Next to drafting itself, draft analysis remains one of the most inexact sciences in the sport. Some days your eye test can be Game 6 Jordan, other days watching the kids you were convinced would be lighting it up in the league for a decade makes you feel like you could find a way to screw up a peanut butter and jelly.
Or, as a wise man once said;
“the only thing more spectacular than our success is our failures. Tonight I will show you some of the craziest things we have tried to get away with....and didn’t succeed”
(that man was Dave Chappelle, who somehow found a way in his second season of television to make a whole episode out of sketches that didn’t make his final cut and at the time he was so red-hot it was hilarious anyway. Go figure.)
So that being said, we had some offseason fun a couple years ago detailing the most ridiculous things that’d ever happened to us in fantasy football, and this summer, I asked you all to send me your hottest and coldest draft picks — and as always, boy did everyone deliver.
And since our relationship here at the Pulpit is built on trust, a few of our draft analysts and pod hosts were even gracious enough to supply some of their greatest hits and misses in Patriots draft history. And while your author is neither of those things, in the spirit of the game I’ll throw out one that I nailed, at least in terms of the guy in question landing in New England, and one that aged as well as guacamole the day after the cookout.
Let’s start with the gents from the Pulpit’s own Patriots Nation podcast, and kick it off with a man whose work you all probably became quite familiar with this spring:
HITS: Since I started honing in on my draft expertise two years ago, I’ve projected four picks correctly. (Coming from a total of 15 mock drafts but nevertheless.) I correctly predicted Kyle Dugger, Anfernee Jennings, Cameron McGrone, and most impressively, Justin Herron who’s exact draft slot I projected correctly. (Pic below)
MISSES: I was fully convinced that Jachai Polite was going to become an elite edge rusher for the New York Jets when they drafted him in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Well.... they cut him before he ever played a game and he’s only recorded 1.0 sack in his NFL career. Tough. I once tweeted that Josh Jacobs was the worst running back prospect to ever be drafted in the first round. That’s simply incorrect as the Raiders rusher has recorded back-to-back 1,000+ yard seasons to start his career in Oakland.Finally, the creme del a creme of being dumb, I said I like Mike Mayock’s draft strategy, the he drafted a third round right tackle with the 17th pick. Yoinks.
You never go full Mayock, Keagan.
On the other hand, if you nail a few clutch picks like Dugger and Jennings, that’s braggable, no doubt about it.
Let’s move on to another Pats Pulpit writer and Patriots Nation pod host.
My draft whiff comes from 1998, when I was 14. As a kid, I always loved all the rookies, but every year I would pick one guy to be “My Guy.” That year, I chose Tony Simmons. Haven’t heard of him? That’s ok, he wasn’t here for long, and he didn’t do much. He was a wide receiver from Wisconsin, and, also Wisconsin is known for their power rushing attack, he left the school as the all-time receiving TD leader. He also was a Big Ten champion in the 100m and 200m in track. How could he not work? Well, it turns out you need to be able to catch the ball to be good at WR in the NFL. Tony simply couldn’t do that. Between the NFL and (mostly) the CFL, he actually played until 2007, but he never had any real impact in the league, finishing with only 58 career catches. Fun fact: he was a player/coach all over Europe and Asia, and actually competed in a reality show hosted by John Cena. All in all, a pretty long career in football, just not as an NFL WR like I had hoped all those years ago.
My draft hit actually has a similar story coming out of college. David Givens came out of Notre Dame in 2002, where they were, again, an extremely run happy offense. Givens finished his college career with only 814 yards receiving. He was, it seemed, the longest of long shots to make the team. There was an interesting tidbit that came out recently, that they actually let their pick go by 8 times while Ernie Adams did research to figure out who to draft, and he came up with Givens. Anyway, he finished as a large contributor for the Patriots in their back to back Super Bowl championship seasons, and was the Patriots all time leader in playoff TD’s until Gronk broke his record in 2015. He would finish his career with a TD in 7 straight playoff games, the 2nd longest streak of all time. Unfortunately, after signing a sizable contract in Tennessee in 2006, Givens tore his knee up that season, and would never play in the NFL again.
A throwback to the OG Dynasty is always welcome in this space.
