12 Draft Picks That Didn’t Work Out During the Bill Belichick Era

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NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

Draft Day is just about here and optimism is abound with each selection that is made. The Patriots have had some very good drafts in recent years, but let’s be honest, Bill Belichick has also had some misses and some bigger than others. It’s time to take a look at the 10 worst draft picks of the Bill Belichick era and hope none of this year’s picks end up on this list in the future.

There are different levels to being a bad draft pick. If a seventh round draft pick doesn’t work out, it’s not that big of a deal, since the odds of finding a good player that late in the draft is lower. Draft picks that don’t work out higher in the draft are given much more weight in my mind than in the later rounds. For example, Andy Stokes, TE, William Penn who was the last pick in the draft and never played a down for the Patriots didn’t make the list.

12. Adrian Klemm, OT, Hawaii – 2000 Draft – 2nd Round Pick 46
Klemm was the Patriots first draft pick with Bill Belichick running the franchise. The offensive guard from Hawaii was drafted to be a tackle for the Patriots. In five seasons with the Patriots Klemm managed to start only ten games and made very little impact. In fact the fourth round pick that year Greg Robinson-Randall passed Klemm early on, which relegated him to the bench. The following year the Patriots drafted Matt Light in the second round and the writing was on the wall for Klemm. After the Patriots released him after the 2004 season, he went on to play one season with the Green Bay Packers and was out of football after that.

11. Shawn Crable, OLB, Michigan – 2008 Draft – 3rd Round Pick 78
Patriots fans were thrilled when Bill Belichick finally drafted an OLB who could rush the passer in the third round of the 2008 draft. Fans had high expectations for the Michigan Wolverine. After seeing Shawn Crable in his first pre-season practice one thing was clear and very worrisome; his toothpick thin legs. Crable’s legs were the beginning and the end of all his problems. He didn’t get into a game in 2008 due in part to being inactive for the first few games and then being placed on injured reserve with a shin injury. In 2009, Crable was placed on I.R in training camp with a groin injury. After being released and signed to the practice squad in 2010, Crable was finally able to get on the field for the Patriots. He appeared in six games, making little impact and was released on November 16, 2010. Crable is currently out of football and it looks like his career is already over.

10. Bethel Johnson, WR, Texas A&M – 2003 Draft – 2nd Round Pick 45
Bethel Johnson’s career with the Patriots will look pro bowl caliber compared to some of the other players on this list. However, being the 45th pick in the draft the Patriots hoped to get a lot more from Johnson than 30 catches and 450 yards. Bethel Johnson was a speedy vertical threat coming out of Texas A&M. The pick was considered a little bit of a reach at the time because of Johnson’s lack of production in college. Johnson served primarily as a kick return specialist for the Patriots and made a few big plays. His most productive year was as a rookie (16-209-2) and his production declined each year after that. Johnson’s work ethic was horrible and had an even bigger ego, which made his stay in Foxboro short. Johnson lasted three seasons with the Patriots before being traded to the Saints for Jonathan Sullivan.

9. Brock Williams, CB, Notre Dame – 2001 NFL Draft – 3rd Round Pick 86
Williams was considered a bit of a reach in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft. After hitting on Richard Seymour and Matt Light with the first two picks of the draft, the team missed badly on Williams. He tore his ACL in training camp and was place on I.R. The following year he was released and signed to the practice squad. Williams was able to make it through only two months on the practice squad before being release. He was picked up by the Raiders and Bears, but never amounted to anything. Williams is perhaps best known for Pawning his Super Bowl ring, which is featured on the Reality TV show, Pawn Stars.

