The New England Patriots have a reputation for having trouble draft receivers. That's well-earned, to an extent. Since 2009, the Patriots have only drafted one receiver that has panned out long-term, Julian Edelman. Other picks have either failed to live up to expectations or haven't worked out at the NFL level.
However, there is a surprising stat about the Patriots and drafting receivers that may help to explains why so few of the team's draft picks at the position have panned out.
According to NFL Research, in 19 drafts with the Patriots, Bill Belichick has never selected a receiver in the first round. And of the 1,000-yard receivers that Belichick has had during his tenure, they have come only via late-round picks or by trades.
With top prospects A.J. Brown & Deebo Samuel visiting NE, are the @Patriots eyeing WR early in the #NFLDraft?— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) April 12, 2019
Well, in 19 drafts with the team, Bill Belichick has never taken a WR in the 1st round.
And all the Pats 1,000-yd WRs since 2000 have come by trade or late-rd pick. pic.twitter.com/eLA2KxdmfP
Of course, the caveat here is that Brandin Cooks was acquired in exchange for a first-round pick, so technically speaking, that is using a first-round pick on a receiver. Still, Cooks was a well-established veteran player, so trading a first-round pick for that type of a player is different than drafting an unknown commodity.
That said, it's clear that the Patriots' draft strategy doesn't value receivers that heavily. They tend to settle on mid-to-late-round guys to develop in hopes of making them quality playmakers. They either do that or acquire proven veterans. This makes sense given how hard it is to land quality receivers in the draft.
It will be interesting to see if the Patriots change their draft strategy this year, given their needs for offensive weaponry. They have been scouting receivers and tight ends heavily ahead of the draft, so perhaps they will consider breaking their trend and targeting a new player for Tom Brady to throw to.
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