Next up, we have the Pulpit’s analyst Michael McDermott, who on this very blog predicted that the Patriots would end up with DB Cyrus Jones and WR Malcolm Mitchell, even if the draft spots they’d be taken at were a scootch off.
Receipts can be found here:
Acquired 3rd Round Pick: WR, RB, or CB
Strategy: Draft Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell
The 3rd round is the sweet spot for the Patriots to pick up a WR. Three names I like in this range are Malcolm Mitchell, Rashard Higgins, and Mike Thomas. Of the three, I think Thomas has the most upside with his great athleticism whereas Mitchell has the highest floor coming out of a Pro-Style offense at Georgia. The receiver I’m choosing here is Malcolm Mitchell because I think he can also contribute on Special Teams in addition to being the 4th/5th WR on the team.
Mitchell would be on the depth chart as an X WR despite his 6’0” listing. The Patriots have depth at the position, although I suspect not many people would be wanting the X WR position in the hands of Aaron Dobson and Chris Hogan. Mitchell has a 6’3” wingspan, offers solid route running skills, and plays bigger than his size. Plus he can play CB in case of a disastrous run of injuries.
Pick 96: RB or CB
Strategy: Draft Alabama CB Cyrus Jones
The Patriots have Logan Ryan set to become an unrestricted free agent while Malcolm Butler will be a restricted free agent. The Patriots should put a first round tender on Butler in order to keep their AFC Rivals from poaching Butler after the 2016 season, so one spot is solved. Logan Ryan is a solid CB in the right scheme, but isn’t a player worth breaking the bank for. I’m not sure if Justin Coleman or Darryl Roberts would replace him as a boundary CB, but the Patriots should try to add depth at the position. I think there is room for another CB on the potential 53-man roster, although having it full of players that don’t have a lot of experience is unnerving.
Jones can contribute immediately as a returner and can play inside and outside, which is critical when it comes to depth. Size is somewhat a concern at 5’10” and Alabama doesn’t face a lot of prolific passing attacks, but Jones ran 4.49 in addition to a 6.71 3-cone to ease some concerns about having NFL speed. Jones is capable of playing press and is strong in run support both on the boundary and in the slot. The Patriots would like him for his ability to play all four downs.
Obviously one of those gentlemen worked out far better than the other in New England, for various reasons, but nailing both picks is impressive nonetheless.
Michael also predicted the Patriots taking an offensive tackle at pick 60 in the 2016 draft, and then the Patriots ended up taking a prospect that ended up being pretty good at pick 78: North Carolina State’s Joe Thuney, who obviously now has a couple Super Bowl rings, made 2nd-team All-Pro in 2019, and is now one of the richest offensive linemen in football, despite playing on the interior of the line.
And now, for the purpose of integrity (in the actual sense of the word, not the Roger Goodell sense), here is my only hit and one of my most freezing-cold takes:
Hit: Right before I joined the Pulpit, I was one of a couple Patriots writers at Chowder & Champions and we did our weekly pod on draft week 2015. Unfortunately the pod doesn’t appear to exist on the Internet anymore, but due to my personal affinity for trench guys and the departure of the legendary Vince Wilfork, when the question was posed “if there’s one guy you want for the Patriots at pick 32, who is it?”, my emphatic answer was “If somehow Malcom Brown from Texas slips all the way to 32, I don’t see how the Patriots don’t jump on him”.
As it turns out, Malcom was a useful, if not spectacular 2-down defensive tackle that ended his Patriots career with 2 rings and has bounced from the Saints to the Jaguars since. Nonetheless!
Now let’s get to a rough one:
Miss: After the Patriots struck gold in 2008 with First-Team All-SEC linebacker Jerod Mayo, when the Patriots turned in the card at Pick 62 in the 2010 draft for a 3-time First-Team All-SEC linebacker in Florida’s violent-hitting Brandon Spikes, I believe my exact words were “this is it, this is our inside linebacker duo for the next decade. They’re both smart and they can both hit like Mortal Kombat. What else could you want?”
Well, as it turns out, you could want a linebacker who didn’t get suspended, get dumb penalties just like he did in college, and refer to his tenure in New England as literal slavery, but hey, like Alanis Morissette said, you live, you learn.
