The Patriots opened up the draft class with a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 2 7ths. The biggest move was the first major move, when the Patriots traded out of the first round to pick up a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and a 7th round pick. They then went to work on the 2nd day of the draft, hitting on 3 of the 4 picks in that phase of the draft. Day 3 produced fairly lackluster results, but only had 1 pick before 200 so the expectations were pretty low. Overall, the Patriots did an excellent job that year as it produced 3 core players for the Super Bowl XLIX championship team and 2 from the Super Bowl LI championship team.
A: Developed into an All-Pro/Pro-Bowler
B: Developed into an quality starter
C: Developed into a rotational player or late-round miss
D: Mid-round miss
F: High-round miss
Traded 29 for 52, 83, 102, 229: A. The Patriots turned a late first into a mid 2nd, mid 3rd, early 4th, and a mid 7th. Moving back 23 spots for 3 meaningful picks in a draft class that lacked star power at the top turned out to be the right move. It also helps that the Patriots turned 3 of those 4 picks into meaningful contributors on the Super Bowl XLIX team and 2 of them sticking around for Super Bowl LI.
#52, Jamie Collins, LB, Southern Miss: A. Collins developed into what was the best case scenario. An undersized, but uber athletic edge rusher, the Patriots moved him to an inside linebacker role where his athleticism made a ton of plays. Collins was voted into the Pro Bowl in 2015, where his value peaked with the Patriots. The Patriots had offered Collins a $10M/yr long term deal before the 2016 season, but he turned it down and that led to Collins perhaps trying to play for his next contract instead of playing within the framework of the defense. That led to an unceremonious exit to Cleveland, where Collins got a 4/$50M deal right after the season ended. While he didn’t stick around, the pick itself was a massive hit for the Patriots.
#59, Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall: F. The Patriots picked Dobson over other WRs on the board that had more productive careers, but Dobson never seemed to ever settle into a consistent role. Dobson had decent football IQ and route running skills, but could not catch the ball if his life depended on it. Dobson’s inability to contribute consistently through bad hands and a bad run of various foot and ankle injuries eventually got him replaced by Brandon LaFell in the 2014 lineup and Chris Hogan in 2016. With Keenan Allen and Stedman Bailey on the board, that was a massive miss for the Patriots.
#83, Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers: B. Logan Ryan was an average-sized CB with terrific agility numbers but lacked explosive speed. Even with those physical limitations, Ryan proved to be an intelligent and aggressive CB with great instincts and playmaking ability. While Ryan had a decent rookie year, had a bad sophomore season although he was playing behind Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Kyle Arrington, so he didn’t see the field often. Injuries put Ryan in the starting lineup early in 2015 and he never looked back. Ryan often handled the opponent’s #1 WR with safety help, but shut down receivers like Deandre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas, and Mohammed Sanu the final two seasons. His strong final two seasons earned him a nice contract from the Tennessee Titans.
#91, Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers: B. What was considered a reach pick in 2013 is now a foundation piece on the defense. Harmon often came in when the Patriots went nickel and wanted an extra safety on the field that could handle the deep parts of the field. In his second year, Harmon started seeing the field more and started to develop a knack for 4th quarter interceptions to end ball games. Harmon is probably the least versatile safety on the field and will probably never make a Pro Bowl, but because Devin McCourty can do everything and Harmon is very reliable at what he does so it’s no big deal. Harmon re-signed on a 4-year contract on the first day of free agency in 2017 and is expected to take on a larger role as the team’s 2nd highest paid safety.
#102, Josh Boyce, WR, TCU: D. In what was a mid-round gamble at the position, Boyce had the same issues as Aaron Dobson in why he could not develop. Boyce was a workout warrior who showed flashes of agility and speed, but could not catch the ball. The misses on Boyce and Dobson likely changed the approach on scouting WRs as the next notable WR they drafted was Malcolm Mitchell, whose looking like a mid-round steal after 1 season.
#226, Michael Buchanan, EDGE, Illinois: C. The Patriots took a late-round flyer on another athletic edge rusher, but the issues for Buchanan were he lacked the strength to play in the NFL. After seeing a lot of the same for 2 years, the Patriots jettisoned Buchanan and moved on. Not a bad pick because most late round picks don’t make the roster or stick for very long.
#235, Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers: C. Beauharnais played like what you’d expect from a late round LB. With Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower at the top of the depth chart, Beauharnais was basically a bottom of the roster player. In his 2nd season with the team, got beat out by Deontae Skinner in preseason. Beauharnais is the most recent Rutgers pick for the Patriots.
The Patriots made out like bandits in a draft that lacked star power at the top. They took an athletic edge rusher without a position in Collins and developed him into a Pro Bowl LB. Ryan and Harmon developed into critical components of the Patriots Super Bowl LI team, the latter remaining in New England after free agency. Dobson and Boyce not panning out hurts the draft, but made the Patriots change the way they scouted receivers. 3 excellent defensive players vs. 2 WR draft busts is why the draft gets a high grade.