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A History of Draft Overreactions

We're lucky that the Pulpit acts as an archive of reactions. Let's take a stroll down memory lane as we review how we've reacted to the past few drafts.

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Any chance of getting draft reaction threads from days gone by recycled? [It] would be interesting to see what the fan reaction was following the 2013, 2012, [and] 2011 drafts and compare how peeps [sic] are seeing this current draft. As a relatively new poster, [I'm] just curious how draft threads went in the past and how much the Patriots faithful truly trust in BB.


Going with today's theme of answering reader questions, I decided to hunt down how we at the Pulpit have reacted to the draft over the past few years and, if possible, how the world has perceived the drafts.

I'll lead off by saying that I'm of the opinion that Bill Belichick and co have knocked each draft since 2010 out of the park, after falling short from 2006 to 2009 (2007 not included). That's the bias that I have while approaching this research.


Our time machine allows us to go back to 2007, back to before the Pulpit was a part of SB Nation. Tommasse was able to present the context in what was a generally an empty draft for the Patriots, due to the acquisitions of Randy Moss and Wes Welker (both of which were bet with lukwarm regard). In the end, Tom gives the Patriots a B-, while the poll ends flatly in the B range, due to lack of picks and all the question marks surrounding their potential (non)impact.

Quote of the Year:

Bill Belichick is confident [Brandon] Meriweather will be a positive contributor. He dismissed Meriweather's past transgressions, rationalizing "If none of us got a chance because of mistakes we've made, none of us would ever have a chance." I guess that depends what you term a mistake. I've certainly made bad decisions, but I've never stomped on people's heads on national television.

"In Bill we trust," I keep telling myself. "Serenity now!" I'm not happy, but there's no choice but to give Meriweather a chance. One misstep, however, and I'll be among the first to say "I told you so." What goes for Meriweather goes quadruple for Moss. But we'll talk more about him -- and whether the acquisitions of Moss and Meriweather signal a change in philosophy in Foxboro -- in the next day or two.

Turns out the acquisitions were the launching point for the Patriots 16-0 regular season and their tremendous success to close out the decade. While Meriweather never panned out to be elite, he did provide a few years of quality service. In review, I'm sure we'd give this draft a higher grade than at the initial reaction.


2008 is a lost year as Pats Pulpit transitioned to SB Nation and we did not have content over that span of time.


The following season, MaPatsFan and Marima combined to provide the 2009 draft review. Marima offered her standard links, with grades ranging from C to A-. MaPatsFan gives the draft either a "B- or an A". The result hinged upon how all the project players panned out, even while Hoodie's draft board manipulation was unquestionably dominant. NESilver even offered his own opinion and gives the rundown of the picks.

Quote of the Year:

I have high hopes for Vollmer, I saw the Shrine Game and really liked that pick. He was outstanding that day. Pryor could be a guy with real upside in the 6th too. Butler’s the most talented corner. Hopefully, the structure here can help him mature. That combine performance (i.e. – not lifting as he "wasn’t ready)…that was troubling. Tape doesn’t lie though, man can really play. Tate could be interesting, but I’m not expecting anything in `09. The best part of the draft, I thought, were the 2nd rounders from TN and JAX for `10. - Danno11, from the comments

Turns out, we nailed it! The Patriots undoubtedly did an excellent job at moving around the board and nabbing additional selections, but none of the projects really worked out, apart from Sebastian Vollmer and Julian Edelman (who was lauded by second place quote of the year BigRedDog42: "Edelman will be a sleeper from this draft. Great value pick.")


2010 is when we started to really pick up momentum as a blog so we have a lot more to offer in retrospect. I gave my grades (A-! I win!), while our community voted on each player (gave Devin McCourty a C+. Booooo!). Greg provided his analysis in a two part series (Part I and Part II) and gave the Patriots an A-. Marima's post contains the draft links with grades all over the board.

Quote of the Year:

5. How many starters will come out of this draft class? I think the Patriots will get at least five starters out of this draft class (if you count punter). They could potentially get as many as eight. - Greg Knopping

In review, this has to be one of the strongest drafts in recent memory. McCourty, Gronkowski, Cunningham, Spikes, Hernandez, and Deaderick all became starters for a period of time, with Zoltan Mesko as the punter. That's seven impact players, ignoring that Ted Larsen went off to the Buccaneers and became a starter for them. A lot of people were confused by the McCourty selection, but the overall feeling was that the Patriots had themselves a strong draft, even if they ignored drafting a pass rusher for the upteenth time.


As we moved to 2011, everyone was clamoring for a pass rusher. Peter King described the Patriots process as "cute", as the team picked up an additional first round pick for the 2012 draft. Greg posted a poll for your reactions and out of nearly 1500 votes, y'all were still all over the board. 29% were happy. 34% were fine with it. 27% was disappointed. 10% hated it.

Belichick admitted that the defensive front seven players were drafted earlier than expected, which led him to move away from the position- and Ashto12 posted an excellent analysis on how the Patriots continued to groom their players.

Marima has two days of links (here and here), but a fair amount of the talking heads and columnists didn't think too much of the Patriots selections.

