they have been able to replace the bottom half of their roster with homegrown talent, but there are few players who have really stood out in the past four years.

Finally let's check out the Saints, a team some call the Patriots of the NFC and who have a similar success record in the past four years...

2010: Patrick Robinson (starting CB), Charles Brown (OT - injuries, contributed in spots). Jimmy Graham (All-Pro TE), Junior Galette (backup DE), Chris Ivory (2nd string RB, contributor)

2011: Cameron Jordan (starting DE), Mark Ingram (backup, contributed), Martez Wilson (3rd string LB, in rotation as pass-rusher DE), Greg Romeus (DE - redshirted rookie year, IRed next year), Isa Abdul-Quddus (became starting S), Joe Morgan (5th WR), Michael Higgins (backup TE)

2012: Akiem Hicks (backup NT), Nick Toon (WR, IRed), Corey White (CB, IRed), Andrew Tiller (CB, IRed), Marcel Jones (OT, IRed), Jerico Nelson (backup CB), Tyrunn Walker (3rd string DT), Travaris Cadet (3rd string RB)

So the Saints have obtained 4 starters, 5 contributors, and 11 players with potential.
In other words, they have a lot of picks who have been unlucky with injuries or who have hung around on the edges of the roster. Overall though, their drafting looks pretty sparse in this stretch. Most of their starters are in their prime, but at certain positions (cough secondary cough), they are pretty much just throwing whoever they have out there. In three years time, this team will be decimated unless they draft replacements aggressively.

Overall, we see that the Patriots compare favorably with the top teams in the NFC. We have done a great job of developing starters and truly overturning our entire defense.

Finally, let's look at the Steelers as a favor to freemanator:

2010: Maurkice Pouncey (top-5 center), Jason Worilds (top backup LB), Emanuel Sanders (3rd WR), Stevenson Sylvester (backup LB), J. Dwyer (starting RB, had some issues), Antonio Brown (starting WR),

2011: Cam Heyward (backup DE), Marcus Gilbert (starting LG, IRed last year, will have to fight for his job), Curtis Brown (backup CB), Cortez Allen (backup CB, nickel and dime starter), Chris Carter (top backup LB, started for Harrison), Baron Batch (4th string RB)

2012: David DeCastro (starting G), Mike Adams (starting RT, got IRed), Sean Spence (IRed), David Paulson (3rd TE), Kelvin Beachum (backup G/T, started in spots), Will Johnson (starting FB), Adrian Robinson (backup LB), Robert Golden (3rd string CB), James Butler (starting P)

So we see the Steelers have obtained 7 starters, 6 contributors, and 7 players with potential.

When I say players with potential, I had to include many players who are still unknown like Sean Spence, Adrian Robinson, Robert Golden, Baron Batch, Curtis Brown, Marcus Gilbert. The Steelers have got hit hard with the injury bug. In the last three years, they have retained almost no UDFAs. This past year, they had 4 - and that saved their UDFA record because before that, they had none who still remain on the roster. Overall, their drafting does not measure up to the Patriots - however, they tend to go for a very conservative draft approach. They don't trade much and they pick blue-chip players at the top and roll the dice at the bottom. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. This examination taught me that the Steelers have been average at drafting but they are suffering from the fact that almost their entire defense is comprised of older veteran player starters.

At this point, we've looked at the top AFC and NFC teams. For the final part of this 3-part series, I'm going to compare the Patriots drafting to our very own AFC East.

What do you guys think? Please rec if you enjoyed reading.

The views expressed in these FanPosts are not necessarily those of the writers or SBNation.

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