|Worst draft picks of Bill Belichick era, 2015 edition||04.29.15 at 8:27 pm ET|
We ran down the 20 best draft picks of the Bill Belichick era on Tuesday, and in the interest of equal time, here’s our look at the 12 worst picks since 2000.
Like our list of requirements for making the “best of” list, there are certain guidelines when it comes to measuring a truly bad pick. Obviously, production is the primary measuring stick, but unfulfilled promise also figures heavily. Frankly, if you’re a seventh-round selection who washes out, it’s no harm, no foul. As such, you won’t see anyone many late picks on this list. If someone taken in the first 100 overall selections goes bust, it’s a different matter altogether.
12. Kevin O’Connell (3rd round, 94th overall, 2008): The Patriots go after a quarterback every spring, and in 2008, O’Connell was their guy. He certainly looked the part, and considering his college career, appeared to be the type who might be able to succeed at the next level. But by his own admission, he simply was overwhelmed when he got to the NFL. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder spent only one year with the Patriots, playing in two regular-season games and going 4-for-6 for 23 yards. However, he was quickly supplanted by undrafted free agent Brian Hoyer, and ended up spending time with the Lions, Jets and Dolphins. He’s currently the quarterbacks coach with the Browns.
11. Laurence Maroney (1st round, 21st overall, 2006): In hindsight, maybe we were a little hard on old Kool-Aid the first time we put this list together back in 2013. (We had him at No. 3.) I mean, he should be here, but still, he did have some quality production while with the Patriots, including a two-year stretch where he had 1,580 rushing yards, a 4.4 yards per carry average and 12 touchdowns. Ultimately, however, the numbers are more representative of a mid-round pick, not a guy who was taken in the top 25.
10. Ron Brace (2nd round, 40th overall, 2009): The 6-foot-3, 330-pound Bay State native played four seasons with the Patriots, but was mostly relegated to rotational duty up front as he struggled to stay on the field with occasional health issues. He ended up playing 39 regular-season games with New England and registering 24 tackles, and never developed into the consistent presence the Patriots hoped he could become.
9. Taylor Price (3rd round, 90th overall, 2010): The Ohio product started from a negative position — because of a weird academic quirk, he wasn’t allowed to take part in New England’s OTAs until he graduated — so it appeared he was always trying to catch up throughout the summer. But for whatever reason, the 6-foot, 204-pound Price just never seemed to click with the quarterback, as Tom Brady was clearly lukewarm on him from the jump. A perennial breakout candidate for most of his two seasons in New England, he caught just three passes for 41 yards in four regular-season games. He was cut loose by the Patriots in 2011 and connected with Jacksonville.
8. David Thomas (3rd round, 86th overall, 2006): Coming out of Texas, the 6-foot-3, 240-pounder had an impressive pedigree, but he never seemed to mesh with the New England offense in his three seasons with the Patriots — he had 21 catches for 261 yards and a touchdown in 32 regular-season games in a New England uniform. He eventually won a ring as a backup tight end in New Orleans, and he caught a career-best 35 passes for 356 yards and a touchdown in 2009 with the Saints.
7. Jermaine Cunningham (2nd round, 53rd overall, 2010): The love affair between Belichick and Cunningham has been well-documented — Urban Meyer tried to steer Belichick to another one of the defensive players, but the Patriots coach kept coming back to Cunningham. In the end, it was not to be between Cunningham and the Patriots. The 6-foot-2, 248-pounder ended up sticking around Foxboro for three seasons and occasionally showed flashes of talent, but ended with 43 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 36 regular-season games with the Patriots.
6. Terrence Wheatley (2nd round, 62nd overall, 2008) and Jonathan Wilhite (4th round, 129th overall, 2008): These two were intertwined — both cornerbacks who were part of the same draft class, they both got off to good starts in New England, only to hit the wall shortly after and never recover. Wheatley lasted two seasons and 11 full games with the Patriots before getting the boot — he fell off the radar screen after suffering a wrist injury midway through the year. He struggled to see the field in 2009, and then was injured again in the preseason the following year, which ultimately led to his release during the season. Meanwhile, Wilhite got three years with New England, and had slightly better numbers (three picks, seven passes defensed in 39 games) before spending a fourth season with the Broncos.
5. Bethel Johnson (2nd round, 45th overall, 2003): When he was right, he was an electrifying presence — he returned a pair of kicks for touchdowns and averaged 15 yards a reception — but was so wildly inconsistent he ended up being given away after three seasons for defensive lineman Jonathan Sullivan, who was promptly cut by New England. He had 30 catches for 450 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver, and returned a pair of kicks for touchdowns while averaging 25.1 yards per chance with the Patriots.
|Jets sign Ras-I Dowling to the practice squad||10.23.13 at 10:41 am ET|
Former Patriots second-round pick Ras-I Dowling has a new home. The Jets signed the cornerback to their practice squad on Wednesday morning.
