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2016 NFL Draft: Don't Count on the Patriots Late Round Picks to be Impact Players

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The Patriots selected four intriguing players in the late rounds, but they shouldn't have any expectations attached.

To start, I'll let you know that I'm intrigued by ST Kamu Grugier-Hill and his athleticism, I think OG Ted Karras can compete for a role, and that LB Elandon Roberts and WR Devin Lucien always stood out on tape.

But I'm not expecting any of these players to contribute to the Patriots in 2016. I'm only expecting one of them to contribute ever.

Head coach Bill Belichick always treats the 6th and 7th rounds of the draft as a chance to effectively get dibs on a player prior to the rush of the undrafted free agent signings. This also means that he feels free enough to release these players as if they were undrafted free agents with little draft capital expended.

Over the past decade, the Patriots have made 35 selections in the 6th and 7th rounds, or an average of 3.5 per year. Everyone can point to the success of wide receiver Julian Edelman, the 232nd pick of the 2009 draft, but he stands alone with regards to late round contributions.

One decade ago, the 2006 class yielded defensive lineman Le'Kevin Smith (6th round), who played in 31 games with 13 tackles, and defensive back Willie Andrews (7th round), who added 30 games and multiple legal issues.

In 2008, defensive back Mike Richardson (6th) played 10 games with 15 tackles.

The 2009 draft included Edelman, as well as defensive lineman Myron Pryor (6th round), who played 24 games with 2 starts, and long snapper Jake Ingram (6th round), who chipped in 24 games before his release.

In 2010, the Patriots added defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick (7th round), who played in 34 games with 14 starts over three seasons.

In 2012, New England added safety Nate Ebner (6th round), who has been active for 57 games as a special teams player, and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (7th round), who played 29 games with 20 starts.

And in 2013, the Patriots selected edge defender Michael Buchanan (7th round), who played 18 games.

In total, 10 players drafted in the 6th and 7th rounds over the past decade have suited up for more than 10 games in a Patriots uniform. That's one per year. Edelman and Dennard are the only players to be considered starters for the team, while the defensive linemen always found a way to contribute to a rotation.

So who is it going to be from the 2016 class? Grugier-Hill has an open lane to the roster if he can contribute on special teams and he could possibly take the vacated roster spot from Tavon Wilson. Roberts could possibly beat out Jonathan Bostic for the final linebacker spot. Maybe Karras could earn a roster spot on the crowded interior line, and maybe Devin Lucien will earn a Chris Harper-like stash spot.

But I'm not going to hold my breath for any of these players to have a serious impact- and I'm going to be thrilled if and when that one player stands out in the preseason and makes the roster.