|Vote: Who was the best seventh-round pick in Patriots history?||04.06.11 at 4:06 pm ET|
With the NFL draft on the horizon, we’re going to look back at the Patriots’ best draft picks by round, with the four best selections the franchise has made in each round. Today, we’ve got the seventh rounders — a surprising group that has achieved some real success with the Patriots, especially over the last 10 years. Vote for your favorite:
Julian Edelman: 2009, 232nd overall. The former college quarterback out of Kent State transitioned to wide receiver as a rookie, and had one of the finest rookie seasons of any seventh-round pick in franchise history, finishing 2009 with 37 catches for 359 yards and a touchdown. He struggled in 2010, but the still managed to contribute as a special teamer on punt returns, taking one all the way back in the regular-season finale against the Dolphins.
Matt Cassel: 2005, 230th overall. Despite the fact that he spent his entire career at USC as a backup quarterback to Heisman winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, the Patriots took him with their final pick of the 2005 draft. While he saw virtually no time over the first three seasons of his career, following a season-ending injury to Tom Brady in the 2008 opener, Cassel took the reins and led New England to an 11-5 record while throwing for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns. At the end of the season, he was franchised, and summarily dealt to Kansas City with linebacker Mike Vrabel for a second-round pick.
Tully Banta-Cain: 2003, 239th overall. The linebacker out of Cal, currently in his second tour of duty with the Patriots, was a reserve on the teams that won Super Bowl XXXVIII and Super Bowl XXXIX. Following the 2006 season, the Bay Area native signed a big free agent deal with his hometown 49ers, and spent two seasons in San Francisco before returning to the Patriots. As a starter in 2009, he set a career-best with 10 sacks with New England.
David Givens: 2002, 253rd overall. The Notre Dame product was an all-purpose flanker with the Fighting Irish, but became a wide receiver when the Patriots took him in 2002. It took him a year or so to find his footing, but he became an integral part of the receiving corps, and would go on to be a part of two Super Bowl winners. In 2004, Givens had his best season with New England, finishing with 56 catches for 874 yards and two touchdowns, and in four seasons with the Patriots, he had 158 catches for 2,214 yards and 12 touchdowns, and was New England’s all-time leader in playoff touchdown receptions.
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