Quote of the Year:

He would rather take a player whose stock is down due to injury or media crusade, than overdraft and risk value. It helps explain why he took players like Ras-I Dowling, Ryan Mallet and Marcus Cannon - all 1st round talents whose stock has slipped. The Patriots have a 14-2 team and so can afford to wait for such players to make the necessary adjustments to the pro game before they allow their superior talent to take over. - Ashto12

Similar to how the 49ers have been building their team as of late, Ashto proposed that this draft was all amount adding fallen talent. Nate Solder, Dowling, Mallett, and Cannon all received first round grades at the time of the draft and the Patriots were hoping that the latter three would overcome their struggles to be potential contributors. Unfortunately, only Solder became a starter (fortunately that Mallett didn't), while Cannon has become a quality back-up. Dowling burned out because he couldn't stay healthy.

Maybe Peter King was right; maybe they got too "cute" with drafting players with health questions. But it had panned out the prior draft with Gronkowski and Hernandez, so Belichick felt comfortable dipping back with that same technique. This time, it didn't work out as well as it could have.

Oh, but the team still made the Super Bowl, so that's just, like, your opinion man.


In 2012, Belichick cashed in his "rainy day fund" (article by D.S.T.) to pick up two big contributors in Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower in the first round, both of whom held the defense together (along with Devin McCourty) over this past season. While the second round pick of Tavon Wilson has been a headscratcher, the Patriots fared pretty well according to the media. In Marima's links, a lot of people graded out the Patriots with an immediate A.

Middlesex put together his opinion and thought that the Patriots focus on their pass rush was exactly what was needed- and what people have been looking for over the past few drafts.

Quote of the Year:

If I were going to compare the Pats 1st round to current Pats, it'd be Gronk and Hernandez. Jones has the potential to be a game-changing force of dominance like Gronk and Hightower has the versatility like Hernandez to be played all over the field. - Middlesex

Middlesex hit this one right on the head. Jones and Hightower have been key pieces as the Patriots defense improved after their disatrous 2011 season. We hope they can keep moving forward, but Jones has been fantastic at defensive end, while Hightower has been asked to play all along the defensive line and at linebacker.

I'm still holding out for Tavon.


Last season, 2013, was probably the first time the draft went according to our plans. The team went in with distinct needs at wide receiver (x2), coverage linebacker, defensive end, and depth cornerback. They picked up two receivers (Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce), a coverage linebacker/defensive end hybrid (Jamie Collins), and a depth cornerback (Logan Ryan) through the team's first five picks.

That fifth pick was Duron Harmon, who we tapped as the inevitable successor to Steve Gregory. While Harmon didn't receive any post-season accolades after college, and was a determined combine snub, he was named first team all-conference two seasons in a row, and was extremely athletic.

Additionally, the Patriots used a late round pick to acquire LeGarrette Blount, a complete steal for the franchise.

In my opinion, and presented in my postmortem, the Patriots had an excellent draft where they checked off all the boxes that needed to be checked.

For those of you who want a trip in the time machine for yourself, this is our open thread for when we selected Duron Harmon. Just search halfway down the page. The reactions are exactly what you're expecting.

Here's Marima's links to the national coverage: "Bill Belichick thinking too hard." - Jason Cole.

Quote of the Year:

I like to imagine that around the 3rd, 4th round, Bill takes a big swig of whiskey, smokes a cigar, then opens his "List of draft eligible players" guidebook. Cackling maniacally, he runs his finger down the lists of names until he stops. "Duron Harmon," he says, slowly. "Duron Harmon." Faster this time. He takes another sip. "Like Duran Duran, who started when Bon Jovi were great." He takes a third sip, a deeper one. "Take him, Caserio. Duron Harmon." -

Quadruple Option

Golden. And it looks like the Patriots managed to get themselves more than just a couple of key contributors in this draft, with Dobson, Collins, Harmon, and Ryan (the first four picks!) likely to take on larger roles in 2014.


Which brings us to this season. No time machine necessary. If you've stuck with us for this long, take a gander at my portmortem, or see what everyone else is saying about our draft class.

In all honesty, It seems as if we're adding to the noise when we talk about the wide-spread panic after drafts. In general, most people seem fine with the results, even if they aren't really sure who the player is or if they even play football. That's the benefit to having Bill Belichick at the helm. Even if we're unsure- and we all have felt comfortable questioning his decisions- we know enough to let the season play out before passing final judgment.

We've had our overreactions with McCourty, Wilson, and Harmon (the last two, rightfully so), as well as some moments of triumph with Brandon Spikes and the duo of Jones and Hightower.

This year was going to be divisive due to the nature of the quarterback position. The team was always going to take one to transition away from Ryan Mallett. Where the emotion stems from is that it's also a sign of transition away from Tom Brady.

If you remove the Jimmy Garoppolo pick from the full analysis, I feel like most people wouldn't be too upset with how the weekend turned out. Of course, had the Patriots selected someone else, it changes the entire make-up of the draft (TE C.J. Fiedorowicz or DE Scott Crichton could have had potential impact as rookies, and definitely as sophomores). But because of the weight of the Garoppolo pick, the grade for this class with hinge upon whether or not he actually ever sees the field.

If he does, Belichick is viewed as a brilliant strategist who planned perfectly for the future. If he doesn't, the Patriots wasted away the final days of Tom Brady by taking another back-up quarterback.

Only time will tell. For now, we're stuck in the present.