After not having a pick until the third round of the 2017 draft, the New England Patriots find themselves flush with picks. Thanks to the trade for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the Patriots have two second-round picks in the 2018 draft. However, the second round has been a mixed bag for New England in recent years. We’ve already analyzed the Patriots recent first round picks. Now, lets take a look back on the second round Patriots draft history.
Hits and Misses: New England Patriots Recent Second Round History
2017: No Pick; Acquired Kony Ealy and a third-round pick from Carolina Panthers
In essence, the Patriots gave away their second round pick for a third-round pick. The Patriots needed help on the edge and figured that it would be wiser to drop eight spots in the draft to get Ealy instead of hoping for a second round rookie to save the day.
Things didn’t go as planned. Ealy wasn’t the fit the Patriots were hoping for, and the one-time Super Bowl star couldn’t make the Week One roster. It would be one thing if he were going up against a lot of talent, but he really wasn’t. Outside of Trey Flowers, the Patriots were dangerously thin at defensive end all season long, and Ealy still couldn’t beat out the depth players. While it was only an eight-pick fall, there’s no doubt the Patriots would like a do-over here.
2016: Cyrus Jones, 60th Overall
Bad things tend to happen when Bill Belichick drafts a defensive back in the second round, and Jones was no exception. As a late second-round pick, Jones was viewed as a good, but not great, defensive corner with great abilities in the return game. Essentially, he was viewed as Belichick’s dream number two corner.
There’s still time for Jones to turn his career around, but things have not gone that way so far. Jones saw the field sparingly in his rookie season, and things rarely went well for him. Defensively, he didn’t show an ability to consistently hand with the larger and faster NFL receivers. He was a liability in coverage, and opposing quarterbacks often picked on him. He didn’t have the best control of his emotions, as evidenced by him being ejected from 2016’s Week Five matchup against the Cleveland Browns for throwing punches after the play.
While his defensive performance left a lot to be desired, his work in the return game was an absolute nightmare. Jones returned just 11 punts and eight kicks in 2016 and somehow managed to fumble five different times. The fastest way into Belichick’s doghouse is poor ball security, and Jones consistently failed to take care of the football. Sometimes, his fumbles singlehandedly got the opposing team back in the game, like in Week 14’s matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Future of Cyrus Jones
It was a rookie year to forget for Jones, and things would only get worse. Jones came into the 2017 preseason looking to prove that his rookie year was a bad fluke. Once more, things didn’t go the way Jones wanted. After two inconsistent performances, Jones appeared to be on the chopping block and was in danger of missing the team altogether. Jones’ season would then end before it ever began, as he suffered an ACL injury that would cost him the season. There’s still time for him to turn his career around, but so far it’s been nothing but bad for the former second rounder.
2015: Jordan Richards, 64th Overall
Every few years Belichick has a player that he falls in love with, despite all outside evidence suggesting he can’t play. In 2015, it was the decision to play linebacker Jonathan Freeney over Jerod Mayo. Recently, that player has been Jordan Richards.
After being projected as a seventh-round pick or a priority undrafted free agent, the Patriots drafted Richards with their second-round pick in 2015. Since joining the team, Richards has been a replacement-level special teamer and an absolutely horrific defender.
Coming into the draft, Richards projected to be too slow, too small, and too poor a tackler to play safety at the NFL level. Those projections were correct. When playing against the run, Richards can typically be found being eaten alive by a lineman as the play goes directly at him. In passing situations, Richards is too slow to stick with running backs and too small to stick with tight ends. Even when Richards is in front of the play, he’s a terrible tackler. He struggles to wrap up anybody, as shiftier players can juke past him and larger players can plow right over him.
In summary, this one was a wasted pick. Richards has become an adequate special teamer, and nothing else. Average special teams players typically are athletic, undrafted players. This pick was a huge, unjustified reach.
2014: Jimmy Garoppolo, 62nd Overall
While Belichick’s recent second-round decisions have been questionable, this one was right on the money. Knowing Brady can’t play forever, Belichick drafted his heir apparent in Garoppolo. This pick signaled that the Patriots were beginning to look at what lied beyond Brady.
