Monday, April 12, 2021

The Top 10 Patriots Draft Picks of the Past 10 Years


The New England Patriots have had their share of great value picks over the past 10 drafts, including Joe Thuney and James White



UPDATED: APR 8, 2021



Exactly three weeks from now, the first day of the 2021 NFL draft will arrive and the New England Patriots will join every other team in looking for players to help their roster through the seven rounds of the proceedings.

Like every team, the Patriots have had their share of hits and misses over the past 10 years, so we'll rank the 10 best picks from 2011-20.

Before we start, let's clarify that the selections don't necessarily mean the best players but rather the best value for the draft position (because logically first-round picks should produce more than later-round selections).

The one draft that's most represented is the one from 2012 when the Patriots hit on their two first-round picks and found a special teams gem in the later rounds.

So away we go:

1. G Joe Thuney, Round 3, 2016

Thuney was a tackle at North Carolina State and the Patriots landed him in the middle of the third round. While he never has been selected to the Pro Bowl, Thuney was a quality player after immediately being switched to guard and he started every game for the Pats the past five years before leaving this offeason as a free agent.

2. G Shaq Mason, Round 4, 2015

Another hit on an offensive lineman in the middle rounds. Mason arrived from Georgia Tech projected to some draft analysts to play center in the NFL, but he has remained at his college position of guard and done solid work while starting 83 games over the past six seasons.

3. RB James White, Round 4, 2014

Even though he has started only 13 games for the Patriots, White has been a key member of the offense because of his pass-catching ability. And who can forget his Super Bowl-clinching touchdown run in overtime against Atlanta.

4. LB Dont'a Hightower, Round 1, 2012

The Patriots traded up in the first round in 2012 to get Hightower, and they were right in their conviction. He has been a starter since day one, has been selected to the Pro Bowl twice, and had a very good case that maybe he should have been the Super Bowl LIII MVP when the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams.

5. OL Michael Onwenu, Round 6, 2020

Yes, Onwenu has played only one season in the NFL, but starting as a rookie sixth-round pick is impressive enough before you add the fact he played well enough to earn PFWA All-Rookie honors.

6. DE Trey Flowers, Round 4, 2015

Thirty picks before they took Mason, the Patriots landed Flowers, who needed just one year of development to become one of the best pass rushers on the team. Flowers had 21 sacks his final three seasons in New England before he left to join Detroit as a free agent.

7. DE Chandler Jones, Round 1, 2012

Before they traded up for Hightower, the Patriots also traded up to get Jones, and that also worked out very well. Jones made the Pro Bowl in his final season with the Patriots before he went to Arizona, where he blossomed into one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.

8. T Nate Solder, Round 1, 2011

Solder never made the Pro Bowl during his seven seasons in New England, but he also was a very good and durable tackle. He started 15 or 16 games in five of those seasons. Solder was picked 17th overall and it's difficult to complain with what he provided.

9. DB Logan Ryan, Round 3, 2013

Ryan made an immediate impact by getting five interceptions as a part-time starter as a rookie and played about half the snaps on defense his first two seasons before becoming a full-time starter. He had 13 picks in four seasons with the Patriots before leaving as a free agent.

10. DB Nate Ebner, Round 6, 2012

We gave out the last spot to someone who averaged less than two snaps on offense and defense, but was a key member of the special teams during his 111 games with the Patriots. All in all, a good return for a sixth-round pick.

Honorable mention:

T Marcus Cannon, Round 5, 2011; LB Jamie Collins, Round 2, 2013; S Duron Harmon, Round 3, 2013; LB Elandon Roberts, Round 6, 2016; LB Ja'Whaun Bentley, Round 5, 2018

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