With Bill Belichick as head coach, the New England Patriots have selected 18 prospects in the NFL draft’s first round.
Only three were selected higher than where the war room is currently scheduled to pick come April.
Each resided on the defensive side of the ball, with Georgia’s Richard Seymour arriving in 2001, Texas A&M’s Ty Warren in 2003 and Tennessee’s Jerod Mayo in 2008. And those arrivals combined to collect six Super Bowl rings during their tenures in New England to go with seven All-Pros and nine Pro Bowls during their tenures in the league.
But what’s ahead for the Patriots calls for different points of reference than Seymour, Warren or Mayo. The points of reference are the decisions made by different teams.
Here are the names those teams turned to at No. 15 overall over the past 15 drafts.
2006: Tye Hill, cornerback, Clemson
Hill ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine. And to the St. Louis Rams the cornerback and member of the Clemson track and field team went. Hill earned All-Rookie honors from the Pro Football Writers of America in 2006, starting 10 games while intercepting three passes. He was traded to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a seventh-rounder after injuries limited him to a dozen games through his sophomore and junior NFL seasons. Hill returned a pick for a 62-yard score before being released in March 2010. Stints with the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions followed.
2007: Lawrence Timmons, linebacker, Florida State
Timmons remained with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a decade before spending his final NFL campaign with the Miami Dolphins. The linebacker via Florida State amassed north of 1,000 tackles in his career, along with 35.5 sacks, 12 interceptions, 13 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and one touchdown. A Super Bowl XLIII champion, Timmons was voted a Pro Bowler and a second-team All-Pro in 2014. He started 150 of his 186 appearances, including playoffs, before being released by Miami to begin the 2018 league year.
2008: Branden Albert, offensive tackle, Virginia
A first-team All-ACC selection along the Virginia offensive line, Albert landed with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008. And in 2014, a five-year contract brought him to Miami Gardens. Albert was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for tight end Julius Thomas before announcing his retirement in the summer of 2017. The Jaguars formally released Albert amid training camp. The veteran bookend was twice named to the Pro Bowl and started 118 of his 120 career games between the Chiefs and Dolphins.
2009: Brian Cushing, linebacker, USC
The Houston Texans’ assistant strength and conditioning coach since 2019, Cushing arrived with the organization the decade prior out of USC. The linebacker spent the entirety of his career as a Texan while starting all 104 games he was active for. Those games netted 664 tackles, 13.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles, eight interceptions and a touchdown. Cushing, who served suspensions for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, was the 2009 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He’d also be a Pro Bowler and a second-team All-Pro.
2010: Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end, South Florida
Pierre-Paul won Super Bowl XLVI against Tom Brady and Super Bowl LV alongside the quarterback. The South Florida product’s NFL run from the New York Giants to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stretches 153 games and 125 starts in the regular season alone. Pierre-Paul, a three-time Pro Bowler and 2011 first-team All-Pro off the edges, stands with 572 tackles and 89 sacks. There have been 20 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, four interceptions and a trio of touchdowns along the way.
2011: Mike Pouncey, center, Florida
Pouncey retired after the 2020 season alongside his identical twin brother and former Florida Gators blocking mate, Maurkice. He did so having started 114 career games, and having seen PFWA All-Rookie honors turn into four Pro Bowls. Pouncey logged his initial seven NFL years with the Dolphins before being granted his release and signing with the Chargers of Los Angeles in 2018. His past pair of seasons ended in September on injured reserve due to neck and hip injuries.
2012: Bruce Irvin, defensive end, West Virginia
Irvin clocked a 40-time of 4.41 seconds and a three-cone drill of 6.7 seconds at Lucas Oil Stadium. A Seattle Seahawk the Mountaineer would be by the spring of 2012. Irvin was a PFWA All-Rookie pick and earned a Super Bowl XLVIII during his initial years with the Seattle defensive front. He returned in 2020 after tours with the then-Oakland Raiders, Falcons and Panthers, but suffered a torn ACL in the fall. Irvin has totaled 308 tackles, 52 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, three recoveries, three interceptions and two TDs. Across 121 games, he’s been a starter for 92.
