Patriots

Hindsight 2020: Players Patriots missed in the second round is insane

Hindsight 2020: Players Patriots missed in the second round is insane

J.J. Watt. Luke Kuechly. Anquan Boldin. Osi Umenyiora. Tyrann Mathieu. 

All NFL greats, and all players that perhaps could have been in Foxboro if the Patriots managed second-round picks better. 

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Run down this list: Since Bill Belichick took over, the Patriots have taken 10 good players (by my count) with 25 picks in the second round. 

Leaving alone the two that sadly died early in their careers (Ron Brace and Marquise Hill), that's 10 out of 23. A second-round pick shouldn’t be a 50-50 endeavor, and the Patriots aren’t even hitting that mark, even if their second-best draft pick ever (Rob Gronkowski) was in the second. We should all be able to agree that for as long a list as “things Bill Belichick does better than anyone else” is, “drafting in the second round” is not on there. 

It would be easy to just do an easy "they took ___ instead of _____," but we've got nothing but time these days. Let's also add this to it: What kind of scenario might have existed if they just traded that pick to move up in the first?

I'll run down some of the failed picks like this:

The pick: duh, the number
Who they took: duh, the player
Who'd they pass on? Anyone who went shortly after. Let's say no more than 16 spots (half a round) later
wHaT If tHeY PaCkAgEd iT To mOvE Up iN ThE FiRsT? This is fun. 

Using a draft pick value chart, I'll add this pick to whatever the Pats did in the first round and see who they could have moved up to take instead. If you're wondering why this is written in the Spongebob stylization, it's because it's probably unrealistic for at least a couple of reasons per case. It's more to be met with a softly spoken "damn" than to be taken as gospel. 

That last section will obviously be inexact since some of those picks were the result of trading up or down, but be quiet. This is probably already a nightmare for you to follow, and I fear if I add any more qualifiers. I’ll lose you.
 
Here are some of the wild ones (not in chronological order): 

2011

The second-round pick: No. 33
Who they took: Ras-I Dowling
Who'd they pass on? Kyle Rudolph went 10 picks later
wHaT If tHeY PaCkAgEd iT To mOvE Up iN ThE FiRsT? They could have moved from No. 17 (where they took Nate Solder) all the way up to No. 7 and had freaking J.J. Watt (or Tyron Smith, a better tackle than Solder). 

2012

The second-round pick: No. 48
Who they took: Tavon Wilson
Who'd they pass on? Zach Brown went four picks later.
wHaT If tHeY PaCkAgEd iT To mOvE Up iN ThE FiRsT? They could have moved up to No. 4 and had Luke Kuechly instead of the Chandler Jones/Dont'a Hightower combo, which, in hindsight, is tempting, but not worth it.

2018

The second-round pick: No. 56
Who they took: Duke Dawson
Who'd they pass on? D.J. Chark went four picks later
wHaT If tHeY PaCkAgEd iT To mOvE Up iN ThE FiRsT? If they added No. 56 to the picks they used for Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel, the Patriots could have gotten all the way up to No. 5, where Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey and Minkah Fitzpatrick were all available.

2015

The second-round pick: No. 64
Who they took: Jordan Richards
Who'd they pass on? Tyler Lockett went five picks later
wHaT If tHeY PaCkAgEd iT To mOvE Up iN ThE FiRsT? They could have gone from No. 32 (Malcom Brown) to as high as No. 20 and gotten Byron Jones, who just became the highest-paid cornerback in the league.

2006

The second-round pick: No. 36
Who they took: Chad Jackson
Who'd they pass on? Roman Harper went seven picks later
wHaT If tHeY PaCkAgEd iT To mOvE Up iN ThE FiRsT? They could have moved from No. 21 (Laurence Maroney) to as high as No. 10 and added Haloti Ngata to an already stacked defensive line.

2014

The second-round pick: No. 62
Who they took: Jimmy Garoppolo
Who'd they pass on? Jarvis Landry went with the next pick
wHaT If tHeY PaCkAgEd iT To mOvE Up iN ThE FiRsT? They could have taken Brandin Cooks in the first instead of Dominique Easley. Then they'd have had up to five years of Cooks on his rookie contract instead of just one.

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OTHER NOTABLE MISSES

Bethel Johnson in 2003: Anquan Boldin and Osi Umenyiora went within the next 11 picks,

Aaron Dobson in 2013: Eddie Lacy, Travis Kelce, Larry Warford and Tyrann Mathieu went within the next 10 picks.

Darius Butler in 2009: Jairus Byrd, Connor Barwin and LeSean McCoy went within the next 12 picks

Jermaine Cunningham in 2010: Carlos Dunlap, Sean Lee and Golden Tate went in the next seven picks.  

Terrence Wheatley in 2008: Jamaal Charles went 11 picks later.

