The New England Patriots are in a weird spot thanks to an interesting draft record.
The New England Patriots missed the playoffs for the second time in three years. Tom Brady left in the 2020 offseason, and they haven’t looked the same since. Their dominance of the AFC East is now sorely in the hands of the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots are likely even behind the Miami Dolphins, who also made the playoffs despite losing their quarterback to a bout with concussions.
There is talent on this team. The Patriots have been known throughout its dynasty as a team that finds great players late in the draft. The team hasn’t been nearly as good in recent years, but they are still finding those diamonds in the rough.
How many times did the Patriots hit on draft night? Let’s take a look at the last five years.
Grading the Patriots’ 2018 NFL Draft
Grading Patriots 2018 first-round pick: T Isaiah Wynn – C-
Ah, the 2018 NFL Draft. The Patriots went into it with two first-round picks, and they wanted to put together enough for one more run with Brady. They started with his protection. Isaiah Wynn was supposed to jump into a starting tackle position immediately. Last season, Wynn was a total disaster. All rankings had him as one of the worst tackles in the league last season. Now, the Patriots will likely let him walk in free agency this offseason.
Grading Patriots 2018 first-round pick: RB Sony Michel – F
Sony Michel was one of the worst draft picks of the Bill Belichick era. The Georgia running back came into the NFL with a high pedigree, but he wasn’t expected to go so high. What makes it hurt is that former NFL MVP and possibly great Brady succession plan Lamar Jackson went with the next pick. Four picks later, the Browns took Michel’s teammate Nick Chubb. He’s still one of the best running backs in the league.
Grading Patriots 2018 second-round pick: CB Duke Dawson – F
The Patriots took cornerback Duke Dawson with the 56th-overall pick. He never played a game with the team. He went on injured reserve before his rookie season started. When he returned from IR, he still didn’t make an appearance. The next training camp, he was traded with a seventh-round pick to the Denver Broncos for a sixth-round pick. That’s insanely terrible value. The next cornerback off the board was Carlton Davis. Big whoops.
Grading Patriots 2018 fifth-round pick: LB Ja’Whaun Bentley – B+
Finally, a decent pick for the Patriots in what is a disaster class of a draft. Ja’Whaun Bentley is coming off his best season with the Patriots, compiling 125 tackles, three sacks, and forcing two turnovers this past season. The Patriots got themselves a starter for the foreseeable future in Bentley. This was a home run.
Grading Patriots 2018 sixth-round pick: LB Christian Sam – F
New England took the reigning Pac-12 leader in tackles Christian Sam out of Arizona State, a college that will bite this team later in the slideshow. Christian Sam looked good in his first preseason but finished the year on injured reserve before playing a game. The next season, he was one of the final roster cuts. The devastating 2018 draft continues.
Grading Patriots 2018 sixth-round pick: WR Braxton Berrios – D
It’s hard to remember that the Patriots actually once had New York Jets’ secret weapon, Braxton Berrios. Berrios started his career with New England but never played a game there. He was cut in August of 2019, and he immediately signed with the Jets. He’s been there ever since. Berrios isn’t a superstar or anything like that, but he’s a serviceable fourth or fifth wide receiver who can make big plays.
Grading Patriots 2018 seventh-round pick: QB Danny Etling – D
Danny Etling spent two seasons with LSU before entering the NFL Draft. The Patriots took a shot on him in the seventh round, but he never really made an impact. The Patriots put him on the practice squad, and he was able to watch the team win a Super Bowl. He failed to make the team in 2019 after transferring to the wide receiver position.
Grading Patriots 2018 seventh-round pick: CB Keion Crossen – C+
The Patriots took Keion Crossen in the seventh round, and in his rookie season, he could play defensive snaps in the Super Bowl. Not bad. The Patriots ended up trading Crossen to the Texans the next season, yet another 2018 draft pick that finished his career there before two seasons. He’s now on the Miami Dolphins, working mostly on special teams. He’s still a defense player.
Grading Patriots 2018 seventh-round pick: TE Ryan Izzo – B
Let’s guess where Ryan Izzo ended up prior to the 2018 season. That’s right, he never played a game because he was on injured reserve. He did survive into the 2019 season and even had 199 yards in the 2020 season. Izzo was an interesting prospect. He was traded to the Houston Texans before bouncing around half a dozen teams. Now, he plays in the USFL.