Comparing the Patriots’ draft record since 2010 to Cleveland’s

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is counting his lucky stars that he drafted Rob Gronkowski, and also got out of Cleveland. 

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After reviewing the colossal amount of draft misses by the Cleveland Browns since 2010 in a post last week, many readers commented that such a list could be composed for any team. 

Well, we’ve decided to put that theory to the test, but not by just picking any team. What better way to prove or disprove this than by looking at the organization with the best record since 2010 — the New England Patriots, who are 75-21 while the Browns are 28-68, one game ahead of Jacksonville for the worst record during the span.

The same criteria will be used to evaluate New England’s draftees against the Browns’ picks. We’ll look at the player drafted and analyze the ensuing players that came off the board leading up to the team’s next pick to determine how bad of a miss the pick was. Only the first three rounds are covered since the draft is basically a crapshoot after that.

We begin with the 2010 draft: 

2010 NFL Draft

Patriots pick Better options When the Browns drafted… They could’ve drafted…
No. 27: Devin McCourty   No. 7: Joe Haden No. 14: Earl Thomas
No. 42: Rob Gronkowski     No. 15: Jason Pierre-Paul
No. 53: Jermaine Cunningham No. 54: Carlos Dunlap   No. 17: Mike Iupati
  No. 55: Sean Lee   No. 18: Maurkice Pouncey
  No. 60: Golden Tate   No. 22: Demaryius Thomas
No. 62: Brandon Spikes No. 69: Jared Veldheer   No. 24: Dez Bryant
  No. 82: Emmanuel Sanders No. 38: T.J. Ward, S No. 42: Rob Gronkowski
  No. 87: Eric Decker   No. 54: Carlos Dunlap
No. 90: Taylor Price No. 91: NaVorro Bowman   No. 55: Sean Lee
  No. 95: Jimmy Graham No. 59: Montario Hardesty, RB No. 60: Golden Tate
  No. 100: Everson Griffen   No. 82: Emmanuel Sanders
    No. 85: Colt McCoy, QB No. 87: Eric Decker
      No. 91: NaVorro Bowman
    No. 92: Shawn Lauvao, OT No. 95: Jimmy Graham
      No. 100: Everson Griffen
      No. 120: Geno Atkins
       

It’s beyond safe to say that New England nailed its first two selections with McCourty and Gronkowski. McCourty is a two-time All-Pro defensive back while Gronkowski is the best tight end in the game. Things go south from there with second-round picks Cunningham and Spikes, both former Florida Gators who flamed out pretty quickly.

It’s downright scary to consider that the Pats could’ve had Gronk and Jimmy Graham in the same draft. Aaron Hernandez wasn’t a bad consolation prize in the fourth round, at least until he decided to start offing people. Perhaps Bill Belichick trusted his good friend Urban Meyer’s advice a little too much. 

2011 NFL Draft

Patriots pick Other possible options When the Browns drafted… They could’ve drafted…
No. 17: Nate Solder No. 24: Cameron Jordan No. 21: Phil Taylor No. 24: Cameron Jordan
  No. 27: Jimmy Smith   No. 27: Jimmy Smith
  No. 28: Mark Ingram   No. 28: Mark Ingram
  No. 30: Muhammad Wilkerson   No. 30: Muhammad Wilkerson
No. 33: Ras-I Dowling No. 37: Jabaal Sheard   No. 35: Andy Dalton
  No. 43: Kyle Rudolph No. 37: Jabaal Sheard No. 58: Torrey Smith
  No. 46: Orlando Franklin No. 59: Greg Little No. 64: Randall Cobb
  No. 48: Stefen Wisniewski   No. 70: Justin Houston
No. 56: Shane Vereen No. 58: Torrey Smith   No. 71: DeMarco Murray
  No. 63: Marcus Gilbert   No. 77: Jurrell Casey
  No. 64: Randall Cobb    
  No. 70: Justin Houston    
  No. 71: DeMarco Murray    
No. 73: Stevan Ridley      
No. 74: Ryan Mallett No. 77: Jurrell Casey    
       
       
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 77: Jurrell Casey
No. 71: DeMarco Murray
No. 71: DeMarco Murray
No. 71: DeMarco Murray
No. 71: DeMarco Murray

Securing a starting left tackle in Solder is nothing to sneeze at. Dowling was a bust as the first pick of the second round. Without a need at quarterback (Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick), Jabaal Sheard is probably the best player the Patriots could’ve taken, but they made up for the mistake by signing him as a free agent last year. Vereen was a solid contributor during his four-year run with New England, but obviously Randall Cobb or DeMarco Murray would’ve been better options. Ridley also had his moments, including an excellent 2012 campaign, while the Pats never got a return on Mallett as Brady’s backup of the future. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey would’ve been a great fit up front in Belichick’s defense.

