As was the case a season ago, this team features many prominent players Bill Belichick brought to New England via free agency or trade. However, there’s an important collection of players on both sides of the ball who are homegrown talents found by Belichick and the Patriots’ scouting staff in the draft.
Outside of Belichick-drafted players and , let’s examine how these Patriots were built through the draft.
United are N says Ruiz sees the Bernabeu as his preferred destination, despite rival interest from City and Barcelona.Ruiz does not have a release clause, and he could cost Madrid up to £86million.They have long held an interest in the 23-year-old and followedoffering 19-year-old midfielder Angel Gomes a bumper new deal.Gomes joined United’s academy at the age of six and has now broken through into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first-team plans after a series of impressive performances.United are sai
Michel had an illustrious career at Georgia alongside stud teammate Nick Chubb. The former top recruit was expected to enter the 2017 Draft but stayed with the Bulldogs for his senior year and averaged 7.9 yards per carry with 15 rushing scores. Despite a smaller frame and twitchiness, Michel grew into an efficient between-the-tackles runner in that final year in college. After totaling just 84 yards on his first 24 carries in the , Michel ran efficiently for the rest of the regular season, when he averaged 4.57 yards per carry (847 yards on 185 attempts). Importantly too has been Michel’s postseason production as the clear-cut workhorse for a Patriots offense much more dedicated to the run than one would expect with Tom Brady still playing quarterback at a high level. He recorded back-to-back 100-yard outings in the divisional round and the AFC title game, and he’s scored a whopping five touchdowns.
Thuney has been an ironman since entering the league in 2016 as a third-round pick. He’s played in 50 games, including 100% of the Patriots offensive snaps in 2018. He was a late-riser coming out of NC State and was a brick wall in pass-protection, especially late in his collegiate career. At the combine in 2016, he tested as one of the most athletic interior offensive guards in the class and of the past 20 years, with a 40-yard dash, broad jump, three-cone drill, and short shuttle no lower than the 87th percentile at the position since 1999. Thuney has gradually improved since an up-and-down rookie season and is now in the upper echelon of guards in the NFL.
The Patriots knew they were getting a ridiculous run-blocker when they drafted Mason out of Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense in 2015. Being slightly under 6-foot-2 and under 310 pounds led to many believing Mason wouldn’t be able to continue his dominance paving lanes for the running game at the NFL level. That thought was wrong. Not only has Mason utilized his low-center-of-gravity power and light feet to routinely win the leverage and angle battles against defensive linemen and linebackers, under the tutelage of legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, he’s become a reliable pass-protector too.
The 13th running back picked in the 2014 Draft, behind air backs like Dri Archer, Ka’Deem Carey, and De’Anthony Thomas, White has proven to be the most efficient of the group, although he’s morphed into almost purely an underneath wide receiver in New England. He ran for over 1,000 yards at 5.7 yards per carry with 14 rushing touchdowns as a freshman at Wisconsin but didn’t have more than 15 receptions in a season until his senior year when he had 39. His 8 and 1/4-inch hands measure in the 1st percentile among backs at the combine since 1999, but amazingly he’s been a super-reliable pass-catcher with 289 grabs in the regular and post season over the past four years. White currently has six carries for 23 yards and 19 snags for 146 yards in these playoffs.
Cannon battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma at the beginning of his career, and he’s come back from that illness with a vengeance. While he’s nursed some normal football injuries the past two seasons, which has limited him to just 20 games, the massive right tackle is one of the most underrated blockers in the league. In 2011 at the combine, Cannon measured in at 6-5 and 358 pounds, did 33 reps on the bench and still managed a vertical jump over 30 inches, which placed in the 79th percentile. Even his 5.26 second time in the 40 is in the 54th percentile, an awesome feat for someone his size. Cannon plays with impressive balance and plenty of power.