Dowling, who was chosen in the 2011 NFL draft, played two games for the Patriots in the 2011 season before injuring his hip in Week 2 against San Diego. On Oct. 29, 2011, the Patriots placed him on injured reserve, ending his season.
Dowling seemed to be on track and healthy in the summer of 2012 but on Oct. 26, 2012, he was placed on injured reserve with a torn thigh muscle, ending his 2012 season.
Dowling did not have an apparent injury this summer during training camp but on Aug. 28, 2013, the Patriots released Dowling as part of their roster cutdown to 75. Over two seasons, Dowling had 10 tackles, no interceptions and no sacks.
Dowling attended the University of Virginia. As a freshman in 2007, Dowling played in 12 games recording 44 tackles and two interceptions. As a sophomore in 2008 he started nine of 11 games. He finished the season with 43 tackles and a team leading three interceptions.
In 2009, Dowling was voted All-ACC second team. He was also awarded ACC Defensive Player of the week vs. Indiana with nine tackles and the first sack of his career. He ended the season with three interceptions. Dowling was voted 2010 Pre-season All-ACC selection and second team All-American for the first time in his career.
Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports Dowling had workouts with the Texans and Chiefs before signing with the Jets on Wednesday.
|Patriots cut cornerback Ras-I Dowling||08.28.13 at 4:50 pm ET|
The Patriots have released cornerback Ras-I Dowling. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Dowling, who was the first pick of the second round of the 2011 draft, has struggled with injury in his two seasons in the NFL, having ended both seasons on injured reserve. His best year was 2012, when he played in seven games and finished with seven tackles and one pass defensed.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Patriots practice Monday: Danny Amendola misses his first practice||08.19.13 at 2:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After catching six passes for 71 yards and a 26-yard touchdown grab on Friday night against Tampa Bay, wide receiver Danny Amendola was not spotted at the start of Patriots full pads practice on Monday outside Gillette Stadium.
The team is not required to announce practice reports until the season begins so there will be no official word from the Patriots if injury was the reason for the absence.
The injury-plagued Amendola is in his first season with the Patriots. He has played in just 12 of 32 games in the past two seasons, including nine starts.
Last October, Amendola suffered a dislocated clavicle. The clavicle popped in and came millimeters from puncturing his trachea and aorta, which could have killed him. Rams’ medical staff called around the league for information but no teams had ever had players suffering a similar injury.
Amendola was anesthetized before popping the clavicle back into place. He was able to recover after just three weeks and recorded 11 catches for 102 yards in a tie with the San Francisco 49ers.
Returning to the practice field Monday was corner back Ras-I Dowling after missing practice time last week and missing his second preseason game on Friday.
In a rookie hazing tradition, the grass at the far end of the practice field was soaked with a water hose to prepare for the annual slip-and-slide, when veterans spray the rookies as they run through and slide on the ground.
The Patriots will practice again on Tuesday before a walk-through Wednesday, after which the team leaves for Detroit and their third preseason game Thursday night against the Lions.
|Camp Confidential: At midway point of preseason, here are five up and five down for Patriots||08.18.13 at 11:56 am ET|
Two weeks into camp and with two preseason games complete, here’s a look at five players who are on the rise, and five players who need to have a good week to bounce back in the wake of Friday’s game against Tampa Bay.
Brandon Spikes: The electric linebacker, who is always interesting, gave the New England defense an early jolt on Friday night with some big plays. He was extremely disruptive in the running game — as usual — but also showed a nice flair for getting to the passer Friday night. While both of his sacks came on non-traditional pass rush situations, Spikes, who has one career regular-season sack, created havoc in the backfield which led to negative plays for the Bucs. He upended Doug “Muscle Hamster” Martin on one play where the undersized back tried to block him, and that ended up in a sack. He added another later in the first half. If he can continue his evolution from two-down linebacker to more of a complete threat (and stay healthy), he could be in for a truly great year.
Zach Sudfeld: The undrafted rookie out of Nevada has gone from anonymous free agent to quaint underdog story to someone who is continuing to put together consistent performances. He had a pair of catches Friday against Tampa, including a touchdown grab on a pass from Ryan Mallett and a reception from Tom Brady on a two-point conversion that was a really sweet pickup. While he still is a work-in-progress when it comes to his blocking on the NFL level, at this point, it would be unfathomable if he didn’t make the roster. He’ll face another challenge in his development next week against the Lions.
Tom Brady: Frankly. the quarterback has been stunning in his two preseason outings. In 39 snaps, he’s a combined 18-for-20 for 172 yards, two touchdowns and no picks — about as well as you could play, considering the massive turnover at the offensive skill positions. On Friday against Tampa, he orchestrated a masterful opening scoring drive that went 15 plays and 80 yards and took 6:48. Along the way, Brady and the Patriots were able to overcome a pair of penalties on the New England offensive line (Logan Mankins and Ryan Wendell), and ended up punching it in on an impressive 26-yard pass play from Brady to Danny Amendola. His performance must be taken with a grain of salt because the calendar hasn’t yet turned from August to September, but if there were any questions about his physical well-being (no problem with the left knee on Friday, his mental health (after losing his favorite target in Wes Welker) and overall passion for the game (just ask the offensive linemen who got cussed out after the penalties), the quarterback has left no doubt: He’s all in.
