Top of Patriots’ 2019 draft class collapses

·3 min read

The year 2019 started as a good one for the Patriots, with their sixth Super Bowl championship. It went downhill from there, culminating in a one-and-done playoff appearance and Tom Brady‘s exit after 20 seasons.

Along the way, the Patriots had a draft to forget.

Mike Reiss of ESPN.com looks at the team’s collection of selections in the aftermath of the trade that sent receiver N'Keal Harry to the Bears for a measly seventh-round pick in 2024.

The Patriots already have moved on from two of their two three picks in 2019, with third-round linebacker Chase Winovich previously traded to the Browns. Reiss also notes that second-round defensive back Joejuan Williams will be a long shot to make the team in 2022.

Even with Williams still on the roster, the Patriots (per Reiss) are just one of four teams to no longer have two of their top three picks from 2019 on the team. The others are the Broncos, Panthers, and Ravens. And the Broncos are only on that list because they sent two of those two three picks (tight end Noah Fant and quarterback Drew Lock) to the Seahawks as part of the Russell Wilson trade.

Reiss also explores the potential reasons for the struggles, from giving too much credit to personal connections with coaches to giving too much credence to pre-draft interview. And while it also would be easy to pin blame for the bad draft on former V.P. of player personnel Nick Caserio (now the Texans’ G.M.), Belichick has run the show since the moment he arrived in 2000.

Reiss also notes that trading down from No. 64 and No. 73 and landing at No. 77 kept them from getting potentially ideal prospect Terry McLaurin at No. 76. Of course, the Patriots would have had McLaurin or DK Metcalf or A.J. Brown or Deebo Samuel with the 32nd over pick, which became N’Keal Harry. But are we sure those players would have have become the players they are in New England?

It’s easy to blame the issues on a failure to draft the right player. It’s fair to wonder whether there’s an issue with developing the players they have. Is coach Bill Belichick sufficiently patient with young receivers who aren’t making the immediate transition to the NFL? Does he tend to run wet-behind-the-ears wideouts off the field if they, for example, fail to line up in the right spot or otherwise display appropriate mastery of the offense?

Then again, receiver Jakobi Meyers was undrafted in 2019. So it’s not impossible for certain guys to figure it out. But undrafted guys have nowhere to go but up. For the receivers taken high in the draft by the Patriots under Belichick, they’ve had nowhere to go but down. And most of them have.

Top of Patriots’ 2019 draft class collapses originally appeared on Pro Football Talk