8. Brandon Tate, WR, North Carolina – 2009 Draft – 3rd Round Pick 83
The Patriots took a chance on Tate in the third round despite the fact that he was still recovering from a torn ACL that he had suffered in college. Tate was immediately behind the 8 ball, and was placed on the P.U.P list until he was fully healthy. He made his NFL debut in London against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but wasn’t able to record a catch. He played the next week, but re-injured his knee and missed the rest of the season. In 2010 Tate flashed some talent both on kick offs and at the WR position. Tate finished the year with 24 catches for 432 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tate also contributed two kick return touchdowns. That would be as good as it gets for Tate as he was never able to develop further. He struggled to run the proper routes, dropped too many balls and struggled to grasp the complicated passing system. Tate was release after training camp last season and was picked up by the Bengals. What makes the Brandon Tate pick even more painful is that the very next selection in the draft was another WR. The Steelers selected Ole Miss WR Mike Wallace who has developed into the best deep threat in the game. Ugh.

7. Tyrone McKenzie, LB, South Florida – 2009 Draft – 3rd Round Pick 97
The 3rd Round of the 2009 draft was not kind to the Patriots. After missing on Tate fourteen picks earlier the Patriots took the middle linebacker from South Florida. At the time the pick was considered a real good value pick due to McKenzie’s upside. McKenzie’s career with the Patriots got off to a disastrous start, tearing his ACL in rookie mini camp. This ended McKenize’s 2009 season. He appeared healthy in training camp, but was unable to make the team. He was placed on the practice squad but was released halfway through the season and signed on with the Buccaneers. He never appeared in a regular season game for the Patriots.

6. Darius Butler, CB, UConn – 2009 Draft – 2nd Round Pick 41
Darius Butler seemed like a great pick at the time. The Patriots got the athletic CB out of UConn at a time where their secondary was rebuilding. Butler came in as a rookie and showed flashes of being a great pick. What happened between his rookie year and his second year remains a mystery. He looked like a completely different player and lost total confidence. Teams would routinely pick on Butler and he just couldn’t recover mentally. Butler was released last summer after it was clear he wasn’t capable of improving on his rookie season. The Patriots placed Butler on waivers and he was claimed by the Carolina Panthers.

5. Terrence Wheatley, CB, Colorado – 2008 Draft – Round 2 Pick 62
Wheatley was considered a major reach at the time of the pick. Every draft analyst and expert had Wheatley ranked in the 4th-5th round pick. Wheatley also entered the league with injury concerns (wrist, groin, hamstring) and those concerns carried over to the NFL. Wheatley actually looked pretty good for the first 4-5 games of this career, until he injured his wrist against the Colts and was forced to miss the rest of the 2008 season. He barely saw the field in 2009 and got injured again in the 2010 preseason which made him inactive for the first half of the season. Wheatley was release midway through the 2010 season. The pick right after Wheatley was USC CB Terrell Thomas who has been a very good NFL CB despite battling injuries.

4. Taylor Price, WR, Ohio – 2010 Draft – 3rd Round Pick 90
Taylor Price’s NFL career got off on the wrong track right away. Due to a graduation rule Price was not allowed to practice with the Patriots until after he graduated from Ohio U. which meant he couldn’t take part in mini camp or rookie camp. Price was immediately behind the rest of the rookies and wasn’t able to make up the gap in training camp. He didn’t get on the field in 2010 until the season finale against the Dolphins where he caught three passes. While Price flashed some potential in 2011 he struggled to learn the play book and complicated passing system. Price was release early on during last season and has since hooked up with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

3. Kevin O’Connell, QB, San Diego State – 2008 NFL Draft – Round 3 Pick 94
The O’Connell pick was a real headscratcher. The Patriots at the time had Tom Brady coming off the best season a QB had ever had and had up and coming back up Matt Cassel. The O’Connell pick was much different from last year’s Ryan Mallett pick. Mallett was considered possibly the best QB in the draft while O’Connell was considered a mid-round QB who would take time to develop. Bill Belichick has been on record saying that the 2008 NFL Draft was one of the worst drafts he remembers and was taking players in the mid rounds, that some years would be an UDFA. O’Connell struggled mightily to grasp the offense and it was obvious early on the pick wouldn’t work out. O’Connell was released the next summer after spending only one season with the team. He has bounced around the league with the Lions, Jets and Dolphins making no impact with any team.

2. Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota – 2006 Draft – Round 1 Pick 21
Perhaps the biggest and lone first round bust of the Bill Belichick era is Laurence Maroney. The Patriots drafted Maroney to take over for Corey Dillon after one year of waiting in the wings and learning from the veteran. Maroney showed a lot of promise as a rookie rushing for 745 yards and receiving another 194 yards. He was expected to have a big season the following year. While the offense was historically explosive and the team went undefeated Maroney didn’t live up to the expectations. He was able to rush for 835 yards and 6 touchdowns. Unfortunately, for Maroney and the Patriots that was the best season Maroney would enjoy and it was all down hill from there. Maroney only appeared in three games in 2008 due to a shoulder injury and had an unproductive 2009 season. Maroney was infuriating to watch run as he would pitter patter and dance behind the line instead of hitting holes. Maroney was traded to the Broncos in 2009, where Maroney didn’t do anything there either.

1. Chad Jackson, WR, Florida – 2006 NFL Draft – Round 2 Pick 36
The pick immediately after Laurence Maroney is the worst pick of the Bill Belichick era and no one would have guessed it at the time. The Jackson pick was considered a steal at the time and fans were shocked the Patriots traded up to go get the most athletic WR in the draft. The Patriots traded a 2nd and 3rd round pick to the Green Bay Packers to go up and get the Florida WR. Despite having extraordinary measurables Jackson had one of the worst work ethics of any Patriots draft picks ever. There was a sense of entitlement, cockiness and he felt like the rules didn’t apply to him. That attitude didn’t fit in around New England very long and he was released after two short seasons in which Jackson amassed 13 catches for 152 yards and only 3 touchdowns. What makes matters worse is that the pick the Patriots traded to Green Bay was used to select WR Greg Jennings who is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Another ugh.

Some Late Round Picks that Didn’t Work Out:

PK Sam, WR, Florida State – 5th Round, 2004
Ryan Claridge, LB, UNLV – 5th Round, 2005
Clint Oldenberg, OT, Colorado State – 5th Round, 2007
Justin Rogers, LB, SMU – 6th Round, 2007
Justise Hairston, RB, Central Conn. State – 6th Round, 2007
Jake Ingram, LS, Hawaii – 6th Round, 2009
Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State – 7th Round, 2010

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27 Responses to “12 Draft Picks That Didn’t Work Out During the Bill Belichick Era”

  1. Rickey says:

    remember one more thing bb is a good coach butmost of the talent he won those super bowls with were selected by parcells n carroll exept brady who was just luck

  2. Rickey says:

    bb has had many bad drafts 05-08 yielded just 2 starters mayo n mankins.06-07 were total busts.09 brought us vollmer n chung but chung is not impact. i would call 09 a bust cuz many picks didnt work out when there were so many in the first 5 rds that did n were available 2 us.wallace,barwin krueger ect….. his main problem seems 2b he doesnt like coaching up rookie talent unless he is backedin a corner n has no other options then he ends up taking a player who ran some plays in college similar 2 some of his rather than pure talent or where there isnt mucch talent available in his area of need there was no reason not 2 have draft n edge rusher last yr. kerrigan smith miller quinn. cuz no edge rusher this yr comes close 2 any of those guys.i dont even get excited bout the draft anymoree

  3. Steve says:

    There’s a large group left off this list i.e. Meriweather, E Wilson, Ellis Hobbs, M Hill, & R Brace who were all bad selections. BB the GM makes BB Head Coach job a tough one – stay put & draft the BDP available @ 27 & 31. Please

  4. james mayfield says:

    Sooo we’ve definitely established that it was the “writer” of this post that freaked out at my comment. I’m sure an impartial third party was on here at 5:04 am calling one of the readers a “needle-d*ck scumbag.”Professionalism at it’s finest, guys. Look forward to having this reply deleted/not posted by your crack editorial staff.

