The New England Patriots are one of the most storied franchises in the history of the NFL. For the better part of 20 years, New England has been the team to beat and always had a target on their back. However, there are great players scattered throughout the history of the franchise, and creating a Mount Rushmore of Patriots greats is no easy task. However, at the end of the day, these four players stand out as the best of the best.
Note that only players have been included in this exercise. That means that franchise cornerstones like Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft are not eligible for this list.
New England Patriots Mount Rushmore
Duh. The greatest quarterback to ever play the game of football is obviously the most important figure in the history of the New England Patriots. Famously selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Tom Brady transformed from fourth-string quarterback to Super Bowl champion in just under two years. After two decades of dominance, Brady closed out his ridiculous Patriots career as a six-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time MVP, and 14-time Pro Bowler. He owns too many passing records to count and is unquestionably the greatest and most important player in franchise history.
At his best, Rob Gronkowski was the most unstoppable force in the NFL. Too big for safeties and too fast for linebackers, there simply wasn’t a way to stop him when he was at full strength. Gronkowski spent his time in New England tearing up the seam and making plays in the red zone. He was just as good as a blocker and probably could’ve been a solid offensive tackle if he wanted. Throughout the course of his 115 career games, Gronkowski recorded 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and an absurd 76 touchdowns. He ended his New England career on the highest possible note, securing the game-clinching reception in Super Bowl LIII.
While they didn’t have the success of their 21st century counterparts, the 1970’s and 1980’s Patriots had quite a few fantastic players on their roster. However, none were better than superstar guard John Hannah. Widely considered the greatest to ever play the position, Hannah was an absolute monster against both the run and the pass. Hannah spent the entirety of his 13-year career with the Patriots while earning seven First-Team All-Pro selections and nine Pro Bowl nominations. His greatest achievement probably came in 1978, when he led the way for New England’s record-setting rushing attack.
The first three spots on this list are set in stone, with the fourth up for grabs. While several players can make a strong claim for the final spot, the nod ultimately goes to Vince Wilfork. Selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Wilfork immediately stepped in and turned into one of the most unstoppable nose tackles in the league. While he never lit up the stat sheet, Vince Wilfork did the dirty work for the front seven. The big-bodied defensive tackle would routinely take on double teams, holding his ground and freeing up space for others to make plays. He was one of the best pure nose tackles in history and bookended his Patriots career with Super Bowl championships.
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