Not all that long ago, it seemed as though you could throw a dart at a board of draft-eligible prospects from Rutgers and find a future New England Patriot.
The same could once be said for Florida, too.
Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio, Monti Ossenfort and the rest of New England’s war room figure to have been privy to the jokes. But they have remained unpredictable and adaptable – even if that’s meant turning to pipelines other than that of the Scarlet Knights and Gators.
And the Patriots have done so. The organization has drafted 68 players from 39 different schools since 2010.
The likes of Rutgers and Florida still stand well-represented in that now eight-draft sample size. However, there are other programs of note on the list. Some are ascending, some are declining, and others are under-the-rock outliers.
They’ve ranged from the Southeastern Conference to the Ohio Valley Conference. They’ve ranged from the Pac-12 to the Sun Belt. And with that, let’s tally them.
Here’s a breakdown of the Patriots’ draft picks by school dating back to 2010.
Colleges: Florida, Arkansas
The Patriots haven’t drafted a Florida product since 2014, when defensive lineman Dominique Easley and guard Jon Halapio were selected in the first and sixth round, respectively. But Arkansas, on the other end, has been on the rise in the three drafts since then. New England has taken three Razorbacks over that recent stretch with sixth-round tight end AJ Derby and fourth-round defensive ends Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise. “He played in a good program,” Caserio said of Wise. “Coach [Bret] Bielema does an outstanding job. A lot of respect for his program and the players that they put out.”
Colleges: Alabama, Rutgers
The Greg Schiano connection proved to be a strong one at Rutgers, with New England calling the names of corners Devin McCourty and Logan Ryan, safety Duron Harmon and also linebacker Steve Beauharnais from 2010 through 2013. The Nick Saban connection, meanwhile, is ongoing over at Alabama, with cornerback Cyrus Jones the most recent selection among a line of defenders featuring Brandon Deaderick, Dont’a Hightower and Xzavier Dickson.
Colleges: Illinois, Marshall, Texas Christian, North Carolina State
The Illinois radar was occupied by safety Tavon Wilson, defensive end Michael Buchanan and guard Ted Karras. As for Marshall, it was wideout Aaron Dobson, tight end Lee Smith and corner Darryl Roberts who drew draft choices from the Patriots. And at Texas Christian, there stood lineman Marcus Cannon, defensive back Malcolm Williams and receiver Josh Boyce to do the same. But North Carolina State sticks out as a more contemporary stomping ground for the Patriots, as evidenced by the 2015 second- and third-round picks of guard Joe Thuney and quarterback Jacoby Brissett – a Florida transfer.
Colleges: Eastern Illinois, Stanford, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Nebraska, Michigan
Who’d have thought the Patriots would draft a pair of Eastern Illinois grads in a three-year span? With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo selected in the second round of the 2014 draft, and safety-linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill landing in Foxborough as a sixth-rounder in 2016, that was what transpired. As for Stanford, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Nebraska and Michigan, five of the players drafted by the Patriots since 2010 – offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, safety Jordan Richards, guard Shaq Mason, receiver Malcolm Mitchell and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine – remain on the roster.
Colleges: Wisconsin, Houston, Texas, Arizona State, Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Concordia – St. Paul, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Navy, Ohio State, Northwestern, Southern Mississippi, Central Arkansas, Louisiana State, California, Virginia, Colorado, Youngstown State, Troy, UCLA
New England has turned to 24 schools for precisely one pick since 2010. That total was added to on three occasions this past weekend. At No. 83 overall, the Patriots nabbed defensive end Derek Rivers, who in the process, became just the 22nd Youngstown State player to ever be drafted and first since Harry Deligianis in 1998. “I mean, he's been in a good program,” Belichick said of Rivers. “Coach [Bo] Pelini has been an NFL coach, been a Division I head coach. They were in a championship game there at Youngstown.” Then at No. 85 overall, it was offensive tackle Antonio Garcia, who became the first Troy Trojan to get drafted since Jonathan Massaquoi in 2012. And rounding out the 2017 class was tackle UCLA’s Conor McDermott, who hit the wire as the first Bruin to be drafted by the Patriots since eventual All-Pro Matthew Slater in 2008.