New England Patriots: 10 Worst Draft Picks in Recent Years
New England Patriots' 10 Worst Draft Picks in Recent Years
Bill Belichick is known as a genius among followers of the New England Patriots when it comes to the x's and o's on the playing field. However, when the longest-tenured coach in the NFL gets into the draft room in April, he seems to have lost his mojo. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower is the latest example of a highly-touted, highly-selected draft pick who has not adjusted to Sundays like, say, Chandler Jones.
Granted, this is only Hightower's second year but the Alabama product was looked at as someone who could take the defense by storm and be an impact player 26 games now into his NFL career. So far in 2013, Hightower is on pace for less output statistically than a season ago. During his rookie campaign, Hightower recorded 4.0 sacks and 43 solo tackles in 14 games. In 12 contests this season, he has 35 solo tackles and one lone sack.
Lately, Hightower's output on the field has been lacking. He is not swift on his feet and cannot cover any receivers regardless of if they are quick slot receivers, running backs or burly tight ends with similar builds (just like the other highly-drafted inside linebacker from the SEC, Brandon Spikes). Hightower has also seen more time on the sidelines due to his ineffectiveness and strong efforts from 2010 undrafted free agent Dane Fletcher and rookie Jamie Collins. If Hightower keeps his lousy play up, he could get in the back of an extensive line of failed high draft picks under the Belichick regime over the last few years.
10. Patrick Chung (2009, Round 2, Pick 34)
Chung was the best high draft pick of Belichick's atrocious draft in 2009. The Jamaican-born safety looked like he would last in Foxborough, but the tides turned when he fumbled the snap on the fake punt in the 2010 divisional round loss to the New York Jets. Chung only started seven games in 2012, his final season in New England.
9. Ron Brace (2009, Round 2, Pick 40)
Brace was easy to root for. A Worcester, Massachusetts native who played four years at Boston College. He was expected to join Vince Wilfork to form a formidable duo at defensive tackle, but Brace was plagued by injuries, only playing in 38 games in four seasons.
8. Shawn Crable (2008, Round 3, Pick 78)
Was Shawn Crable supposed be dominant? No. But was he supposed to be productive? Yes. Rather, Crable made constant trips to the IR in his first three years, played in six games in 2010 in a role mainly on special teams. Crable recorded two tackles and half a sack as a Patriot and has played in both the United Football League and the Canadian Football League since.
7. Terrence Wheatley (2008, Round 2, Pick 62)
Wheatley was someone who the organization wanted to replace Asante Samuel. Injuries derailed his time in New England, as he played in only 11 games as a Patriot before a one-game stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
6. Brandon Tate (2009, Round 3, Pick 83)
A supposed first-round talent, Tate was injured during his entire last year at North Carolina. He was drafted to be a deep threat paired with Randy Moss, but instead caught only 24 catches in New England.
5. Jermaine Cunningham (2010, Round 2, Pick 53)
Cunningham is part of the reason no player ever from Urban Meyer's Florida Gators ever worked out in New England. During a time when the Patriots desperately needed some sort of a pass rush, Cunningham was not the answer. As a Patriot, he missed more games due to violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy (four) than sacks (3.5).
4. Darius Butler (2009, Round 2, Pick 41)
Butler only lasted two seasons in New England, his second providing little of note. After a rough Week 2, when the Patriots lost at the Jets, Butler was benched for giving up a timely touchdown and two other costly penalties. He now is making a pretty good name for himself for the Indianapolis Colts.
3. Taylor Price (2010, Round 3, Pick 90)
Another awful wide receiver drafted by Bill Belichick. The former Ohio Bobcat was another deep threat who did not pan out, catching five passes in New England -- the only five of his career. Price was waived by the Patriots in December of 2011, caught on with the Jaguars, and has never appeared in a game for Gus Bradley's squad because he has constantly been on the injured reserve.
2. Kevin O'Connell (2008, Round 3, Pick 94)
At some point, the Patriots needed to draft a quarterback in case something was to happen to Tom Brady. O'Connell was clearly not the answer. He played the second-string role when Matt Cassel quarterbacked the team in 2008, and seemingly out of nowhere, he was cut at the end of training camp in 2009 for Brian Hoyer, an undrafted rookie. O'Connell has bounced around to four different organizations since.
1. Ras-I Dowling (2011, Round 2, Pick 33)
Since Asante Samuel left after the 2007 season, the Patriots have struggled at cornerback. At the 2011 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick was on a mission to find the solution. What the coach drafted with the first pick in the second round was an injury-prone cornerback out of Virginia with good size. He played eight games in New England and is now on the Jets' practice squad.