Bill Belichick has been shopping for the groceries since 2000 in New England. And The Hoodie and his staff have done a great job of building the Patriots into a legendary football dynasty.
So with the 2016 NFL draft approaching, here’s a look at what I think are the six best and six worst draft picks of the Belichick era (2000-2015).
2000 — Tom Brady: This is the classic no-brainer as Brady is the best draft pick in NFL history. He was the Patriots sixth round pick, 199th overall. Here are the six quarterbacks picked before the GOAT: Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger, and Spergon Wynn. Nothing else has to be written or said on this one.
2001 — Richard Seymour: Seymour was the sixth pick in the 2001 draft, the highest Belichick has picked with the Patriots, and he made the most of it. Seymour is a future Hall of Famer. The big tackle played eight years in New England; winning three Super Bowl titles. He was the player opposing teams had to game plan for on the defense.
2009 — Julian Edelman: Edelman, a college quarterback at Kent State, was a seventh round pick, the No. 232 overall. Belichick saw something in Edelman and made him into a slot receiver. Edelman has rewarded Belichick’s faith in him by become one of the best slot receivers in the league, and Tom Brady’s security blanket. Edelman worked his way from part-time receiver, punt and kickoff returner to one of the most indispensable players on the Patriots.
2001 — Matt Light: He was the 48th pick of the 2001 draft and became Tom Brady’s blindside protection for 11 years and three Super Bowl titles. How much did Belichick want Light in the draft? The Patriots were picking at No. 50 in the second round, the New York Jets at No. 49. Belichick heard that the Jets were going to draft Light so he made a trade with the Detroit Lions to move up two sports to No. 48 to draft Light. Great move by the coach and Light proved to be a very good pick.
2006 — Stephen Gostkowski: The Patriots used a fourth round pick, the 188th selection on Gostkowski. Let’s go back in history. Adam Vinatieri, arguably the greatest kicker in NFL history, left New England as a free agent to sign with the Indianapolis Colts. Belichick needed a replacement and rolled the dice on Gostkowski. And wow has that bet paid off. Gostkowski has made over 87 percent of his field goals. Having a great kicker in football is like having a reliable closer in baseball. It gives you peace of mind as a coach.
2010 — Rob Gronkowski: The Gronk was a second round pick, the 42nd player taken in the 2010 draft. There were some very good players taken that year before Gronk, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, and Dez Bryant. But looking at that draft I can say that Rob Gronkowski is the best player to come out of that draft. And to get him in the second round was a steal. He may be the best tight end of all-time and will be a cinch to make the hall of fame if he stays healthy for another couple of years.
2003: Bethel Johnson: Belichick has a poor track record of drafting wide receivers, and Johnson may have been the worst of the lot. He was a second round pick, No. 45 overall. In three seasons with the Patriots, he caught a total of 30 passes. And to make matters worse, Anquan Boldin, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Witten were all picked after Johnson.
2006 — Chad Jackson: Staying with our wide receiver theme, the Patriots actually moved up in the second round in a trade with Green Bay to draft Jackson with the 36th pick. The Packers, using the Patriots pick at No. 52, selected Greg Jennings. Jackson played two years in New England and caught a grand total of 13 passes. Jennings is a two-time Pro Bowler with 574 career catches and 64 touchdowns. Bad move, Bill.
2011 — Ras-I Dowling: The Patriots were desperate for defensive backs and picked Dowling in the second round with the 33rd pick. Dowling played a total of nine games in his two-year Patriots career and was out of the league after the 2014 season.
2009 — Ron Brace: The Patriots drafted the former Boston College nose tackle with the 40th pick of the second round. Brace started seven games in his four-year Patriots career, never making an impact. The Patriots passed on players like Connor Barwin and Jairus Byrd to draft Brace. Sad to hear of the recent passing of Brace. By all accounts from teammates and media members Brace was a true gentleman.
2014 — Jimmy Garoppolo: The Patriots used a second round pick, No. 62 in the draft on Garoppolo. And so far it has been a wasted pick. Garoppolo has thrown a total of 31 passes in two years of mop-up duty. When he was drafted, Brady was coming off a sub-par season and the Patriots thought that Jimmy G. could be the quarterback of the future. But Brady is signed for another four years making TB12 the quarterback of the present and the future. Where that leaves Garoppolo is anyone’s guess.
2010 — Aaron Hernandez: The Patriots thought they pulled a fast one when they drafted Hernandez in the fourth round with the 113th pick. Hernandez had first round talent, but many teams would not touch him because of off field problems at Florida. But Belichick loves value and could not help but draft Hernandez. Now no one could have seen that Hernandez would turn into a serial killer, but there were plenty of red flags that the Patriots ignored. It’s even worse when you realize that Hernandez’s college coach, Urban Meyer, was close to Belichick and should have told his friend not to take a chance on Hernandez.