Now let’s get to the reader submissions. To the Twitter-machine!
Sergio Kindle drops to the Pats in the 2nd round, and they instead pick a TE with a bad back....— SweatyVedder (@SoxDaddy) May 28, 2021
Respect for owning that L, SweatyVedder. Fun fact: on the Wikipedia page for Sergio Kindle, the last paragraph details which automotive dealerships he’s working at now. I kid you not.
I wanted N’Keal Harry in the 2nd round so bad! Was excited to get him but we know how it’s going so far.— Dwayne Pogue (@Prostarr27) May 28, 2021
I was absolutely right about Chandler Jones. Was worried he wouldn’t drop far enough and we went up and got him.
While it’s been pretty well-established that Bill Belichick frequently trades up as well as trading down, it wasn’t out of the question at the time that Syracuse DE Chandler Jones would be far too rich for the Patriots’ blood as a coveted first-round edge prospect, given that the Patriots’ original pick in that draft was 27th. And while Chandler has arguably had a more decorated career following his trade to the Arizona Cardinals in 2016, it’s really a matter of how you prefer your awards; Jones won a Super Bowl in 2014, but he’s racked up the stats at a furious pace since then, made 2 more Pro Bowls, led the NFL in sacks in 2017, and could very well end up in the NFL’s top 20 in sacks by the time his career is all said and done.
Good on you for nailing that one.
Hightower and Jones. Was so excited about them, and when they played the Titans the Jones strip sack into the Hightower scoop and score.... man I was on a different planet.— Chase (@ChaseHopkins_) May 28, 2021
You guys want to watch that play again? I sure do! Let’s go!
The YouTube title is both perfectly accurate and totally undersells it:
Devin McCourty. Was so pumped when we drafted him @McCourtyTwins Best 1st round pick in the BB era— Howard Stephens (@HowardStephens1) May 28, 2021
Bold claim, but....is it really? DMac’s accolades need no introduction, and his status as a leader is as unquestionable as Breaking Bad, and having said that, if you had him pegged as an all-timer, or even an All-Pro at 1 position, never mind 2 secondary spots, then you’re a savvier football mind than most.
Tweeted this before, but.......... ♂️ pic.twitter.com/OAYfTqQOt5— Johnners (@scrumasterflash) May 29, 2021
....questionable but for this exercise we’ll count it since it happened!
And now, let’s move on to a few emails. To be honest a couple of these strained credulity, but since fair is fair and we’re taking people at their word here, let’s roll.
(to protect the innocent, you’re referred to here by first name only)
Terry Glenn....He was the next everything for me. Then he just broke my heart. I remember I called in to weei. Ranted and raving that he was the pick and the next coming of the best wide receiver ever!
Ty Law was probably the only other one that was a for sure pick for me. He could not have turned out any better.
Oh Drew Bledsoe! Thought it might be Mirer, glad it wasn’t. Loved me some Drew! He made the 90s enjoyable.
Whatever your opinion of Drew Bledsoe was/is and how much credit you think is due for nailing a consensus top pick, history has certainly proven the Bledsoe/Mirer take to be correct; Bledsoe went on to lead the NFL in passing yards in 1994, make 4 Pro Bowls, and play a key role in the 2001 Super Bowl run, while Notre Dame QB Rick Mirer went at #2 overall in the same draft and ended up playing for what feels like a baker’s dozen of NFL teams and — fun fact, never played in a postseason game.
Hello mr. Rewinski,
my name is Francesco and i’m from Italy. I am a young football coach, i coach offensive line here in Torino, northern part of Italy.
I have a website/blog about the Patriots called “Patriot Reign” which is active since 2015.
I found out i have quite a knack in predicting the latest Pats drafts, and i’m here to share some of my most accurate predictions.
In this year’s draft, i predicted that the Pats would select running back Rhamondre Stevenson at pick n.122, whom they picked at 120 (pretty accurate uh?), you can check my mock here :
On my 2020 mock, which i did live on youtube, i predicted TE Dalton Keene in the fourth round, you can watch it here (41.40)
In 2017 i predicted a late rounder spent on Braxton Berrios (i get it, this was an easy one)
last but not least, in 2016 i predicted that the Pats will get Ted Karras and Vincent Valentine
I hope you’ll find my contribution worthy and i thank you sincerely for giving time to read my mail.
look forward to read your feats on Pats Pulpit, keep up the good work.
