Christopher Price over at WEEI has been running a great series that has sparked some debate and helped pass the void in time with no free agency during the lockout: columns taking a look at who the Patriots have drafted in each round in the past, followed by a fan vote on which player was the best pick in each of those rounds in the history of the Patriots.
Today‚Äôs entry focuses on what player was the best third round pick in Patriots history and is essentially a two-candidate race: Tedy Bruschi or Curtis Martin.
There is not a detailed definition of ‚Äúbest‚ÄĚ draft pick; wisely this term is left up to each individual‚Äôs interpretation.¬† To me the vote is and should be about how well the players being discussed performed with the Patriots ‚Äď not in the NFL.¬† With that thought in mind I find it difficult to consider Martin because he was with the Pats for only three years.
I‚Äôm not going to hold the team he went to against him as some others might, but although he ended his career with numbers worthy of enshrinement in Canton, the reality is that he was with the Patriots for just three years.¬† Now granted those were three very good seasons that included a trip to the Super Bowl, but it was still a total of only 48 games that he played with the Pats.¬† If we were to look at how players the Pats drafted did outside of New England in determining the best draft pick for each round in the history of the franchise, then Rich Gannon was the best 4th round pick ever and Fran Tarkenton was the best 7th round pick ‚Äď and I highly doubt that anybody would agree with those choices.
Therefore, the vote has to go to Bruschi ‚Äď without even taking a close look at his career and leadership.
On a side note, it is interesting to take a look at the players the Patriots have selected since Bill Belichick replaced Pete Carroll:
- 2000 ‚Äď 3.76: RB J.R. Redmond
- 2001 ‚Äď 3.86: CB Brock Williams
- 2004 ‚Äď 3.95: S Guss Scott
- 2005 ‚Äď 3.84: CB Ellis Hobbs
- 2005 ‚Äď 3.100: T Nick Kaczur
- 2006 ‚Äď 3.86: TE David Thomas
- 2008 ‚Äď 3.78: OLB Shawn Crable
- 2008 ‚Äď 3.94: QB Kevin O‚ÄôConnell
- 2009 ‚Äď 3.83: WR Brandon Tate
- 2009 ‚Äď 3.97: ILB Tyrone McKenzie
- 2010 ‚Äď 3.90: WR Taylor Price
Overall not a stellar list, though it should be noted that third round picks have been used in trades that turned out to be good moves.¬† Hobbs and Kaczur were very productive, and nobody could have foreseen the injuries that derailed the careers of Redmond, Scott and McKenzie.¬† As for Tate and Mckenzie it is far too early to make a determination, though it is certainly an encouraging sign that Tate has seen as much playing time as he has thus far.
Crable‚Äôs timeline has been well documented, but in my opinion being critical of that pick is strictly 20-20 hindsight; he was very good in college and there was no reason to question the pick at the time it was made.
Brock Williams may be the most infamous of this group.¬† He appeared in a total of twelve NFL games, none of which were with the Pats.¬† He did receive a Super Bowl ring though ‚Äď which he pawned and has been the subject of multiple television shows.
The one draft pick I definitely questioned at the time it was made, and do even more so now was that of Kevin O‚ÄôConnell.¬† Why any team would use a third round pick on a player that would hopefully never get on the field is at minimum highly questionable.¬† Now I do realize that the 2008 draft class was very weak, but why draft a quarterback that early when you have Tom Brady?¬† Any player (other than a different quarterback) would have made more sense at that point; any one of several defensive back would have been the most logical way to go considering the team‚Äôs needs at that point in time.