The Patriots have done a solid job over the past three years, but the majority of the players they selected have served in a backup capacity.Three-year breakdown
How the Patriots have done in the draft since 2008:
Total picks: 32
2010 Starters: 7
2010 Backups: 13
Other teams: 8
Out of NFL: 2
Injured Reserve/PUP: 2
The clear priority has been to revamp the defense, and they have had some success in that category, but some early-round busts and late-round flameouts have left this mission somewhat incomplete.
Best pick: Linebacker Jerod Mayo, 2008 (first round, 10th overall): Mayo is a stud and an elite run-stopper in a division where the Patriots have a lot of tough running backs to face on a yearly basis. Mayo has not developed into a big-time playmaker yet, but he's been a great fit in coach Bill Belichick's 3-4 defense and should get better as the years go on.
Worst pick: Linebacker Shawn Crable, 2008 (third round, 78th overall): No one really knows what the plan was for Crable, but he entered the draft that year as a physical marvel and wound with injuries that ultimately spoiled his first two seasons. Crable's inability to stay on the field hurt his potential as a pass-rushing threat, and the Patriots still haven't filled that void up front.
2010 DRAFT PICKS
1 (27) Devin McCourty, CB: McCourty started slow, but developed into a tremendous ballhawk with a team-high seven interceptions.
2 (42) Rob Gronkowski, TE: His presence helped Tom Brady reestablish himself as the best in the league and gave the Patriots a legitimate red-zone threat with 10 touchdowns.
2 (53) Jermaine Cunningham, LB: The Patriots converted him into an outside linebacker and he turned into a serviceable pass-rushing threat, though there's still work to be done.
2 (62) Brandon Spikes, ILB: His rookie season was plagued by off-field issues, including a suspension at the end of the season for using a banned substance, but he has upside.
3 (90) Taylor Price, WR: Price spent the entire season inactive until playing in the regular-season finale against Miami.
4 (113) Aaron Hernandez, TE: With Gronkowski, he helped Brady trust more in his tight ends and finished a solid season as a legit draft-day steal with six touchdowns.
5 (150) Zoltan Mesko, P: He filled a legit need for the Patriots and did a nice job, averaging 43.2 yards per punt with 19 of them downed inside the 20-yard line.
6 (205) Ted Larsen, OL: Signed a four-year deal during the offseason, but then was cut at the end of camp and wound up in Tampa Bay.
7 (208) Thomas Welch, OL: Like Larsen, he also signed a deal, got cut at the end of camp and then wound up in Minnesota on the Vikings' practice squad.
7 (247) Brandon Deaderick, DE: Other than a mysterious suspension during the bye week, had an above average season as a reserve lineman with occasional starts -- four total.
7 (248) Kade Weston, DT: Weston wound up on injured reserve in August after signing a four-year deal, so he'll be competing in training camp next season.
7 (250) Zac Robinson, QB: The Patriots waived him in September and he wound up in Seattle for part of the year before ending up with the Lions.
1. Outside linebacker: New England's rotation at outside linebacker last fall included Tully Banta-Cain, journeyman Rob Ninkovich and raw second-round pick Jermaine Cunningham. It wasn't a productive group. The depth chart needs an injection of top-end talent on the edge of the 3-4.
2. Offensive line: With Logan Mankins (franchise player), Matt Light (free agent) and Nick Kaczur (back surgery that cost him all of 2010) having uncertain futures, and Stephen Neal having retired, the Patriots need to add young talent to the line.
3. Wide receiver: As much as Tom Brady spread the ball around to his slot options and tight ends last season, he lacks a reliable force to stretch the field. Deion Branch and Wes Welker (on the last year of his contract) aren't getting any younger, bigger or faster. A developmental No. 1 receiver would be a nice addition.
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: OG Logan Mankins.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: None.
--DT Marcus Stroud: FA Bills; $3.46M/2 yrs, $150,000 SB/$200,000 RB.
--OG Stephen Neal (retired).
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