Cyrus Jones in 2016: Kevin Byard and Yannick Ngakoue went within the next nine picks.

Joejuan Williams in 2019: This doesn't count as a miss yet, but A.J. Brown and MeCole Hardman went within the next 11 picks. DK Metcalf was also on the board. We'll see what these guys become in the coming years.

THE GOOD NEWS

There is less of a chance they miss on a second-round pick this year because Tom Brady traded their second-round pick for Mohamed Sanu. Then again, Belichick has never been afraid to trade out of the first round, and the team does have two thirds it could use to move up the board.  

Ever Wonder Series: Why does Bill Belichick cut his sleeves?

Ever Wonder Series: Why does Bill Belichick cut his sleeves?

Bill Belichick isn't one to make fashion statements. But he's also a man of reason.

If you've watched any Patriots game in the last 15 years, you've probably wondered why the surly head coach occasionally stalks New England's sideline in a gray hoodie with cut-off sleeves.

When did Belichick start this bizarre tradition? Does he cut the sleeves off himself? And most importantly, what's his reason for doing so?

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Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran has the answers in the first installment of our "Ever Wonder" series.

As Curran tells it, Belichick was seen uncomfortably fiddling with the sleeves on his gray hoodie during the Patriots' Super Bowl XXXIX win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

The following fall, he walked into the Patriots' equipment room, grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting.

When asked why he was ruining a perfectly good sweatshirt, Belichick replied:

"My arms are too short."

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A staffer offered to make the sweatshirt differently, but Belichick insisted it was fine. He'd cut the sleeves off himself, creating his own game-day outfit that was "designed to allow one to work as efficiently as possible toward the singular goal of winning."

The chopped-off sleeves also show zero concern toward fashion, which is probably just the way Belichick likes it. As Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel reported in 2012, Belichick demonstrated his displeasure toward an NFL mandate that required coaches to wear approved Reebok apparel by choosing "the most unstylish outfit" -- a gray hooded sweatshirt -- and chopping the sleeves off.

"It's comfortable," Belichick said at the time. "I carry my stuff in my pouch."

So, Belichick's decision to cut off his sleeves is part pragmatic and part rebellious. But has it worked?

Patriots.com's Mike Dussault and Pats Propaganda's Bob Yoon have charted Belichick's record in every Patriots game by his clothing choice. And the "Hooded One" actually has a better winning percentage (regular and postseason) when he doesn't use scissors.

Record in games coached in cut-off sleeves: 65-24 (73.0 percent)
Record in games coached short- or long-sleeves: 202-68 (74.8 percent)

Most notably, Belichick has lost three Super Bowls while wearing a hoodie with cutoff sleeves (2007, 2011 and 2018), while every Patriots playoff loss from 2005 to 2012 came when he wore a hoodie with cut-off sleeves.

Belichick wore a short-sleeved jacket during the Patriots' Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams, so it sounds like he got the message.

2020 NFL season: Patriots, Bills have almost even odds to win AFC East

2020 NFL season: Patriots, Bills have almost even odds to win AFC East

The 2020 NFL season is still three and a half months away, but for the first time in awhile, there's some real intrigue in the AFC East.

With apologies to the Dolphins and Jets, it's looking like a two-team race. Will the Patriots win an unprecedented 12th straight division title? Or will the Bills finally dethrone New England to win their first AFC East crown in 25 years? 

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The odds have see-sawed in recent weeks. When the schedule was released earlier this months, DraftKings Sportsbook had the Patriots as +125 favorites, with Buffalo close behind at +145, though the Bills are now the betting favorites at +130, with the Patriots at +140.

And now another metric projects the two teams in a near dead heat.

According to ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI), Buffalo is favored to win the division... just barely. FPI gives the Bills have a 41.0 percent to claim the AFC East title, with the Patriots trailing at 40.9 percent.

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How razor-thin is FPI's margin? Both the Patriots and Bills have a 60 percent chance of making the playoffs (in the new expanded playoff field), and both teams are projected with 8.6 wins. 

Despite the projections, the Bills are very confident, with everyone from Jim Kelly to Josh Norman proclaiming the division is Buffalo's for the taking.

Meanwhile, the Bills aren't the only team that's right next to the Patriots in FPI's forecast. There's also the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose quarterback should be slightly familiar to Patriots fans.

FPI gives Tom Brady's new team a slight nod over his old one, as the Bucs have a 63 percent chance to make the postseason. Tampa also has a 3.6 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl — the seventh-best odds in the league — while the Patriots are right behind at 3.0 percent.

According to FPI, the Chiefs have the best odds to win Super Bowl LV at 21 percent, with the Ravens (17 percent), Saints (13 percent), 49ers (12 percent) and Cowboys (5 percent) rounding out the top five.