Let's face it, New England Patriots fans are spoiled, plain and simple. Having hoisted the Lombardi Trophy four times in the last 14 years is nothing to shrug at. It doesn't hurt that they have arguably the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady who always seems to stand calm, cool, and collected in the pocket when the whole country is watching.
We shouldn't forget to mention the guy who seems to always wear a hooded sweatshirt no matter what mother nature brings to the football field, Bill Belichick. Belichick has had his greatest success while serving as head coach of the Patriots compared to his former roles with the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets. Belichick has a knack for getting the most out of his players. Fans shouldn't forget wide receiver Troy Brown lining up at cornerback or drafting a little known quarterback out of Kent State and having him switch to wide receiver in Julian Edelman.
The draft, in any sport, is an inexact science. As a person making decisions that is costing an organization millions of dollars and a lot of jobs at stake, the pressure to land a franchise player can be overwhelming to say the least. How else can you explain a guy like Tom Brady lasting to the 199th overall pick?
Having said all of this, the fact remains that sometimes even a mastermind like Belichick can make mistakes. Below you will find some players that Belichick has missed out on in the past 15 NFL Drafts. In some years, he made the right move by drafting cornerstone players that assisted them in winning Super Bowls. Other years, however, he made some moves that he would like to forget. Please note that in the years 2000, 2009, and 2013 the Patriots did not have a first round pick. It is also necessary to include the years 1999 and 1998 to make the list at 15, even though Belichick was not responsible for those draft picks.
15 1998 - Randy Moss, Alan Faneca
Do I really need to explain this one? Randy Moss will go down as one of the top five receivers to ever play on the gridiron. Moss was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the 21st overall pick in the draft. Moss eventually landed with the Patriots in a 2007 draft day trade with the Oakland Raiders for a 4th round pick in the same draft. Moss eclipsed Jerry Rice's record of most touchdown receptions in a season in 2007 with Tom Brady by catching 23.
Instead of Moss, the Patriots went ahead and drafted Georgia Bulldog running back Robert Edwards with the 18th overall pick. Edwards had a strong rookie season by rushing for 9 touchdowns but flamed out of the NFL in four seasons due to a freak injury in the 1999 Rookie Beach Bowl, when he attempted to make a catch and came down awkwardly on his knee. The injury forced him to cut his career short as he retired in 2002 with the Miami Dolphins.
14 1999 - Antoine Winfield, Mike Peterson
The longtime Minnesota Viking was a reliable and intelligent defender that gave opposing receivers and offensive coordinators headaches. Winfield was drafted by the Buffalo Bills with the 23rd overall pick and finished his career with a total of 27 interceptions. The Patriots also had serious interest in adding Winfield to their secondary in 2013 and were close to signing him. The Patriots went ahead and drafted Damien Woodey, who is now an analyst at ESPN. Woodey was a decent starter for the Patriots and has two Super Bowl rings. However, he did not have the same impact as Winfield on the field.
13 2001 - Richard Seymour
12 2002 - Ed Reed
11 2003 - Troy Polamalu
Similar to Reed, Troy Polamalu was a difference maker at safety for the Steel Curtain. Polamalu was an effective run stopper while also, like Reed, being a ball-hawk. Polamalu was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers out of USC with the 16th overall pick and, like Reed, he's a lock for the Hall of Fame.
10 2004 - Vince Wilfork, Karlos Dansby
With their first pick in this draft, the Pats hit a home run when selecting Vince Wilfork with the 21st overall pick. He was a huge piece of their defence for the last decade and won two Super Bowls with team. So, we won't even begin to question this pick.
9 2005 - Logan Mankins
8 2006 - Nick Mangold
7 2007 - Greg Olsen
Even though the Patriots wound up with a pretty good tight end named Rob Gronkowski (we won't mention the other one), Olsen has had a productive career and has become Cam Newton's favorite target, especially in the red zone. Olsen was drafted by the Chicago Bears out of Miami with the 31st overall pick and has had 42 touchdown receptions so far in his eight season career, but will be sure to add on to those numbers, especially with Kelvin Benjamin sidelined.
6 2008 - Aqib Talib
Even though he was acquired by the Patriots in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the trade deadline in 2012, it would have been nice to have him for a longer period of time and without giving up any resources. Talib has 27 interceptions in his seven years of playing.
5 2010 - Devin McCourty
4 2011 - Muhammad Wilkerson
3 2012 - Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower
2 2014 - Jordan Matthews
Jordan Matthews came onto the scene nicely for the Philadelphia Eagles last year. With Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr., getting most of the attention, Matthews has made a similar impact, but for a much lower price as a second round selection. Then again, when you are Jerry Rice's cousin and you train with him in the offseason, you have to be pretty good, right? Matthews had an impressive rookie season with eight touchdown receptions and 872 receiving yards.
1 2015: Malcom Brown
With none of these players having participated in a meaningful game yet, it is obviously way too early to make a decision. Howver, there is no denying that Malcom Brown was a force at Texas. Brown was named a finalist for both the Bronko Nagurski and Outland Trophies, awards given to the best defensive player and best interior defensive lineman in the country respectively.
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