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A look at the 2009 draft: Who the Patriots could have had over Ron Brace

12.30.12 at 12:37 pm ET
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The Patriots waived defensive lineman Ron Brace on Saturday after the Boston College product recorded just four tackles in 10 games played this season. Brace was drafted in 2009 in the second round by the Patriots ‘€“ part of a New England draft class that, for the most part, didn’€™t last long with the organization.

In fact, there are only three Patriots players from that 2009 draft class — the Pats made 12 selections — still with the team: Sebastian VollmerJulian Edelman and Patrick Chung.

Brace was the Patriots’€™ second selection in 2009 at 40th overall, just six picks behind Chung.

His numbers with New England peaked during the 2010 season, when he recorded a combined 23 tackles ‘€“ 15 solo ‘€“ and two stuffs in 13 games played. His next highest tackle total was eight during his rookie year. Rounding things out, he forced one fumble in 2011, and did not have a sack with the Patriots in any of his four years.

With this latest release of a player by the Patriots from the 2009 draft class, here’€™s a quick look at some other names New England could have selected over Brace.

Defensive linemen:

Connor Barwin (Round 2, Pick 46) ‘€“ The Texans took Barwin from Cincinnati six picks after Brace. In Houston, Barwin has excelled as both a linebacker and defensive end, notching 105 career tackles with 18 sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, and 16 passes deflected.

Paul Kruger (Round 2, Pick 57) ‘€“ Kruger has had a steady career with the Ravens, recording 68 tackles, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions, 14.5 sacks, and 12 passes defensed. Kruger was part of a Ravens defense that terrorized the league back in 2009 and 2010.

Michael Johnson (Round 3, Pick 70) ‘€“ Johnson was a freak athlete on the defensive line coming out of Georgia Tech, and has had a stellar career with the Bengals thus far, with 144 career tackles, 21 sacks, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and 16 passes defensed. Johnson has gotten progressively better each season, with 15.5 of his 21.5 career sacks coming in his last two seasons. 

Notable names:

Jairus Byrd (Round 2, Pick 42) ‘€“ The Bills took Byrd, Chung’€™s partner safety at Oregon, two picks after Brace. Looking at the Patriots’€™ secondary now, Byrd would have been a welcome addition. With 303 tackles, 18 career interceptions, 10 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, and two defensive touchdowns, Byrd has been the better of the two Oregon safeties selected that year.

LeSean McCoy (Round 2, Pick 53) ‘€“ McCoy really broke out in 2011 with 1,309 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns with the Eagles. Philly is having a down year in 2012, and McCoy certainly isn’€™t the exception on that team. Rookie Bryce Brown has earned his way into some playing time while McCoy sat with a concussion earlier this year, but when healthy McCoy can be an elite back in the NFL.

Shonn Greene (Round 3, Pick 65) ‘€“ Yes, he’€™s a Jet. No, his career in New York hasn’€™t been nearly as monumental as his senior season at Iowa. But in 2008 when Greene rushed for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns, it sure looked like he could be the next elite back in the league. He averaged 142.3 rushing yards per game with the Hawkeyes that season – good for second in the nation and best in the Big Ten. With the Jets, Greene has rushed for 3,349 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Mike Wallace (Round 3, Pick 84) ‘€“ The Steelers took the speedy Wallace out of Ole Miss in the third round, and Wallace has since emerged as one of the best downfield receivers in the league, if not the best. He’€™s over the 4,000-yard receiving mark in his four-year career, complimented with 32 touchdowns. His rookie season was the only one in which Wallace did not catch more than 100 passes.

Lardarius Webb (Round 3, Pick 88) ‘€“ Webb, like Kruger, has been an integral part of the Ravens defense over the past four years. Since hindsight is 20/20, it’€™s easy to say that Webb would have been the star on this Patriots secondary unit had he been selected by New England. Webb has eight career interceptions, 181 tackles and one defensive touchdown out of little-known Nicholls State from the Southland Conference.

Brian Hartline (Round 4, Pick 108) ‘€“ It’€™s not exactly difficult to break out as the best receiver on the current Dolphins receiving core, but Hartline has done it with somewhat of a notable cause. He’€™s recorded 2,684 career receiving yards and six touchdowns with four different quarterbacks throwing to him over the course of his four-year career.

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