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NFL Draft

Re-Grading Patriots’ 2018-2020 NFL Drafts

  • The Draft Network
  • July 8, 2021
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I would just like everyone to be aware of this once again because no matter how many times I look it up, it blows my mind. Last season, the New England Patriots finished the year with a record of 7-9. This was the first time the Patriots missed the playoffs since 2008, and was the first time they finished below .500 since 2000, the first year Bill Belichick was their head coach.

Mind-blowing—every time.

Because of stats like that (and much more beyond them) Belichick, to many, is the greatest head coach of all time. But even with that being the case, there have been questions about how he’s drafted during his two decades of calling the shots.

Belichick is one of the very few cases where being the head coach and general manager has actually worked out. Belichick manages the players he has on his roster and manages how to use them. There is no middle man, and thus, no one to get in the way of what he wants to do and how he wants to shape the team. But even though Belichick the head coach is well respected, Belichick the general manager has had plenty of questions aimed in his direction.

Let’s review some of his recent draft history.

2020 Draft Class

Round 2: Kyle Duggar, S

Round 2: Josh Uche, EDGE

Round 3: Anfernee Jennings, EDGE

Round 3: Devin Asiasi, TE

Round 3: Dalton Keene, TE

Round 5: Justin Rohrwasser, K

Round 6: Michael Onwenu, OG

Round 6: Justin Herron, OT

Round 6: Cassh Maluia, LB

Round 7: Dustin Woodard, C

The crown jewel of this class actually comes from the sixth round, as Onwenu had an incredible rookie season as a starting guard for the Patriots. That’s not to say the rest of the group didn’t show promise, they just didn’t burst onto the scene with the same impact. 

Duggar played well for a first-year guy, especially given how unique his role was going into the season. Uche played sparingly but did perform well as a pass rusher when he was out there. The two tight ends didn’t make a big impact and will likely not get much of a chance to remedy that given the Patriots signing both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry in free agency. 

Overall, Onwenu gives them a big win. The rest is still TBD.

Draft Grade: B-

2019 Draft Class

Round 1: N’Keal Harry, WR

Round 2: Joejuan Williams, CB

Round 3: Chase Winovich, EDGE

Round 3: Damien Harris, RB

Round 3: Yodny Cajuste, OT

Round 4: Hjalte Froholdt, OG

Round 4: Jarrett Stidham, QB

Round 5: Bryon Cowart, EDGE

Round 5: Jake Bailey, P

Round 7: Ken Webster, CB

Again, not a super strong class here from the Patriots, especially at the top. Harry’s time in New England has gone so poorly that he’s already asked for a trade. Williams has played, but he played the fourth-most snaps of any cornerback last season. The strength of this class was once again in the middle, as Harris was productive behind a very good Patriots offensive line and Winovich has been productive in a rotational role. But you have to hit at the top, and so far this class was a big swing and a miss.

Draft Grade: D+

2018 Draft Class

Round 1: Isaiah Wynn, OT

Round 1: Sony Michel, RB

Round 2: Duke Dawson, CB

Round 5: Ja'Whaun Bentley, LB

Round 6: Christian Sam, LB

Round 6: Braxton Berrios, WR

Round 7: Danny Etling, QB

Round 7: Keion Crossen, CB

Round 7: Ryan Izzo, TE

Unlike the previous Patriots classes we’ve mentioned, this one was a beauty at the top. When healthy, Wynn has been a fantastic starter for the Patriots. Michel also had some really nice spurts of play outside of his injuries, too. It’s hard to fault general managers for lack of availability with injuries, and both Wynn and Michel had good production when healthy for the Patriots.

However, the rest of the selections did not really make an impact. Most of those players are no longer on the team, and for those that are, they play sparingly. It’s tough to be too hard knowing most of the day-three selections were sixth- and seventh-rounders. Good hits at the top, but not much to write home about after that.

Draft Grade: C-

As you would expect, I didn’t love how Belichick went about drafting his players over the last three years. But it is a good reminder that drifting is hard and that even the best football minds get caught up in the luck of the talent lottery.

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