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Ranking Bill Belichick's best NFL Draft picks 

Bill Belichick has unearthed numerous gems in the NFL Draft
Bill Belichick has unearthed numerous gems in the NFL Draft
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Chris Winterburn

Bill Belichick’s legacy as the head coach of the New England Patriots will be the number of Super Bowl championships won during his tenure.

However, en route to those titles, there have been some sensational players that the former New York Giants assistant plucked out of the NFL Draft, and in some cases relative obscurity, before turning them into stars in the NFL.

It would be impossible to list every NFL Draft success story from Belichick’s 22-year spell with the Pats; however, we can rank some of his very best draft selections.

Who are Bill Belichick’s best NFL Draft picks?

8. Asante Samuel - 2003 (Round 4 Pick 120)

Asante Samuel was an interception machine in the backfield
Asante Samuel was an interception machine in the backfield

Bill Belichick has an unbelievable ability to source value in the later rounds of the draft. This is why he often trades down in the first-round.

Often amassing more picks in the later rounds, Belichick can utilize his board to bring players in who he feels will be a strong fit in New England.

Asante Samuel is one such example, drafted in the fourth-round of the 2003 NFL Draft after a career with the UCF Knights at the collegiate level.

Samuel became one of the best defensive backs of the modern era, recording a grand total of 22 interceptions in the five years he spent with the Pats.

In the 2006 season, he led the league with 10 interceptions and 24 passes defended, starring as the best defensive back in football.

He was also part of two Super Bowl winning teams, highlighting the value and talent to be had beyond the opening night of the draft.

7. Jamie Collins – 2013 (Round 2 Pick 52)

Collins would shine for the Pats in three different spells
Collins would shine for the Pats in three different spells

Another player who wasn’t selected in the first-round of the draft was Jamie Collins, a linebacker out of Southern Mississippi.

He would play for the Patriots for six seasons in total over the course of three stints, with coaches turning him into one of the standouts in his position.

In 2014, 2016 and 2019, Collins would finish each campaign with multiple sacks and interceptions, which is a rarity at the position. All three of these years were spent in New England.

Collins has made a grand total of 253 career tackles, was voted into the Pro Bowl once and won a single Super Bowl title which came with the Pats in 2014.

6. Devin McCourty – 2010 (Round 1 Pick 27)

Some players like McCourty just earn Belichick's respect
Some players like McCourty just earn Belichick's respect

McCourty is an example of a player who slips in the first-round, and Belichick senses the opportunity to take a player that should probably have already been off the board.

Having been a standout freshman at Rutgers, McCourty was ranked as the fourth-best cornerback prospect heading into the NFL Draft.

McCourty has been with the Patriots ever since, becoming a defensive stalwart for the franchise and winning three Super Bowl championships.

You can tell a player has the respect and admiration of Belichick due to the fact that they are offered a contract extension at their positional worth.

That has been the case with McCourty, who has been able to switch to free safety at times, with the Pats offering him multiple contract extensions rather than trying to replace him in the draft.

Throughout McCourty’s 12-season long career in New England, he has never played fewer than 14 games in a single season. He hasn’t missed a single start since 2015, proving to be one of the most reliable players Bill has ever drafted.

5. Julian Edelman – 2009 (Round 7 Pick 232)

0nly Belichick would take a QB in round 7 and turn him into a receiving star
0nly Belichick would take a QB in round 7 and turn him into a receiving star

Edelman was a shock pick by Belichick in 2009 because there wasn't a specific plan for him immediately.

Belichick saw something in the seventh-round selection and wanted him in the building to grab a closer look, rather than wait for the lottery of free-agency.

This proved to be a masterstroke, as Edelman would become one of the greatest receivers to ever represent the franchise, after a position change once the Patriots coaching staff saw his talent as a special teams threat.

He was a college quarterback, playing at Kent State, yet by 2013, he was a guaranteed starter in New England’s offense.

Edelman won three Super Bowl championships, becoming one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets, even winning the MVP award in Super Bowl LIII.

Intersting note via @MikeReiss on NE’s draft underinvestment at WR:* Only 18 WRs picked in 22 Bill Belichick drafts* 5th fewest WR picked since 2000* 1/3 have been 7th rounders* One 1st rounderWith WR salaries spiking, it’s time for Belichick to throw more draft darts. twitter.com/MikeReiss/stat…

Despite never making a Pro Bowl, mainly due to perfectly sacrificing his own numbers for the good of the team, Edelman received over 1,000 yards in three of his seasons with the Pats before retiring in 2020.

