By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — We highlighted Bill Belichick’s draft misses, so now it’s time to give the guy some credit for his hits. He doesn’t have as many as his boy Bon Jovi, but Belichick could make a pretty good boxed set out of his draft hits.READ MORE: Hall Scores Again, Swayman Solid As Bruins Blank Islanders
It obviously starts with his first draft as HC of the NEP, but through the years Belichick has been able to add some key members of two dynastic runs through the draft. He’s been a bit shaky as of late, but maybe he can rekindle that old magic with 10 picks in the upcoming draft.
So without further ado, here are Bill’s Greatest Draft Hits:
Tom Brady, QB: Drafted in 6th Round, 199th overall, in 2000
What better way to start this list than the best draft pick of all time. This Brady guy turned out all right in New England after he took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001.
You don’t need any refresher on what one Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. did for the Patriots, but we’ll give you a quick one anyways. He completely turned the franchise around, leading New England to six Super Bowl titles and nine trips to the big game overall. He became the G.O.A.T. over 20 seasons with the Patriots, and added to his Super Bowl collection with the Buccaneers last season.
Richard Seymour, DE: Drafted in 1st Round, 6th overall, in 2001
Belichick built from the line out when he arrived, and Seymour is one of the best picks he ever made. While many were clamoring for a wide receiver for Bledsoe, Belichick took this beast out of Georgia. Seymour was an imposing figure along the edge for the Patriots for eight years, registering 39 sacks, three forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.
He will be getting a red jacket from the Patriots soon, and a spot in Canton should follow.
Matt Light, LT: Drafted in 2nd Round, 48th overall, in 2001
The long-time protector of Tom Brady’s blindside, Light was solid throughout his 11 years with the Patriots. He also had jokes. Lots and lots of jokes.
Deion Branch, WR: Drafted in 2nd Round, 65th overall, in 2002
Branch was Mr. Reliable in the offense, with 213 catches for 2,744 yards and 14 touchdowns his first three years with the team. He was MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX after hauling in a 11 catches for 133 yards against the Eagles.
A contract dispute led to an early divorce with the receiver, but he came back in 2010 to help solidify a shaky Patriots receiving corps. And that smile of his was contagious.
Jarvis Green, DE: Drafted in 4th Round, 126th overall, in 2002
The Patriots defensive line was a feared unit when the team was winning Super Bowls early in the century, and Green was a big part of that. He had 28 sacks in eight seasons with the Patriots.
David Givens, WR: Drafted in 7th Round, 253rd overall, in 2002
What a steal in the final round. Givens caught some huge passes for the Patriots during two Super Bowls runs, hauling in seven touchdowns in eight career playoff games.
Ty Warren, DE: Drafted in 1st Round, 13th overall, in 2003
Another important part of New England’s vaunted defensive line in the first part of the dynasty.
Asante Samuel, CB: Drafted in 4th Round, 120th overall, in 2003
Yes, one of his final plays with the Patriots wasn’t great. But Samuel was a solid corner for five years in New England, leading the NFL with 10 interceptions in 2006.
Dan Koppen, C: Drafted in 5th Round, 164th overall, in 2003
Koppen was a steady force snapping the ball to Brady for nine seasons, making 120 starts for the Patriots.
Vince Wilfork, NT: Drafted in 1st Round, 21st overall, in 2004
Big Vince was a monster in the middle of the defensive line for over a decade, and bookended his Patriots career with Super Bowl victories. Plus he makes some great ribs, has some incredible dance moves, and can wear the heck out of overalls.
Benjamin Watson, TE: Drafted in 1st round, 32nd overall, in 2004
An all-around solid tight end for six years, Watson had 21 touchdowns in 80 games for the Patriots over two stints with the team.
Logan Mankins, G: Drafted in 1st Round, 32nd overall, in 2005
It’s not always easy finding something with the final pick in the first round, but in Mankins, Belichick found a reliable and gritty guard who was an important part of protecting Brady for nine years.
Stephen Gostkowski, K: Drafted in 4th Round, 118th overall, in 2007
Adam Vinatieri left via free agency, and Belichick replaced him with Gostkowski, who turned into one of the most reliable kickers in NFL history.
He hit 87.4 percent of his kicks with the Patriots, the highest in team history, and he’s also the Patriots’ all-time leader in points, which is kind of a big deal.
Jerod Mayo, LB: Drafted in 1st Round, 10th overall, in 2008
Mayo was an instant hit, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in his first season. He was a steady force in the linebacking corps and a defensive captain for years, and Mayo is now a member of the Patriots coaching staff.
Matthew Slater, ST: Drafted in 5th Round, 153rd overall, in 2008
Slater is so much more than just a leader on special teams — and he’s pretty darn good at that too. A long-time team captain, he’s one of the most well-respected Patriots in the locker room and around the league. A true football player, and a future member of the team’s Hall of Fame.