    • Mike Loyko says:

      Actually this is the first time I have read the comment section, when the “writer” posts in the comment section it says my name. I dont have the time to be on here a 5:04 am trolling the comments

    • Andrew Smith says:

      I am not writer but I am an impartial reader of the site, i just don’t appreciate when someone insults a good writer based off no facts what so ever. My name is Andrew Smith and as much as I’d love to write for this site I do not, and I did in fact call you a needle-d*ck scumbag because maybe you should think before you go trolling on some website.

      P.S.- Hey Mike, either this guy is a very sore Jets fan or maybe you really pissed someone off in high school…or it’s secretly Mel Kiper trying to squash the success of other draft experts.

  5. Prefectly Smart says:

    Say what you want about Darius Butler, but the player he was drafted after has started half as many NFL games as Darius has. That player’s name is Ron Brace.

    Just saying….

  6. BILL says:

    So many great athletes around every year. Its so much about head and health. Stay healthy and dedicated to improvement. Its impossible for us to see a 1 paragraph analysis and a 30 second u-tube film and be well imformed.
    So much depends on the interview and figuring out what these guys are all, about. Due diligence!!!
    There are few sure things but by next Sunday we’ll know that:

    1. Something weird will happen like someone trading up to Minny to grab Trent Richardson, or someone way overpaying to get a QB, upsetting the rest of the order.

    2. Someone really good will fall and someone really mediocre will rise.

    3. With so many people saying how deep WR is, you know lots of guys are over-rated, and that list has a few Chad Jacksons in it
    I hope the front 7 isn’t the same.

  7. Ryan says:

    It would be very interesting to see which of these failed picks, were extra picks. The fact we get a couple extra picks allows Bill to take a chance on guys like Crable and Tate, guys who were hurt coming out of college.

    We are very lucky as a team to have 5 picks in the first 3 rounds. Not only that we over exaggerate our needs, and our team would probably be able to compete without taking a single player from this draft.

    • BILL says:

      Once the pick is yours, it ain’t an extra one. Nobody is gonna take a flyer on a guy because the pick was actually last years trade.

  8. james mayfield says:

    What access did this writer have to the patriots? I would like to know how he knew of particular athletes “cockiness and entitlement.” Was he a beat writer? Did he have a press pass. BS conjecture written as fact makes sites like this lose credibility incredibly fast.

    • AP says:

      Apparently you aren’t much of a Patriots fan… do a little reading and educate yourself a bit… it has been well documented in several places the issues with Chad Jackson…

      If you were any kind of fan you wouldn’t have been surprised to read those FACTS.

  9. Dave says:

    How does DT Marquis Hill not make the list? He was a 2nd rd pick who never produced for the team. It was tragic that he died, but his on field performance never lived up to a 2nd rd pick.

  10. AM says:

    I still think the team should have given Price a bit more of a chance. He had enough flashes of potential that he might eventually have become productive. Either way, it seems like every time the Patriots draft a WR based on athleticism and not production it fails to pan out.

  11. Mark says:

    You would need to make a list of the 32 teams worst picks to give perspective – every team has scouting issues. BB knows that and is able to scramble up a few extra shots every year. So what if he wiffs on a few – I’d rather wiff on a 2nd rounder than a first. The xtra picks has allowed him to sustain a “dynastic superiority” while other teams like the Colts must go through massive rebuilding cycles. It has also allowed him to take riskier investments. This is the year we find out how well BB drafted last year.

  12. Tim says:

    You know I once met Bethel Johnson at an Olive Garden. Nice guy

  13. Nuf Ced says:

    Don’t forget the Belichick overruled his scouts and took Maroney over DeAngelo Williams…

    Thank you Ben McDaniels…

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