4. Vince Wilfork – 2004 (Round 1 Pick 21)

Belichick has become a master at picking late in the 1st round
Belichick has become a master at picking late in the 1st round

Selected late in the first-round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Vince Wilfork was one of Belichick’s better defensive picks.

Having to fill a rare immediate hole in the Patriots’ roster following the departure of Ted Washington, Wilfork proved that, once again, the coach was right.

Fans didn’t necessarily agree with the decision to hasten Washington’s departure; however, a decade of Wilfork later earned Bill even more trust from the fans.

Wilfork’s size made him a dominant tackler, especially against the run, and he was named to the Pro Bowl on five occasions.

He was part of two Super Bowl winning efforts, and Belichick was rewarded for taking a chance on a player that was written off as being too inconsistent with on-field effort.

3. Richard Seymour – 2001 (Round 1 Pick 6)

Belichick selected Seymour to set the defensive culture in New England
Belichick selected Seymour to set the defensive culture in New England

Richard Seymour going sixth overall is the highest the Patriots have ever drafted since Bill Belichick took over as head coach.

Seymour would set the tone for the defense the former Cleveland Browns head coach was trying to assemble.

He wanted clever athletes who were tough and could give the team an advantage at certain key positions.

Seymour was a lightning quick defensive tackle and could get to the quarterback almost like an outside linebacker.

He went to the Pro Bowl seven times and won three Super Bowls in New England.

It was an eight-season career for Seymour in New England before Belichick decided there were cheaper alternatives available and traded him to the Oakland Raiders.

In that time, he was able to amass almost 40 sacks and is a full member of the Patriots’ Hall of Fame, with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame coming in 2022.

2. Rob Gronkowski – 2010 (Round 2 Pick 42)

Gronkowski was the tight end Belichick always wanted
Gronkowski was the tight end Belichick always wanted

Gronkowski was a first-round talent who missed his entire junior year at Arizona due to back surgery.

At such a physical position like tight end, NFL teams were scared off and he slid into the second-round… but not Belichick.

His inner radar for value kicked in and he selected Gronkowski with the 42nd pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Yet another Hall of Fame career followed, with Gronkowski becoming the first ever tight end to lead the league in receiving touchdowns back in the 2011 season.

He has won four Super Bowls and been to the Pro Bowl five times, while he has the most career touchdowns in the playoffs for a tight end.

Gronkowski may have left New England under a cloud before coming out of retirement to play in Tampa Bay, but he benefited greatly from the environment the former Bill Parcells-student has cultivated in Foxboro.

We’ll never see another tight end like Gronkowski, one with the build and physicality of a lineman but with the playmaking skills of a receiver.

Furthermore, it’s only due to the presence of a complete anomaly in the form of a certain #12, that Gronkowski can’t be considered Bill Belichick’s greatest ever draft pick.

1. Tom Brady – 2000 (Round 6 Pick 199)

Tom, you're going to need the other hand
Tom, you're going to need the other hand

Tom Brady will retire as the most decorated player to ever play in the NFL, whilst he will also retire as the player many consider to be the greatest to ever play in the league.

His career started all the way back at the turn of the millennium as a lowly-regarded sixth-round draft selection, who had impressed the coach with his ability to play in front of sizable crowds at Michigan.

A draft steal would be an understatement to describe Belichick’s capture of Brady… history will describe it as more of a draft day heist.

Tom Brady won six Super Bowl championships in New England, the one constant throughout all of Belichick’s success with the Patriots, and he has been the MVP of the Super Bowl five times.

A three-time NFL MVP award winner, Brady has been to the Pro Bowl 15 times since taking over as the starting quarterback in his second professional season.

This pick was once again a result of the New England coach seeing a sort of intangible talent in a player and getting him in the building before anyone else could polish the diamond.

You can’t necessarily put down the success of the New England Patriots solely down to either one of Brady or Belichick, but working in tandem there wasn’t a more formidable partnership.

Tom Brady just wants his combine photo deleted 😂(via @TomBrady) https://t.co/BOCvLJ6KQu

Brady is still playing to this day, coming out of a very brief retirement to return to Tampa, but the man with almost every QB record in the book made his name in New England.

A chance was taken on him, the coach gave him the opportunity to succeed and Brady subsequently ran with it.

This single draft pick turned the Patriots into the dynasty we now see them as, whilst it has to go down as Belichick’s greatest ever draft success story, once again showing the best finds aren’t necessarily the most obvious.

Edited by Windy Goodloe
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