Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports

Bill Belichick's recent horrendous drafts don't get enough blame for Patriots' performance this season

Alex Reimer
December 18, 2018 - 3:21 pm

Much of the blame for the Patriots’ recent woes falls on their old stalwarts who have failed to perform up to their accustomed levels of excellence this season. Tom Brady has struggled in the red zone and on third down, ranking 18th among QBs in red zone passer-rating and 19th in third down conversion rate, respectively. Rob Gronkowski has been held to four catches or fewer in eight games and Julian Edelman is second in the league in drops. The Patriots look like an old prize-fighter trying to muster the strength for one last bout of glory. 

Some of that is inevitable, especially when it comes to their so-called “Planet Players.” Brady is 41 years old; Gronkowski has undergone nine surgeries in his professional career; Edelman is coming off a torn ACL. But making matters worse is the fact they’ve been left with few reinforcements. Bill Belichick’s horrendous recent drafts are a big reason why. 

Throughout the Belichick era, the Patriots have prided themselves on boasting deep rosters. That’s not the case this season. Outside of undrafted cornerback J.C. Jackson, who locked down JuJu Smith-Schuster on Sunday, the Patriots haven’t received many contributions from inexperienced players on their roster. The most impactful players they’ve drafted over the last five years are James White and Trey Flowers, both of whom were selected in the fourth-round.

This talent shortage is especially apparent on defense, where slugs like Elandon Roberts are playing regularly. When looking at the top of the Patriots’ drafts over the last five years, it’s easy to spot the genesis for this deficiency. 

No. 23: Isaiah Wynn OT (Placed on injured reserve with torn Achilles.)
No. 31: Sony Michel RB (The Patriots’ offense was at its best in Weeks 4-6, when Michel averaged 105.3 yards per game. During that stretch, New England scored at least 38 points in all three victories. But overall this season, Michel has been average. He’s played 11 games and totaled 765 yards, good for 19th among running backs.)
No. 56: Duke Dawson CB (Activated from injured reserve, but hasn’t played this season.)

No. 83: Derek Rivers DE (Played five games and was last active on Week 9.)
No. 85: Antonio Garcia OT (Garcia hasn’t played one game with the Patriots yet.)

No. 60: Cyrus Jones CB (Released twice this season. First at the end of training camp, and then again on Oct. 6)
No. 78: Joe Thuney OT (Thuney has started every game this season. I am far from an expert on offensive line play, but he seems to be their best pick over the last three years.)
No. 91: Jacoby Brissett QB (Traded to the Colts last season for Philip Dorsett, who can’t find the field anymore.)
No. 96: Vincent Valentine DT (Patriots released Valentine Sept. 1. He now plays in Arizona, where he’s appeared in one contest.)

No. 32: Malcolm Brown DT (Recorded 8.5 sacks during his Patriots’ career so far. But has struggled against the run this season. The Patriots are allowing 4.99 yards per carry this season, which is their worst ever total under Bill Belichick.)
No. 64: Jordan Richards S (Traded to Falcons at end of training camp.)
No. 97: Geneo Grissom DE (Appeared in four games this season.)

No. 31: Dominique Easley DT (Patriots released Easley in April 2016.)
No. 62 Jimmy Garoppolo QB (No idea what happened to him.)

With misses at the top of drafts like that, it’s impressive the nine-win Patriots are even this good, to be honest. 


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