A Look At Pioli’s Record/Part 1

There are four different avenues that produce players for NFL teams.

There is unrestricted free agency, street free agents or players that have failed with another team and college free agents.

But the biggest pipeline is the NFL Draft.

There is no question that the Super Bowl success of the New England Patriots was built on draft picks. Just about all their key performers came through selections made by Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli (left).

Not a lot is known about just how the Patriots operated in the draft room, but we know Belichick had the final say so. We also know he had a great deal of faith in Pioli and his scouts’ ability to match college players with what Belichick was looking for on his roster. There was most definitely a plan, and most definitely a template for physical characteristics and skills at certain positions.

A team that takes advantage of the draft does two things: it does not make mistakes at the top of the draft and it finds gems in the later rounds, players who make contributions despite being selected late in the process. For the most part, the Patriots did both and that allowed them to win three Super Bowls.

Here’s the list of players the Patriots drafted from 2000-2004.

Here’s the list of players the Patriots drafted from 2005-2008.

And here are some items of interest that come out of analyzing the 77 players the Patriots have selected in the 2000 through 2008 NFL Drafts:

– New England’s average pick in the first round over the last nine years was No. 20.¬†¬†There were no picks in the top five and only two in the top 10 and three in the top half of the draft.¬† Because of their success, they normally held draft positions late¬†in rounds.¬† They had just 14 picks in the top 50 and 26 in the top 100.

– The Patriots did not use picks on small college players. Of those 77 selected, 74 were from major college teams/Division 1. Two were from what used to be called Division 1-AA and they drafted just one small college player: TE Andy Stokes, who was the final player taken in the 2005 Draft out of William Penn University, a NAIA school.

– Not only did the Patriots zero in on major college talent, they looked especially hard at the major conferences. Of those 77 players, 55 were taken from schools in the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big 10, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conferences, along with Notre Dame. The Big 12 and SEC led the way with 12 players each.

– Belichick-Pioli hit on their No. 1 picks, as eight of the nine are still with the team. The only one missing is 2002 first-rounder Daniel Graham, who left as a free agent and signed with Denver after five seasons in New England. The remaining eight are all starters for the Patriots: RDE Richard Seymour, LDE Ty Warren, NT Vince Wilfork, TE Ben Watson, LG Logan Mankins, RB Laurence Maroney, S Brandon Meriweather and LB Jerod Mayo.

– As good as they were in the first round, New England was bad in the second round. They had eight choices in that round in nine years, and only two remain with the team: starting left tackle Matt Light and rookie cornerback Terrence Wheatley, who finished the season on the injured-reserve list after playing in seven games

– The Patriots had what could be called the greatest value pick of the decade when they grabbed quarterback Tom Brady with choice No. 199 in the sixth round of the 2000 Draft. Brady went on to become quite possibly the greatest clutch quarterback in the history of the game, leading the team to three Super Bowls.

– They may have done it again with seventh-round choice quarterback Matt Cassel, who came in and replaced the injured Brady in the ’08 season opener against the Chiefs and went on to a remarkable season for a quarterback who had not been a starter since high school.

– In nine drafts, the highest quarterback selection for the Patriots came in the ’08 Draft when they took quarterback Kevin O’Connell in the third round with the 94th pick. Only five of the other 31 teams in the league have not drafted a quarterback higher than the 94th spot: Indianapolis, New Orleans, Carolina, Tampa Bay and St. Louis. Some have taken more than one quarterback higher than No. 94.

– As good as the Patriots have been at finding quarterbacks, that’s how bad they’ve been in finding and keeping wide receivers. They’ve drafted six, including a trio of second-round picks. One of those was just two years ago, when they grabbed Florida’s Chad Jackson, but they released him at the end of the ’08 pre-season. Of the six wide receivers on the roster at the end of the ’08 season, only one came through the draft: rookie Matthew Slater. Their two starters, Randy Moss and Wes Welker, cost them second, fourth and seventh round picks.

– New England invested a lot of early draft choices along the defensive line, with three first-round picks and one second-rounder among 11 total picks. They only used three early choices along the offensive line, with one first and a pair of second-round choices.

– They selected eight tight ends in nine drafts, including a pair of first-round choices. That’s more first round tight ends than first round quarterbacks/running backs/wide receivers combined.

– Their favorite positions in the draft were linebacker and cornerback, where they’ve selected 10 players each.

