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Deconstructing Patriots’ roster by its homegrown draft picks, rookie free agents

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Sixty percent of the roster was either drafted by the organization or signed their first contracts with it.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The draft is the protein and fats. Free agency, waiver claims and trades are the carbohydrates.

All those macronutrients are needed to sustain an NFL roster.

But while those latter types of acquisitions often serve as the faster-acting supplements, those draft picks and undrafteds – if chosen wisely – provide the building blocks for future growth.

And it doesn’t take a dietitian to tell you that’s something the New England Patriots have balanced quite well under Bill Belichick.

A total of 72 players currently reside in the Patriots’ fold, and 27 of whom were drafted by the head coach’s war room while 16 others signed their first professional contracts with New England as undrafted rookies.

ROSTER BY ARRIVAL

  • Draft pick: 37.5 percent
  • Original undrafted signing: 22 percent
  • Free agency, waivers, trades: 40.5 percent

Belichick has taken satisfaction in those numbers, as he shared in December 2015 after seven players who entered the league as Patriots were voted to the Pro Bowl.

“I’m proud of the fact that all seven of those players are homegrown,” Belichick told reporters. “They all came in as Patriots, spent their whole career as Patriots, developed as Patriots one way or another, but that’s what they all are.”

A few of those Patriots that Belichick was referencing have changed clubs over the three years since, like now-Arizona Cardinals pass-rusher Chandler Jones, Cleveland Browns linebacker Jamie Collins and Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler. But the roster’s ratio hasn’t much.

Sixty percent of it is still homegrown, so to speak.

NFL: AFC Championship-Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

And it’s a rate that will climb higher in the coming weeks when another draft – one in which the team has eight picks heading into – takes place.

But what about those remaining selections and post-draft pickups New England has made over year’s past? Where are their places on the depth chart?

One quarterback, running back and tight end who were drafted by the team are still part of it. Two offensive tackles, defensive tackles, linebackers, corners – if accounting for Devin McCourty’s drafted position – and specialists each are as well. The same goes for three wide receivers and interior offensive linemen, plus four defensive ends and safeties apiece.

And that’s before looking at the original rookie free agents.

HOMEGROWN BY POSITION

  • Quarterbacks: 2
  • Running backs: 2
  • Tight ends: 2
  • Wide receivers: 4
  • Offensive tackles: 4
  • Interior offensive linemen: 5
  • Defensive tackles: 3
  • Defensive ends: 5
  • Linebackers: 3
  • Cornerbacks: 2
  • Safeties: 6
  • Specialists: 3

When accounting for both the draft picks and the original undrafted additions, 31 of the 43 players spent time on New England’s 53-man roster last season.

That tally, of course, doesn’t include wideouts Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell, rookie third-rounders Derek Rivers and Antonio Garcia, defensive tackle Vincent Valentine or corner Cyrus Jones due to full campaigns spent on reserve lists. But it also doesn’t include the likes of fullback James Develin – who broke into the league on the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad – edge-rusher Eric Lee – who was signed off the Buffalo Bills’ midseason – or players who joined the 10-man scout team after previous stops like corners Jomal Wiltz and Ryan Lewis.

But that 43-man makeup should say something.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

So should the round-by-round arrival times of New England’s in-house players.

Only seven of whom were taken by Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio over the first two rounds of the draft.

FIRST ROUND

  • 2010: Devin McCourty
  • 2012: Dont’a Hightower
  • 2015: Malcom Brown

SECOND ROUND

  • 2009: Patrick Chung
  • 2010: Rob Gronkowski
  • 2015: Jordan Richards
  • 2016: Cyrus Jones

THIRD ROUND

  • 2013: Duron Harmon
  • 2015: Geneo Grissom
  • 2016: Joe Thuney
  • 2016: Vincent Valentine
  • 2017: Derek Rivers
  • 2017: Antonio Garcia

FOURTH ROUND

  • 2006: Stephen Gostkowski
  • 2014: James White
  • 2015: Trey Flowers
  • 2015: Shaq Mason
  • 2016: Malcolm Mitchell
  • 2017: Deatrich Wise Jr.

FIFTH ROUND

  • 2008: Matthew Slater
  • 2011: Marcus Cannon
  • 2015: Joe Cardona

SIXTH ROUND

  • 2000: Tom Brady
  • 2012: Nate Ebner
  • 2016: Elandon Roberts
  • 2016: Ted Karras

SEVENTH ROUND

  • 2009: Julian Edelman

ORIGINAL UNDRAFTED

  • 2009: Brian Hoyer
  • 2012: Brandon Bolden
  • 2013: Ryan Allen
  • 2015: David Andrews
  • 2015: Brandon King
  • 2016: Jonathan Jones
  • 2017: Harvey Langi
  • 2017: Jacob Hollister
  • 2017: Cody Hollister
  • 2017: David Jones
  • 2017: Damarius Travis
  • 2017: Adam Butler
  • 2017: Cole Croston
  • 2017: Andrew Jelks
  • 2017: Jason King
  • 2017: Keionta Davis

A dozen more had their names called by New England between the third and fourth rounds, and another eight had draft cards filled out by Belichick’s nucleus between the fifth and seventh rounds – with Edelman the lowest overall pick and only seventh-rounder of the group at No. 232.

Yet for every 10 players in the Patriots’ fold, six find themselves in the same place they began. At least for now.

April 26 will mark the start of more stays. And more will come to an end over the months that follow.

But is clear that continuity and turnover aren’t mutually exclusive. And every so often, a homegrown player like safety Patrick Chung and quarterback Brian Hoyer becomes one again.