Edelman was (now famously) a quarterback at Kent State but Belichick took a flier on him as a receiver in the seventh round in 2009. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t invited to the combine that year but rocked his pro day with some insane numbers. At just under 5-11 and 195 pounds, Edelman ran a pedestrian 4.52 yet had a three-cone drill time of 6.62 seconds and a short shuttle drill of 3.92. How good are those figures? The three-cone time places him in the 94th percentile among receivers at the combine starting in 1999. The short-shuttle time is in the 97th percentile. No wonder Edelman has been so elusive in his Patriots career.
Belichick’s ability to find powerful, highly athletic offensive linemen in the middle rounds has been a key piece to the Patriots success, especially this season. Of course, without Brady, New England’s offense wouls six Premier League clubs are chasing Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson.Wilson, 22, has shone on loan at Derby County from Liverpool this season.The Mirror says Bournemouth, Newcastle, Southampton and Brighton are the top-flight contingent asking fod be considerably different, but a lot of credit has to be given to the likes of Thuney, Mason and Co. up front and for Belichick for being patient and finding them outside the first two rounds. As for Michel, for as good as he’s been of late, Belichick using a first-round pick on him was probably not the best value. However, for as much ridicule as teams have recently (and rightfully) received for taking a back that early, New England did have two first-round selections in 2018 and as a contender, adding a talented offensive piece isn’t the worst idea.
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Roberts had 142 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, and six sacks in his senior season at Houston. His 142 tackles (and 88 solo) led the country in 2015. At just over 5-11 and a compact 234 pounds with 4.60 speed, Roberts landed in the sixth round. Not shocking. But he’s carved out an important niche as a rotational linebacker who finds the football often. In 2018, he only played 41% of New England’s defensive snaps but managed 65 total tackles and four pass breakups. Roberts reads play designs very quickly and is a high-motor defender.
Flowers has been the Patriots’ best pass-rusher for a few seasons now, and his hand work (and long arms) are to thank for his consistent production. At 6-2 and 266 pounds, Flowers’ 34 and 1/4-inch arms are super long, and he uses a variety of pass-rushing moves to beat offensive linemen after he keeps them off his chest. Flowers is an explosive linear athlete too, so he can win with burst off the snap. His vertical and broad at the 2015 combine are in the 90th and 91st percentile respectively among defensive linemen at the combine since 1999. He’s set to hit free agency after the Super Bowl and is bound to sign a lucrative multi-year deal.
Brown didn’t have his fifth-year option picked up by the Patriots, so, like Flowers, he’s an impending free agent. The soon-to-be 25-year-old former first-round pick doesn’t have the dynamic athleticism to be a serious pass-rusher in the NFL, and his stats back that up. He has 8.5 sacks in three seasons and didn’t have a quarterback takedown in 2018. However, he’s a stellar block-shedder and a 6-2 and 319 pounds, he’s a boulder on the inside. Brown’s a great run-defender, which still has its value. Just not nearly as much as it did even five or 10 years ago.
After not being invited to the combine in 2013, Belichick took criticism for picking Harmon at No. 91 overall in that draft. He had five picks as a junior in 2011 but only reeled in one interception as a senior. He played in 15 games as a rookie and has played a full regular season in each year since, and he already has 15 picks to his name at the pro level, including four in 2017 and four in 2018. Harmon is a versatile safety who plays the run well, is above-average in coverage, and has great ball skills. This was a gem of a find for Belichick.
McCourty is the quarterback of New England’s secondary and has seemingly not lost a step now into his 30s. At 5-11 and 193 pounds, he ran a blistering 4.38 in the 40 in 2010 and of any ball-carrier in 2018, when he reached 22.05 miles per hour an interception against the Bills in October. McCourty has at least one pick in every season as a professional and hasn’t had fewer than 78 tackles since 2015. He still has elite range from center field, which allows the Patriots to get an extra defender into the box with single high safety looks.
Belichick has been able to get more out of Harmon, Flowers, and Roberts than anyone thought he could. McCourty started as a corner and has been one of the best safeties in the game for years now. Harmon and Flowers have standout athletic traits, and Roberts’ high-energy playing style is an ideal fit in his sub-package role.