8 Responses to “A Look At Pioli’s Record/Part 1”

  • January 14, 2009  - ScottL says:

    Time Check: 12:01 a.m. CST, Wednesday, January 14, 2009…and yup, Herm’s STILL barely got a job!

    See you in the unemployment line in 2009 Herm!

    Keep up the great work Mr. Pioli. ALL of KC is behind you and we know that you will lead us back to glory very soon now when you fire Herm’s dumb ass.

    AND NOW, Clark Hunt has RE-RE-affirmed Herm’s a loser!

    heh heh heh


  • January 14, 2009  - Eli says:

    I’m very interested to see how things get shaken up in the next few weeks. The puzzle pieces will all start to fall into place once we get a head coach and coordinators hired. I bet that all happens pretty quickly.

    This draft could end up being huge, especially if Pioli ends up dealing LJ and TG.

    I have a funny feeling that no matter what Tony Gonzalez says, Pioli will re-sign him to another big deal. I don’t think Pioli wants to make one of his first few decisions be to run Tony Gonzalez out of town… just a thought.

    Go Linebacker Pioli! Get Malualuga!!!

  • January 14, 2009  - Hendrix says:

    gotta love herm. just gotta. not for the lack of winning, not for the lack of player development, not for the maybe good maybe not so good (2006-2007) drafts, not for the poor game management, not for the repeated blamin of the players for lack of winning, but for bringing change to KC. no more Carl, and soon to be no more Herm. a new leader in Pioli, and hopefully a new winning attitude. gotta hand it to Herm, didnt due much on the field but caused a whole lotta change off the field. for that i AM thankful we signed Herm and i really do with him luck. just let it be elsewhere.

  • January 14, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Time check: 2:28 a.m. CST, Wednesday, January 14, 2009 . . . and yup, Herm’s STILL The Man!

    Read ‘em and weep – Herm Edwards, Head Coach KC Chiefs 2009! heh heh heh


  • January 14, 2009  - NJ Chief says:

    You’ve highlighted some very interesting points – especially regarding how Pioli & Belichick have gone about drafting QB’s in the past. I wonder if Mr. Pioli will follow the same protocol with the Chiefs and not gamble on a QB early, but take one later in the draft?
    Maybe he’ll look to trade Larry Johnson for Matt Cassel?

    Go Chiefs!

  • January 14, 2009  - arrowhead78 says:

    The Pats wouldn’t take that trade LJ for Cassell, come on now… I think that the pats drafts of the last 3 years aren’t as good as the chiefs have did in the past three years. I could be wrong but the chiefs have actually had decent picks since Herm got here, way better then Vermiels picks…

    Did you read the article by the way? Belichick had the final say in who got drafted and who didn’t, I think that it’s good that the chiefs finally got a GM, hope they didn’t pay to much for someone who was hanging on to someone’s coat tail…

    The chiefs can win without LJ, they can’t win without Gonzo, I shouldn’t say can’t, but it will make it alot harder…

    Also, I really hope they dont switch the D to a 3-4. They need to draft a DE in the first round, or trade down and get another o-lineman that can play C or RT… Then grab a LB in the second round with the extra picks they get from trading there first rounder away…

  • January 14, 2009  - Big Lee says:

    Interesting stuff to be sure-But KC cannot go headlong into the 3-4 unless we spend a bunch of that cap space on our front 7. Dorsey is not a 3-4 noseguard, although he might be a great 3-tech DT. May need to trade him. We need a massive NG, and we need a bunch of LBs.

    We can’t overpay for him, but Cassel would be great in a KC uni. But will Brady be ready in 2009? That will affect whether Pats put franchise tag on Cassel.

    One of the KC writers said earlier the Chiefs job was the best one out there, with patient ownership, a great fanbase, and plenty of cap space. Pioli was smart enough to figure that out.

  • January 14, 2009  - NJ Chief says:

    Have you read anything else regarding Pioli’s past success by the way?

    Belichick may have had the final say on all draft picks, but Pioli played a major role in scouting & matching talent to the Pats system. You just have to read the parting comments Belichick had regarding Pioli to understand how integral he was to their success over the last 9 years.

    Come on now, I threw the LJ for Cassel trade comment out as wishful thinking more than anything. But it’s really not that far fetched (assuming Brady is healthy in ’09). The Pats traded a 2nd round pick for Cory Dillon several years ago when he was considered an overworked, aging RB with an attitude problem in Cincy.

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