If the New England Patriots didn’t like the 2015 NFL draft, you wouldn’t know it by the transaction wire.
That was reaffirmed Saturday when ESPN’s Field Yates and Adam Schefter reported that nose tackle Danny Shelton, the 12th overall pick in the 2015 class, was headed to Foxborough along with a 2018 fifth-round pick in exchange for a 2019 third-rounder.
Shelton, a Washington product who started 44 games with the Cleveland Browns on the way to accruing 128 tackles and 1.5 sacks, becomes the 25th player selected in that year’s draft to be acquired by New England.
Which means roughly 10 percent of those 256 prospects who heard their name called between April 30 and May 2, 2015 have been in the Patriots’ fold at one point or another since then.
Eleven of whom were drafted by the war room occupied by head coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio, then-director of pro scouting Bob Quinn and director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort. Four others, including the 24-year-old Shelton, were traded for.
Eight more initially signed on as members of the practice squad. Another was signed as a free agent when rosters approached 90. And then another was claimed off waivers midseason.
You won’t find the likes of center David Andrews or core special-teamer Brandon King among the names, of course; they weren’t drafted. But the following were.
2015 DRAFT PICKS TO STOP BY NEW ENGLAND
- Round 1, No. 12 overall: Danny Shelton
- Round 1, No. 29 overall: Phillip Dorsett
- Round 1, No. 32 overall: Malcom Brown – Patriots draft pick
- Round 2, No. 47 overall: Eric Rowe
- Round 2, No. 64 overall: Jordan Richards – Patriots draft pick
- Round 3, No. 80 overall: Alex Carter
- Round 3, No. 97 overall: Geneo Grissom – Patriots draft pick
- Round 4, No. 101 overall: Trey Flowers – Patriots draft pick
- Round 4, No. 111 overall: Tre’ Jackson – Patriots draft pick
- Round 4, No. 114 overall: Jamil Douglas
- Round 4, No. 131 overall: Shaq Mason – Patriots draft pick
- Round 4, No. 135 overall: Marcus Hardison
- Round 5, No. 150 overall: Cedric Thompson
- Round 5, No. 166 overall: Joe Cardona – Patriots draft pick
- Round 5, No. 173 overall: James O’Shaughnessy
- Round 6, No. 178 overall: Matthew Wells – Patriots draft pick
- Round 6, No. 188 overall: Tony Steward
- Round 6, No. 190 overall: Ian Silberman
- Round 6, No. 202 overall: AJ Derby – Patriots draft pick
- Round 6, No. 203 overall: Darius Kilgo
- Round 6, No. 213 overall: Kennard Backman
- Round 7, No. 231 overall: Joey Iosefa
- Round 7, No. 233 overall: Da’Ron Brown
- Round 7, No. 247 overall: Darryl Roberts – Patriots draft pick
- Round 7, No. 253 overall: Xzavier Dickson – Patriots draft pick
That 2015 crop of draft choices will continue to grow in the coming months and years.
Such turnover is to be expected as four-year rookie contracts reach their expiration dates – New England has cycled through 26 players who were picked in 2014 – as some organizations wave good-bye before things get to that juncture. But it is something to see such turnover work its way to one place so soon.
And it has seen the Patriots roster a trio of first-rounders with potential fifth-year options, plus two second-rounders, two third-rounders, five fourth-rounders, three fifth-rounders, six sixth-rounders, and four seventh-rounders from that draft alone.
Not all tenures lasted long enough to be considered one. Five of the Patriots’ own 2015 picks were gone by the end of the 2016 campaign if not sooner, and three – linebacker Matt Wells, cornerback Darryl Roberts and defensive end Xzavier Dickson – never appeared in a regular-season game for the team.
Out-of-house additions like wide receiver Da’Ron Brown, tight ends Kennard Backman and James O’Shaughnessy, offensive linemen Jamil Douglas and Ian Silberman, defensive linemen Marcus Hardison and Darius Kilgo, linebacker Tony Steward, and defensive backs Alex Carter and Cedric Thompson never did, either.
But nine of the 25 are currently under contract with the Patriots entering the new league year.
Shelton, wideout Phillip Dorsett, defensive tackle Malcom Brown, corner Eric Rowe, safety Jordan Richards, defensive ends Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers, guard Shaq Mason and long snapper Joe Cardona were all chosen within the first 166 slots.
By and large, that’d be quite a draft. Three years after the fact, it is New England’s.