After the New England Patriots released center Bryan Stork on Wednesday, the Patriots 2014 draft class officially threw their collective hat in the ring for the title of Worst Draft Class in the Bill Belichick Era.
As head coach and de facto general manager, Bill Belichick has done an amazing job of building the roster over the years, through the draft and by taking advantage of undervalued free agents. The 2014 draft class is merely an exception to his standard of excellence.
There are just four members of the 2014 draft class still on the roster after just two complete seasons in the league: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (2nd round), RB James White (4th round), OT Cameron Fleming (4th round), and OG Jon Halapio (6th round)
Garoppolo will have four regular season games to prove his worth as a 2nd round pick during the suspension of Tom Brady, while White will have a larger role due to the knee injury of Dion Lewis.
Fleming has been on and off the roster as a practice squad body, but the potentially season-threatening injuries to Sebastian Vollmer might have elevated his odds of making the team. Halapio didn’t make the roster as a rookie and was brought back this summer as a camp body.
In other words, the only reason any of these players are seeing the field is because the starters are unavailable.
This class started out with first round pick Dominique Easley, who was cut because of differences with the coaching staff and because he wasn’t healthy enough to remain on the field. Stork has been released due to injuries of his own, and because undrafted sophomore David Andrews straight up won the starting job.
The Patriots draft class from 2006 has been regarded as the worst under Belichick, but that might change.
I won’t count the 2007 class because the team traded away their early picks for Randy Moss and Wes Welker- and the production from first round pick Brandon Meriweather is arguably better than the entire combined production from the 2014 draft class. The 2008 draft class yielded two franchise players in Jerod Mayo and Matthew Slater.
In 2006, the Patriots selected Laurence Maroney in the opening round and despite all his flaws, he was a contributor on offense. 4th round kicker Stephen Gostkowski is now the best in the league at his position. That’s better than the outcome from the 2014 draft.
In reality, the 2014 class will need some serious contributions from Jimmy Garoppolo and James White in order to compete with the 2006 draft class- and even that might not be enough.
At this point in time, the 2014 rivals the 2006 class for the title Worst Draft Class in the Bill Belichick Era.