2013: Kenny Vaccaro, safety, Texas
The All-American Longhorns safety has started 109 of his 110 NFL games since having his named called by the New Orleans Saints. Vaccaro, on the PFWA All-Rookie roster in 2013, has resided in the Tennessee secondary since 2018. He has posted 610 tackles and 10 interceptions in his career. There have been 11.5 sacks, a touchdown, four forced fumbles and as many recoveries along the way for Vaccaro.
2014: Ryan Shazier, linebacker, Ohio State
In December 2017, Shazier suffered a spinal cord injury against the Cincinnati Bengals. Initially unable to walk, the two-time Pro Bowl Steelers linebacker would undergo spinal stabilization surgery. Shazier spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the team while on the physically unable to perform list. He announced his retirement from football last September, and graduated from Ohio State at the end of 2020. In 46 games for Pittsburgh, Shazier stockpiled 299 tackles, seven sacks, seven forced fumbles and seven interceptions.
2015: Melvin Gordon, running back, Wisconsin
The Patriots called upon Wisconsin’s James White in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. And as seasons changed, his former Badgers backfield teammate eclipsed 2,700 yards from scrimmage on the way to 32 touchdowns as a senior. That’d be Gordon, who has been selected to two Pro Bowls since entering the league with the Chargers. He’s rushed for over 5,000 yards and accounted for 2,000 yards receiving. The 2020 campaign marked Gordon’s first as a Denver Bronco. It gave way to 10 touchdowns and 4.6 yards per carry.
2016: Corey Coleman, wide receiver, Baylor
Two years after becoming a Cleveland Brown, Coleman made a stop by Foxborough as part of the practice squad. The 2015 Biletnikoff Award winner out of Baylor then appeared in eight games for the Giants in 2018. Coleman, who has caught 61 passes for 789 yards and five touchdowns in the NFL, missed the 2019 season due to a torn ACL and spent time on New York’s scout team last year. Now a free agent, Coleman is suspended the first six games of 2021 for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
2017: Malik Hooker, safety, Ohio State
Hooker had his fifth-year option declined by the Indianapolis Colts ahead of the 2020 season, and suffered a torn Achilles during a matchup with the Minnesota Vikings in September. The free safety by way of the Buckeyes has started 35 of his 36 NFL games while tallying 124 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Hooker intercepted seven passes through his initial three of seasons, as well, amassing 146 return yards.
2018: Kolton Miller, offensive tackle, UCLA
With a 10-foot-1 broad jump, Miller set a record at the NFL combine among offensive linemen in 2018. He’d also run the 40 in 4.95 seconds at a listed 6-foot-9 and 309 pounds. From Oakland to Las Vegas, the UCLA Bruin now stands 46 starts into his Raiders career. Miller continued at left tackle in 2020 across from ex-Patriots trade acquisition Trent Brown. Missing two games, he finished having played 82 percent of the offensive snaps.
2019: Dwayne Haskins, quarterback, Ohio State
The Washington Football Team released Haskins in the final month of the 2020 season. The transaction came after his benching, along with violations of Covid-19 protocols, which led to the former Rose Bowl MVP and first-team All-Big Ten selection losing his captainship. Haskins had thrown for 2,804 yards with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions over 13 starts with Washington. The former Ohio State QB signed a futures contract with Pittsburgh in January.
2020: Jerry Jeudy, wide receiver, Alabama
The Patriots crossed paths with the most recent No. 15 overall pick in October. Jeudy was targeted five times during the matchup, and finished his rookie season with the Broncos having been targeted 113 times in all. The 21-year-old wide receiver out of Alabama turned 52 of those targets into completions. Those completions became 856 yards and three trips to the end zone. Jeudy marked the second selection at his position last April, on the heels of Crimson Tide teammate Henry Ruggs to Las Vegas at No. 12.