Brady continued to get better and better, never letting Jimmy G get anywhere near the field. Brady won a Super Bowl in Jimmy G’s rookie season and continued to never give Jimmy G a chance to steal his job. Garoppolo was called on for the first two games of 2016 as Brady served a four-game suspension, and he played great.
In his six quarters as the Patriots starter, Garoppolo went 2-0, throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions. Garoppolo went down with a shoulder injury in his second start, but it looked as though the Patriots had another franchise quarterback waiting in the wings.
The only downside to Jimmy G’s Patriots tenure is how it ended. With Brady still playing his best football, the Patriots realized there was no way to keep both players. They made the correct move of keeping Brady but sold Garoppolo for pennies on the dollar to the San Francisco 49ers. The Patriots only got a second round pick for him, and it’s hard to believe that they couldn’t have received more had they sold at a different time.
2013: Jamie Collins, 52nd Overall
Jamie Collins is yet another great second-round pick by the Patriots organization. Coming out of the draft, Collins was viewed as a raw, highly athletic linebacker who had yet to put it all together. After spending the majority of his rookie season coming off the bench, he put it all together in his playoff debut against the Indianapolis Colts.
Collins recorded one sack, an interception, and six tackles in his playoff debut. His stat line was impressive, but he also played strong coverage against tight ends and running backs. This breakout performance would turn out to be the norm during his run with the Patriots.
For the next two and a half seasons, Collins’ freak athleticism would be on constant display. He was an absolute monster blitzing the A-gap, was great against the run, and could hold his own in coverage. Like Garoppolo, Collins was a great second round pick. However, just like Garoppolo, the Patriots didn’t maximize what they could have gotten for him.
Collins was dealt to the Browns at the 2016 trade deadline for a third-round pick. He was on the last year of his contract, and wasn’t going to be re-signed due to his high value and because he freelanced on defense. The decision to trade him made perfect sense, but the low value didn’t. Had the Patriots held onto Collins, they likely would have received a third-round compensatory pick, or a fourth at the worst. It’s hard to argue that the trade made the 2016 Patriots a better team, but they still won the Super Bowl, so it’s hard to stay mad at the decision.
2013: Aaron Dobson, 59th Overall
The Patriots had two second round picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. With pick number 52, the Patriots knocked it out of the park. With pick number 59, they drafted receiver Aaron Dobson out of Marshall. That one didn’t go as well.
Dobson’s rookie year was actually pretty productive. Drops were an issue, but Dobson was able to consistently generate separation. Because of this, he soon became one of Brady’s most trusted targets throughout 2013. Dobson’s best game came against the Pittsburgh Steelers when he hauled in five receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Dobson finished his season with 37 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns, numbers that were all-around the best any rookie receiver had produced with Brady.
Unfortunately, injuries ended up taking their toll on the promising rookie. Dobson suffered a foot injury midway through 2013. He would try to play through it, but he would ultimately need off-season surgery to fix it.
His 2014 season was over before it really started, as he clearly was still slowed by the foot injury. He would only record three receptions all season before a hamstring injury ended his season again. Unfortunately for Dobson, 2015 was more of the same. The wide receiver suffered an ankle injury in Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills placing him on the injured reserve.
He wouldn’t survive the 2016 preseason, as it was obvious injuries had taken away whatever had made Dobson show so much promise in 2013. The Detroit Lions and the Arizona Cardinals took a chance on him, but he couldn’t stick at either place. Ultimately, this wasn’t a good pick for the Patriots, but it’s hard to throw blame on them. Injuries happen in the NFL and robbed what could have been a really great career for Dobson.
Last Word on the Second Round
The second round has featured some of the Patriots best and worst players of the last five years. For every Jamie Collins, there’s a Jordan Richards just around the corner. With the Patriots holding two second rounders, it will be fascinating to see what happens to the careers of the players drafted. History shows there’s no telling how good, or bad, they could be.