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Imagine what the Patriots could do with a “lottery” draft pick

With the 2016 NBA Draft in the books, let’s think about what the Patriots – and Bill Belichick – could do with a top-3 draft pick.

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Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the NBA Draft lottery, and the draft itself, is over.  The Boston Celtics didn’t get screwed, per se, but they didn’t exactly land a great pick either.  In a draft year that was largely considered to consist of two players (Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram) and everyone else, the Celts wound up with the number three pick and took Cal forward Jaylen Brown.  Some people were happy!  Some people were not.   Go read for all the details.

Danny Ainge and the Celtics playing Monopoly with real cash and drafting in the lottery even though the C’s made the NBA playoffs this year makes you wonder – what could the Pats do IF they had a top-three pick in the draft?  The NBA lottery decides the order of the top three picks in the draft, as opposed to the NFL’s strictly record-based draft order where if you suck, you draft first, and if you don’t, you draft later.

The highest that the Patriots have ever drafted in the Bill Belichick era was pick number six.  That was in the 2001 NFL Draft, and, raise your hands, kids, who did the Patriots take with that pick?

Richard Seymour, defensive end, University of Georgia.

Let’s run down Richard Seymour’s accomplishments real quick (you can check out a better retrospective on Seymour’s career from CSNNE’s Tom Curran here if you want to):

3-time Super Bowl Champion (2001, 2003, 2004)

All-Pro (2003, 2004, 2005)

Pro Bowl (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)

Put simply, Richard Seymour was the kind of guy that if you saw him lining up against your offense, you just thought "Tonight…ain’t gonna be good".

So with that in mind, and knowing that the Patriots under Bill Belichick usually don’t whiff on first-round draft picks, let’s have some fun and wonder what the Pats could have had with some of these top-3 picks – which is what the NBA Draft Lottery could give you.  We’ll start with this year’s draft, and work backwards.  Nobody post any gas mask bong videos, please.

2016 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Jared Goff, QB, California, selected by the Los Angeles Rams

Pick 2:  Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State, selected by the Philadelphia Eagles

Pick 3:  Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State, selected by the San Diego Chargers

Blah.  This is kind of boring for the Patriots, given that New England hasn’t really worried about the quarterback situation since the days of AOL Instant Messenger.  It’s way more drool-worthy to think about what the Patriots could do with the fourth overall pick – Ohio State’s BAMF running back Ezekiel Elliott.

2015 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State, selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pick 2:  Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon, selected by the Tennessee Titans

Pick 3:  Dante Fowler, DE, Florida, selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars

Would Marcus Mariota (who was on pace to break the rookie touchdown record before getting injured) or Jameis Winston replace Tom Brady, in a Bledsoe-Brady type situation?  We’ll obviously never know, but this is another draft where the number 4 pick just makes you drool.  Imagine Brady slinging the rock to Amari Cooper.

2014 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina, selected by the Houston Texans

Pick 2:  Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn, selected by the St. Louis (at the time) Rams

Pick 3:  Blake Bortles, QB, University of Central Florida, selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars

At the time, the Patriots surely would have loved to get some offensive line help – except that part where Greg Robinson has been garbage for his entire NFL career so far, according to Pro Football Focus.  At least he can always tell his kids how good he was in college.

Kind of like Clowney.  Too soon?

2013 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan, selected by the Kansas City Chiefs

Pick 2:  Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M, selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick 3:  Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon, selected by the Miami Dolphins

What a dumb top-3.  Moving on…

2012 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford, selected by the Indianapolis Colts

Pick 2:  Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor, selected by the Washington Redskins

Pick 3:  Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama, selected by the Cleveland Browns

Doesn’t Andrew Luck just seem like the perfect Belichick guy?

2011 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Cam Newton, QB, Auburn, selected by the Carolina Panthers

Pick 2:  Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M, selected by the Denver Broncos

Pick 3:  Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama, selected by the Buffalo Bills

Ah, yes, Von Miller, the guy who almost single-handedly barbecued the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game this year and proceeded to barbecue Cam Newton and the Panthers in the Super Bowl.  Von Miller in New England, with Donta Hightower and Jamie Collins at linebacker, would be giving the guy in MarioKart that already has a Super Star a blue shell.

Also, Marcell Dareus just got signed to a $100,000,000 extension by the Buffalo Bills.  That’s not a typo.

2010 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma, selected by the St. Louis Rams

Pick 2:  Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska, selected by the Detroit Lions

Pick 3:  Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma, selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Great year for the Big 12, huh?

Ndamukong Suh’s barf-inducing dirty play aside, McCoy and Suh have EIGHT Pro Bowls between the two of them.  And one of them could have been on a D-line that featured the still-wrecking-stuff Vince Wilfork, if the lottery ping-pong balls fell New England’s way.

2009 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia, selected by the Detroit Lions

Pick 2:  Jason Smith, OT, Baylor, selected by the St. Louis Rams

Pick 3:  Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU, selected by the Kansas City Chiefs

We’ll see what Matt Stafford can do when he doesn’t have an all-time great receiver this season, but as for the other two…Jason Smith has started 26 NFL games and has been released three times.  Tyson Jackson has 9 career sacks in 6 NFL seasons.  Not great!

The Patriots didn’t draft in the first round in ’09, and if you look at which players went in the first round, maybe that’s for the best.

2008 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Jake Long, OT, Michigan, selected by the Miami Dolphins

Pick 2:  Chris Long, DE, Virginia, selected by the St. Louis Rams

Pick 3:  Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College, selected by the Atlanta Falcons

WOAH.  Which Long do you take, if you’re in that situation?  The four-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle (Jake)?  Or the guy who has 54.5 career sacks to date (Chris)?