Hey, the links are all there, you can check the receipts if you’d like. Also, always great to hear from our international readers!
Since you asked, and since I am pretty sure you won’t believe me, I’ll tell you. The Patriots draft pick that I absolutely nailed was Tom Brady. Except that I didn’t predict that the Patriots would take him.
I live in Arlington, Virginia and was at that time a diehard Redskins fan. The Redskins were desperately searching for their quarterback of the future at that time. So I watched as many college quarterbacks as I could on tv that year. And I concluded that the best QB was Tom Brady of Michigan. I knew that the draft experts did not think Brady had a strong enough arm, and were not in general very enthused about him, but I was sure that the Redskins would see the same things in him that I did, and that they would take him in maybe the third or fourth round.
I became a Patriots fan about ten years ago, when a relative of mine (who shall remain nameless) became a starter on the team.
Here is what I saw in Brady that convinced me he was the best. First of all, he always moved the ball when he was in there. The team got first downs and moved forward; very few three-and-outs.
Second, he put two very good Michigan QBs on the bench. Chuck Dreisbach was I believe a year ahead of Brady and highly-touted. Once Brian Griese left, Brady got the QB job ahead of Dreisbach. Then the even more highly touted Drew Henson, a Sports Illustrated cover-boy, came to Michigan. Coach Lloyd Carr kept sending Henson into the game to give him a chance, but Brady kept out-performing him and sending Henson back to the bench.
Third, Brady led Michigan to a 20-5 record as a junior and senior, including two Big Ten titles, shared with Ohio State in 1998 and outright in 1999. He also won two bowl games, including a come-from-behind win over Alabama in overtime. In other words, no matter whether his arm was strong or weak, he showed he was a winner.
So I was convinced that Brady was the best QB available that year. I’m sure you don’t believe me, but I swear this is all true. After Brady wasn’t picked in the first three rounds, I was sure he would go in the fourth round, and hurried home to be in front of the tv when round four began. You know the rest.
I am 82 years old, and started my career as a draft nerd in 1956. I can tell you who the first overall pick was that year (without looking it up), and I can also guarantee that you have never heard of him.
Truthfully John, there’s enough detail in this story that I’m more inclined to believe it than not. If you can reference draft picks from before my dad was born, that’s good enough to establish your scene cred.
And one more old schooler, for the road:
Matt, responding to your invitation. Not sure how many of these you may get, but if my dad was still with us he’d back me up.
Background: My wife did a post-doc at UMich in the late 80’s and I got hooked on Wolverines football and basketball. In 1999 she returned to Ann Arbor permanently while I maintained Boston as my base, a weekend commuter to Ann Arbor.
When the Patriots drafted Tom Brady in 2000, I told anyone who’d listen to me in Boston that this was a steal. I predicted he would supplant Drew Bledsoe in two years. I backed it up with observations like: this kid knows how to win; don’t be fooled - he got screwed by Lloyd Carr on PT, because Lloyd favored the “Michigan Man” Drew Henson over the California golden boy; Henson was flashy with a powerful arm that fans loved - oohs and aahs - all Brady did was lead UM to victories against high quality opponents (see Alabama 1/1/80); he takes care of the ball, works through progressions quickly and finds the open receiver (all in contrast with Bledsoe); he’s calm under pressure; BB’s gonna love him; Bledsoe’s got 2 more years!
OK, I was off on the 2 years, but did not factor in Mo Lewis. I was 99% convinced he’d be superior to the incumbent QB1, with whom I was a tad disenchanted. Of course, I never envisioned the level of achievement we’ve witnessed, but had I known about the Avocado Ice Cream...
Who could’ve seen avocado ice cream coming, never mind Mo Lewis?!
Got any blast-from-the-past draft takes that either aged like a fine wine or a fine cheese? Drop them in the comments below. Hopefully this was as fun for everyone as it was for me hearing them all.