Logan Ryan: The rookie defensive back out of Rutgers continues to climb the depth chart, and had one of the best moments of the preseason for any first year player when he picked off a pass Friday night against the Bucs. It was similar to a situation in practice earlier in the week when he was able to read the play and jump the route, a nice play that displayed vision and ball skills. He’s not quite a starter, but he’s certainly done enough to rise to the level of backup, and a good, consistent series of practices — as well as two more good outings in the preseason — should cement a spot with the No. 2 defense on the depth chart by the start of the regular season.
Danny Amendola: While the rookies like Sudfeld, KenBrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce have gotten most of the headlines this summer for their work, Amendola has been the best and most consistent wide receiver for the team since the start of camp. He had an impressive outing in the Friday’s win over the Bucs, catching six passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. It’s clear that even though he and Brady are continuing to build chemistry, there’s no reason to think Amendola won’t catch at least 80 balls if he stays healthy.
|Patriots re-sign Matt Stankiewitch, Mike Zupancic, undecided on Tom Brady, prepare for Philadelphia||08.05.13 at 10:49 am ET|
FOXBORO — In preparation for joint practices this week in Philadelphia with the Eagles, the Patriots re-signed two players to fill their roster back to 90 players.
Bill Belichick announced Monday before the team’s ninth training camp practice that the team had re-signed center Matt Stankiewitch and long snapper Mike Zupancic.
Stankiewitch played for Penn State from 2008 to 2012, including a redshirt season in 2008. He started two games at left guard in 2009. In 2010, Stankiewitch played in six games before missing the rest of the season due to illness. He was able to remain healthy throughout 2011 and 2012, finishing his career having made 15 career starts at guard and 12 career starts at center.
The Patriots signed him as a rookie free agent on April 28, just after the draft.
A week later, on May 3, the team signed Zupancic as another undrafted free agent. Zupancic was released on Friday before the team brought him back on Monday.
The Patriots held practice Monday morning before preparing to leave for Philadelphia later in the day. Devin McCourty, who was back in a normal jersey for the first time during Saturday’s scrimmage, was back in a non-contact red jersey on Monday.
Three players, receiver Michael Jenkins, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon and defensive back Ras-I Dowling were not spotted on the field at the beginning of practice.
Belichick said the team had not decided yet just how much Tom Brady will quarterback the first unit in Friday night’s preseason opener in Philadelphia.
“We haven’t even had those discussions yet,” Belichick said. “We’ll have those discussions as we get closer to the game.”
“It was a great experience. I’ve never been there for that before,” Belichick said, referring to the fact that he has coached several times in the game but never been part of the induction ceremony and the gala that goes with it.
“I’d never been to that part of it. I’ve been through the Hall, although they’ve redone it. It was always great but it’s even better now. They’ve redone it and it’s very ‘ they have some amazing displays. Then we’ve played in the game a couple times or I’ve coached in the game I should say, a couple times but again, you’re there with your team and you’re kind of doing your thing so you’re not really part of that. So this is the first time I’ve ever been through that.”
|Friday camp notes: Pats shut down helmet-cam (for now) while Julian Edelman ‘has a long way to go’||08.02.13 at 3:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Like a new toy or fad, the quarterback helmet-cam was touted as the latest, greatest teaching tool in NFL training camps this summer.
The Patriots have used them for the first week but appear to be lukewarm to it and have not been using in the last couple of days.
Bill Belichick was asked about the benefit of the camera before Friday’s practice and why the team has not been using them.
“There’s a lot of different things that we use to try and help to teach our players, different ways to use instruction and gain information in practice, different camera angles, different things like that,” Belichick said.
“There’s some aspects of it that’s good. It certainly doesn’t give you the whole picture. I’ve coached 38 years without them. I don’t think it’s an absolute necessity but you’re always looking for something that will help you be a little bit better. Maybe it’s something that will help a guy or help you gain something. I think there’s a place in certain areas that they’re beneficial, other areas I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
“It depends on what you’re using them for, what you’re trying to get out of them,” Belichick said. “There are some things I think they can be helpful with. There are other things I’m not really sure how much that adds.”
Belichick on Julian Edelman‘s return Thursday to training camp practice after breaking his foot last December and having a subsequent setback:
“Long way to go. Been a long time since he played football. He’s got a long way to go,” Belichick said.
Asked if being around the team helps, as Edelman indicated Thurdsay, Belichick said, “I’m sure it helps some. It’s better that he’s been here and done some of the things and knows how to do them than not. But he still has a long way to go. Missed all of spring, missed all of training camp. He’s got a long way to go.”
Defensive lineman Jermaine Cunningham, defensive back Ras-I Dowling and offensive linemen Dan Connolly and Marcus Cannon were all missing on Thursday: “We have a lot of guys in the day-to-day category. We’ll go out there and see what they can do.”