2012 NFL Draft

Patriots pick Other possible options When the Browns drafted… They could’ve drafted…
No. 21: Chandler Jones No. 24: David DeCastro No. 3: Trent Richardson No. 8: Ryan Tannehill
No. 25: Dont’a Hightower No. 26: Whitney Merclus   No. 9: Luke Kuechly
  No. 29: Harrison Smith   No. 11: Dontari Poe
  No. 31: Doug Martin   No. 12: Fletcher Cox
No. 33: Ras-I Dowling No. 45: Alshon Jeffery   No. 21: Chandler Jones
  No. 47: Bobby Wagner No. 22: Brandon Weeden No. 24: David DeCastro
No. 48: Tavon Wilson No. 58: Lavonte David   No. 29: Harrison Smith
  No. 60: Kelechi Osemele   No. 31: Doug Martin
  No. 67: Ronnie Hillman No. 37: Mitchell Schwartz No. 45: Alshon Jeffery
  No. 72: Olivier Vernon   No. 47: Bobby Wagner
No. 90: Jake Bequette  No. 92: T.Y. Hilton   No. 58: Lavonte David
  No. 97: Lamar Miller   No. 75: Russell Wilson
    No. 87: John Hughes No. 92: T.Y. Hilton
      No. 97: Lamar Miller
       
       
       

Chandler Jones has been the team’s best pass rusher with two double-digit sack seasons. While Harrison Smith, Alshon Jeffery or Bobby Wagner would’ve been better options for New England’s second first-round selection, Hightower is far from a bust. Second-rounder Tavon Wilson has done little, while Jake Bequette done nothing and was converted from defensive end to tight end last year.

2013 NFL Draft

Patriots pick Other possible options When the Browns drafted… They could’ve drafted…
No. 52: Jamie Collins   No. 6: Barkevious Mingo No. 13: Sheldon Richardson
No. 59: Aaron Dobson No. 61. Eddie Lacy   No. 20: Kyle Long
  No. 63: Travis Kelce   No. 21: Tyler Eifert
  No. 69: Tyrann Mathieu   No. 27: DeAndre Hopkins
  No. 76: Keenan Allen No. 39: Josh Gordon (2012 supplemental pick) No. 44: Kawann Short
No. 83: Logan Ryan No. 85: Jordan Reed   No. 48: Le’Veon Bell
No. 91: Duron Harmon No. 94: Brandon Williams   No. 61: Eddie Lacy
      No. 63: Travis Kelce
    No. 68: Leon McFadden No. 69: Tyrann Mathieu
      No. 76: Keenan Allen
      No. 85: Jordan Reed
No. 76: Keenan Allen
No. 76: Keenan Allen
No. 76: Keenan Allen
No. 76: Keenan Allen
No. 76: Keenan Allen
No. 76: Keenan Allen

Collins was the right pick here, but the Pats missed out on Le’Veon Bell by trading out of the late first round. Dobson had declined since a decent rookie season while Eddie Lacy, Travis Kelce or Tyrann Mathieu all would have been excellent fits, although the Patriots didn’t find out about Hernandez’s alternate life until a few months later. Logan Ryan was productive in his first year as a starting cornerback, while Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams would’ve been a stronger pick than Harmon in the third round.

2014 NFL Draft

Patriots pick Other possible options When the Browns drafted… They could’ve drafted…
No. 29 Dominique Easley

No. 35: Joel Bitonio No. 8: Justin Gilbert No. 12: Odell Beckham Jr.
  No. 42: Jordan Matthews   No. 13: Aaron Donald
  No. 55: Jeremy Hill   No. 15: Ryan Shazier
  No. 61: Allen Robinson   No. 16: Zack Martin
No. 62: Jimmy Garoppolo No. 63: Jarvis Landry   No. 17: C.J. Mosley
  No. 91: John Brown No. 22 Johnny Manziel No. 28: Kelvin Benjamin

  No. 92: Trai Turner   No. 32: Teddy Bridgewater
  No. 103: Devonta Freeman No. 35: Joel Bitonio No. 36, Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
      No. 42: Jordan Matthews
      No. 55: Jeremy Hill
      No. 61: Allen Robinson
      No. 63: Jarvis Landry
    No. 71: Christian Kirksey No. 91: John Brown
      No. 92: Trai Turner
    No. 94: Terrance West No. 103: Devonta Freeman
      No. 118: Martavis Bryant

 

No. 42: Jordan Matthews
No. 42: Jordan Matthews
No. 42: Jordan Matthews
No. 42: Jordan Matthews
No. 42: Jordan Matthews
No. 35: Joel Bitonio
No. 35: Joel Bitonio
No. 35: Joel Bitonio
No. 61: Allen Robinson
No. 61: Allen Robinson
No. 61: Allen Robinson
No. 61: Allen Robinson
No. 61: Allen Robinson
No. 61: Allen Robinson
No. 61: Allen Robinson
No. 61: Allen Robinson
No. 91: John Brown
No. 91: John Brown

Ironically, the Browns outwitted New England with their selection of guard Joel Bitonio, six picks after Dominique Easley. Allen Robinson had a superb sophomore campaign in Jacksonville, but his numbers may have crossed into ridiculous territory with Tom Brady as his quarterback. The verdict is still out on Jimmy Garoppolo, but plucking Landry away from the Dolphins would’ve been a big lift for the offense. New England traded out of the third round and ended up with starting center Bryan Stork early in the fourth, but they also could’ve had Devonta Freeman if they stayed put.

Conclusion

The Patriots have a mixed bag of hits and misses, but they have obviously drafted better than Cleveland despite drafting later in most rounds. The Browns, on the other hand, have missed badly on the vast majority of their 20 early picks rounds from 2010 to 2014.