It’s a great dilemma to have.

2007 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU, selected by the Oakland Raiders

Pick 2:  Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech, selected by the Detroit Lions

Pick 3:  Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin, selected by the Cleveland Browns

You guys have all seen that Lil Wayne commercial where he pours a whole bottle of champagne on his phone going "WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT????" the whole time, right?

Joe Thomas has been the Dikembe Mutombo of left tackles for almost ten years now, telling pass-rushers "NO NO NO!" at an all-time level without fail for a whole bunch of really, really bad Cleveland Browns teams.  On the other hand, all that Tom Brady and the Patriots did with one good year of Randy Moss was play tether-ball with the NFL record books.  Brady and Calvin Johnson together could only be commented on appropriately by the announcer in NBA Jam.  Boomshakalaka!  Razzle dazzle!  Oh my!  He’s heating up!  Is it the shoes?? They all would work.

2006 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Mario Williams, DE, North Carolina State, selected by the Houston Texans

Pick 2:  Reggie Bush, RB, USC, selected by the New Orleans Saints

Pick 3:  Vince Young, QB, Texas, selected by the Tennessee Titans

Think Chris Long’s 54.5 career sacks are impressive?  Mario Williams has almost double that – 96 overall.  To put it another way, Andre Tippett holds the Patriots all-time sack record, with 100 career sacks.  That’s the kind of dude that quarterbacks look under their bed for before going to sleep at night.

2005 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Alex Smith, QB, Utah, selected by the San Francisco 49ers

Pick 2:  Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn, selected by the Miami Dolphins

Pick 3:  Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan, selected by the Cleveland Browns

Nobody should be drafting any of these guys with a top-3 pick.

2004 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Eli Manning, QB, Ole Miss, selected by the San Diego Chargers (and then traded to the Giants, obviously)

Pick 2:  Robert Gallery, OT, Iowa, selected by the Oakland Raiders

Pick 3:  Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Pittsburgh, selected by the Arizona Cardinals

Larry Fitz and Deion Branch on the same team, with Corey Dillon in the backfield?  The 2004 Patriots went 14-2 on the way to back-to-back Super Bowls, and while nobody’s complaining that the Pats ended up with Vince Wilfork and Ben Watson in the first round of the draft that year, Larry Fitzgerald catching bombs from Tom Brady is the world we all want to live in.

2003 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  Carson Palmer, QB, USC, selected by the Cincinnati Bengals

Pick 2:  Charles Rogers, WR, Michigan State, selected by the Detroit Lions

Pick 3:  Andre Johnson, Wr, Miami, selected by the Houston Texans

Don’t let Andre Johnson’s I’m-just-here-so-I-don’t-get-fined performance last year in Indianapolis fool you.  Here’s just a couple of the records Andre Johnson has in the NFL record books:

9th overall in receiving yards, and if Johnson can haul in 480 yards this year, he can pass Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison and jump to 7th.

8th overall in career receptions, and if he catches 25 passes this year, he’ll pass Reggie Wayne (again) and Terrell Owens and take the 6th overall spot.

And as far as team records, it’d be easier to just list which Houston Texans receiving record Andre Johnson doesn’t have, rather than the ones he does.

And as a bonus, remember when Andre fought Cortland Finnegan?

That was awesome.

2002 NFL Draft

Pick 1:  David Carr, QB, Fresno State, selected by the Houston Texans

Pick 2:  Julius Peppers, DE, North Carolina, selected by the Carolina Panthers

Pick 3:  Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon, selected by the Detroit Lions

Fun fact – the Patriots traded quarterback Drew Bledsoe to the Buffalo Bills on the last day of the 2002 NFL Draft.  Meaning they were surely looking at how the draft board would shake out, and after figuring out they wouldn’t be able to draft any of the top QB prospects, basically said "Nah, we’re good" and rolled with Tom Brady from there on out.

But Julius Peppers, though, man…remember a few minutes ago how we were talking about Mario Williams having 96 career sacks?

Julius Peppers has ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SIX sacks, and he’s played on some really, really bad Panthers teams.

So that’s each and every draft where Bill Belichick has been making the calls and swinging the deals for the New England Patriots.  Belichick basically gets credited with the Patriots automatically winning double-digit games every season, and the craziest part about that is it means New England is almost always drafting in the bottom half of the draft.  Meaning they never even have McLovin’s chance at a house party of getting any of the guys we’ve been talking about without making a Julio Jones-type deal, which Belichick clearly will never do.

But think about the lottery this way.  Cleveland had a 1.7% chance at winning the NBA draft lottery in 2014, and they won it anyway and took Kyrie Irving.  The odds of the Cleveland LeBrons…or, sorry, Cavaliers getting four number one picks from the lottery are about 1 in 10,000.  The Orlando Magic had a 1.5% chance of getting the lottery pick the year after they got the lottery pick and drafted Shaq – but they got it again in 1993 and ended up with Penny Hardaway.

That type of stuff is how some of the gnarliest teams in any sport get built.  A few early picks and some smart free-agent shopping snagged guys like Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and Star Lotulelei for the Panthers, and that team went 15-1 last year and probably could have beaten Denver in this year’s Super Bowl.  Same thing for the Oakland Raiders, who have all of a sudden learned how to draft and picked up Amari Cooper, Khalil Mack, and Derek Carr to pull themselves out of the AFC West basement.

Giving the type of a player that would be picked with a lottery pick to Bill Belichick would just be plain unfair.  We’re talking generational talents like Julius Peppers and Larry Fitzgerald here.

Then again, maybe Bill would have just traded a top-3 pick for future picks.