Sebastian Vollmer, T: Drafted in 2nd Round, 58th overall, in 2009READ MORE: BAA, Doug Flutie Team Up To Make Boston Marathon More Inclusive
Vollmer was a key cog along the New England offensive line for seven years. The Dusseldorf, Germany native dealt with some injuries in his career, but played in 88 games for the Patriots and won a Super Bowl with the team in 2014.
Julian Edelman, WR: Drafted in 7th Round, 232nd overall in 2009
Did you know that Edelman was a quarterback in college?
The Patriots drafted him as a wide receiver, and it’s worked out pretty well. Take your pick from Jules’ Greatest Hits, since he’s got plenty. We’ll go with this one:
Good pick. Real good pick.
Devin McCourty, DB: Drafted in 1st Round, 27th overall, in 2010
McCourty had an incredible rookie year at corner before moving to safety. He’s carved out an incredible 11-year career as New England’s quarterback on defense.
Rob Gronkowski, TE: Drafted in 2nd Round, 42nd overall, in 2010
Believe it or not, Gronk was seen as a risky pick when selected due to a history of injuries. That was silly.
Gronkowski went on to become a dynamic offensive force for the Patriots, and will go down as one of the greatest tight ends ever — if not the greatest tight end ever.
Aaron Hernandez, TE: Drafted in 4th Round, 113th overall, in 2010
Hernandez was also a pretty good offensive player and with Gronk, gave New England a pair of dynamic tight ends for a few years. But there was a reason he fell in the draft, and the Patriots would have been better off doing a much better background check on him before the draft — and before giving him a contract extension a few years later.
Nate Solder, LT: Drafted in 1st Round, 17th overall, in 2011
In need of an eventual replacement for Matt Light, Belichick found one in Solder.
Shane Vereen, RB: Drafted in 2nd Round, 56th overall, in 2011
Vereen was the new Kevin Faulk, a third-down back who hauled in just about everything Tom Brady threw his way. Once he learned how to catch a wheel route, Vereen was nearly unstoppable.
One running back wasn’t enough, so Belichick also drafted Stevan Ridley in the third round, 73rd overall. Ridley scored 22 touchdowns in his four years with the Patriots.
Chandler Jones, DE: Drafted in 1st Round, 21st overall, in 2012
Getting Jones in the early 20s was a steal, as he turned into one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
Dont’a Hightower, LB: Drafted in 1st Round, 25th overall, in 2012
How about TWO monster contributors on defense in the same draft, just a few picks apart. Pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Hightower continues to be one of New England’s defensive leaders, and he has a knack for making some pretty big plays in the biggest moments.
Jamie Collins, LB: Drafted in 3rd Round, 52nd overall, in 2013
Collins was a freak athlete for the Patriots, with 17.5 sacks over two stints with the team. He led the NFL with five forced fumbles in 2015 and earned himself a Pro Bowl nod.
Logan Ryan, DB: Drafted in 3rd Round, 83rd overall, in 2013
Ryan was a solid No. 2 corner for four years, picking off 13 passes in 64 games. Belichick also drafted fellow Rutgers defensive back Duron Harmon eight picks later, finding a pair of key secondary contributors late in the third round.
James White, RB: Drafted in 4th Round, 130th overall, in 2014
Brady’s third-down security blanket for years, White has been a professional on and off the field since joining the Patriots. He also scored a pretty important touchdown in a pretty epic Super Bowl win.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB: Drafted in 2nd Round, 62nd overall, in 2014
Garoppolo didn’t play much for the Patriots, getting a game-and-a-half in place of a suspended Tom Brady in 2016, and he really didn’t get them much when he was dealt to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. But the Garoppolo pick lit a fire under Brady’s backside, reinvigorating the quarterback for an incredible run in the second half of his career.
Jimmy is a pretty decent QB too, and maybe… just maybe…. he’ll be back in New England in the near future.
Trey Flowers, DE: Drafted in 4th Round, 101st overall, in 2015
What an absolute find. Flowers was a monster for the Patriots, racking up 21 sacks in his three full seasons of action. He also had 5.5 sacks in nine playoff games, winning a pair of Super Bowls during his time in New England.
Joe Thuney, G: Drafted in 3rd Round, 78th overall, in 2016
An absolute stud along the offensive line who barely missed any snaps.
We’ll hold judgement on the last two drafts for another year or so, but it looks like Belichick has future hits in 2020 picks Kyle Dugger (2nd round, 37th overall) and Mike Onwenu (6th round, 182nd overall), with the latter being an absolute steal along the offensive line thus far. 2019 picks Damien Harris (3rd round, 87th overall) also has a very promising future out of the New England backfield, and punter Jake Bailey (5th Round, 163rd overall) is a stud on special teams.MORE NEWS: Red Sox Game Vs. White Sox Postponed Due To 'Winterlike Conditions'
Honorable Mention: Linebacker Brandon Spikes, 2nd Round in 2010; Punter Zoltan Mesko, 5th Round in 2010; Running back Patrick Pass, 7th Round in 2000.