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No. 96 overall: A Patriots glance through the NFL draft’s last decade

Four of the last 10 players selected No. 96 overall currently reside on an NFL roster.

The first and second rounds of the 2017 NFL draft may very well be uneventful for the New England Patriots, who have been anything but since the start of the new league year on March 9.

As a result of the trades that landed wideout Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints and defensive end Kony Ealy from the Carolina Panthers, New England’s war room isn’t currently scheduled to be on the clock until the third round. But it’s worth revisiting just what caliber of prospects might be waiting there.

Having taken a look back through the last 10 players picked at No. 72 overall – the Patriots’ first slated selection – let’s now take a look back on the last 10 players picked at the organization’s second.

No. 96 overall.

The last decade has seen three running backs, two defensive tackles, two cornerbacks, one linebacker, one offensive lineman and one wide receiver called at No. 96 overall. Four remain on an NFL roster. Three remain with the team that drafted them. None have been selected to a Pro Bowl.

That 10-year history isn’t necessarily a projection on what’ll transpire the night of April 28. It is, however, useful in setting a realistic median for where the Patriots stand leading up to it.

So, here’s a rundown on pick 96.

2016: Vincent Valentine, DT, Patriots

New England’s brass sat in the same spot only a year ago, and turned to Valentine with the first of four compensatory selections. The 6-foot-2, 320-pound Nebraska Cornhusker did not draw the same pre-draft attention as his college teammate, Maliek Collins, but Valentine proceeded to appear in 13 games during his rookie season in Foxborough, collecting two starts to go with 19 tackles and one sack over the course of 288 defensive snaps.

2015: Xavier Cooper, DT, Browns

Cleveland went defensive tackle at No. 96, too, taking Cooper out of Washington State just two months after he clocked the fastest 40-yard dash – 4.86 seconds – among his position group at the NFL Scouting Combine. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Cooper has gone on to play in 27 of a possible 32 games for the Browns, starting two games and accruing 39 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

2014: Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings

The Georgia Southern do-it-all amassed 3,899 rushing yards, 165 receiving yards, 929 passing yards, 74 return yards, 55 all-purpose touchdowns and even two interceptions on defense for the Eagles. Since then, McKinnon has handled 324 carries for 1,348 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, along with 91 catches for 563 yards and three scores through the air for the Vikings. The 24-year-old back has logged 42 games and 13 starts.

2013: Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs

Davis spent three-plus seasons with Kansas City before being traded to Green Bay in October of 2016 in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft choice. The 5-foot-10, 227-pound Razorbacks product would be waived only two weeks into his Packers tenure, and went on to make a one-day stop with the New York Jets before rejoining the Chiefs in November. The Pittsburgh Steelers later signed Davis this March. He’s tallied 250 carries for 805 yards, 31 catches for 271 yards, and 12 total touchdowns over 57 contests.

2012: Chris Givens, WR, Rams

An early fourth-round pick in 2012, Givens went on to have early success in St. Louis. The ex-Wake Forest target hauled in 76 passes for 1,267 yards and three touchdowns over his first two NFL campaigns. Although over his next two, Givens would catch just 31 passes for 505 yards and two touchdowns. The 27-year-old was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for a future seventh-round pick in October of 2015, and spent camp with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016 before being released. Givens remains a free agent.

2011: Alex Green, RB, Packers

The onetime Hawaii rusher spent two seasons with Green Bay, accumulating 138 carries for 475 yards and 19 catches for 131 yards before being waived in September of 2013. It was then that Green was claimed by the Jets, although his time in East Rutherford would be over after an additional 13 appearances and 43 offensive yards. The 28-year-old was waived by the Jets in August of 2014, and has not played another NFL down.

2010: Brandon Ghee, CB, Bengals

Ghee spent four years in Cincinnati, missing all of 2012 due to a wrist injury before returning to play a career-high 10 games in 2013. The corner hailing from Wake Forest later had cups of coffee with the San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans, eventually making his way back to the Bengals during the 2015 offseason before being released that September. Ghee, now 29, has not been on a roster since then. His NFL resume includes 29 games, 21 tackles, six pass deflections and one interception.

2009: Keenan Lewis, CB, Steelers

Lewis played in 83 regular-season games between his time with Pittsburgh and New Orleans before landing on injured reserve in 2015. The former Oregon State corner started 49 games over that span while accumulating 213 tackles, 53 passes defended, seven interceptions and three forced fumbles. Lewis underwent hip surgery in January of 2016 and hasn’t been on an NFL roster since his Saints release last August. New Orleans had signed the now-30-year-old to a five-year, $26.3 million contract back in 2013.

2008: Chad Rinehart, OL, Redskins

A 2007 first-team All-American out of Northern Iowa, Rinehart did not appear in a game during his first season with Washington and started four during his second before a broken fibula sent him to injured reserve. The Redskins later waived Rinehart prior to the 2010 campaign, and the guard-slash-center went on to be a member of the Jets’ and Buffalo Bills’ practice squads before earning a 53-man roster spot once again. The 31-year-old Rinehart finished having started 47 of his 58 games – including all 16 for the Chargers during the 2014 season – before being released in March of 2015.

2007: Anthony Waters, LB, Chargers

Waters, who suffered a torn ACL during his senior year at Clemson, missed the entirety of his rookie season with San Diego. The 6-foot-3, 238-pound linebacker worked back to appear in seven games and record three tackles in 2008, but was subsequently waived by the Chargers in February of 2009. Waters later joined the Saints and was re-signed to New Orleans’ active roster following a two-month stay on the Bills’ practice squad. He’d play in 13 games with the Saints across the 2009 and 2010 seasons to collect 11 tackles.

Time is still ahead for the likes of Valentine, Cooper and McKinnon, but over the last 10 drafts, the 96th overall pick has netted three players who’ve gone on to start at least 13 games in a single NFL season.

Lewis and Rinehart are the only two to start all 16.