Here are the New England Patriots all-time best draft picks at every position
As founding members of the AFL back in 1960, the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have been responsible for drafting some truly legendary players.
With the 2017 NFL Draft nearly upon us, the ESPN beat writers for each team are listing their choices for the greatest draft picks in team history at every major position. While great minds think alike on a few inarguable talents, we also definitely disagreed on several positions.
So with that in mind, here are my choices for the best Patriots draft pick in the history of the franchise at every position.
*Has to have played at least three seasons for New England to make the list*
Tom Brady (Michigan) - 2000 - 6th round - 199th overall
He's the greatest quarterback in NFL history and was taken with a compensatory selection at the end of the sixth round. This is probably the best draft pick of all time.
Curtis Martin (Pittsburgh) - 1995 - 3rd round - 74th overall
Martin was NFL Rookie of the Year in 1995, then lead the league in rushing yards nearly a decade later in 2004 with the Jets. He also rushed for 1,000+ yards in 10 of his 11 seasons and only missed 10 starts in that span, earning a reputation as one of the most reliable running backs ever. Martin was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
Irving Fryar (Nebraska) - 1984 - 1st round - 1st overall
Fryar had a pretty incredible career arc. He played 17 seasons for four different teams - but he didn't really hit his stride until 1991 when he recorded his first 1,000+ yard receiving season with the Patriots. That was the start of a seven year stretch - with the Pats then the Dolphins and then the Eagles - during which he caught 992 receptions for 7,506 yards and 44 touchdowns.
Rob Gronkowski (Arizona) - 2010 - 2nd round - 42nd overall
Despite constant battles with injuries, Gronkowski is already considered one of the greatest tight ends ever - holding multiple NFL records as well as Patriots franchise records. In just seven seasons, the two-time Super Bowl champion has likely already landed himself a future spot in the Hall of Fame.
Bruce Armstrong (Louisville) - 1987 - 1st round - 23rd overall
The six-time Pro Bowler played all 14 seasons of his career for the Patriots, starting in a record 212 games for the team in that time span - including a 1999 showing in which he finished the back half of the season with three torn ligaments in his right knee and was still named an alternate to the Pro Bowl. He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2001.
It's worth noting that he barely edged out Matt Light, who played his entire 12 season career with the Patriots - which included five Super Bowl appearances and three championships.
John Hannah (Alabama) - 1973 - 1st round - 4th overall
Before Tom Brady, Hannah was the gold standard for the New England Patriots - a point of pride for a team without much to be proud of. Hannah played 13 seasons for the Patriots, during which he racked up a list of accomplishments that cannot all be listed here. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, 10-time First-team All-Pro, and is considered to be one of the best offensive lineman off all time. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999 and was the inaugural inductee into the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Jon Morris (Holy Cross) - 1964 - 4th round - 24th overall (AFL)
Morris is old school, but his accomplishments still hold up. He played 11 seasons with the Boston/New England Patriots, appearing in every single game during that span. He was a seven-time AFL All-Star and was the first ever Patriots player to be selected to the NFL Pro Bowl. He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2011.
Andre Tippett (Iowa) - 1982 - 2nd round - 41st overall
Tippett's legend as an an all-time NFL player for the Patriots puts him in the same class as Hannah - a guy who fans were proud to call their own long before the team had become a dynasty. The strong-side linebacker set the record for most sacks over a two-year period with 35.0 beginning in 1984, earning him NFL Defensive Player of the Year and AFC Player of the Year in 1995. He also holds the franchise record for career sacks with 100, and currently serves as the Patriots' Executive Director of Community Affairs. Tippett was voted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1999 and was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
Willie McGinest (USC) - 1994 - 1st round - 4th overall
Despite his size, McGinest was a uniquely versatile end, often playing as an outside linebacker in Belichick's 3-4 system and eventually switching to full-time linebacker duties during the three seasons he spent with the Browns. McGinest was the anchor of the Patriots defense during their first Super Bowl dynasty in the early 2000's, and only Andre Tippett has more career sacks for the Patriots than his 86.0. He also holds the record for career postseason sacks with 16.0, and had five career interceptions. McGinest was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2015.
Vince Wilfork (Miami) - 2004 - 1st round - 24th overall
Wilfork was a revolution at nose tackle during his 11 seasons with the Patriots, going above and beyond the duties as the anchor of the line. With 16.0 sacks and three interceptions, he was more than just a big body to clog up the lane - and for a team that historically hasn't drafted long-serving talent at the defensive tackle position, Wilfork was a saving grace. He also appeared in four Super Bowls with the team, winning two championships.
Ty Law (Michigan) - 1995 - 1st round - 23rd overall
This was a hard one, since the Patriots also drafted Pro Football Hall of Famer and College Hall of Famer Mike Haynes. Perhaps I'm showing my age by giving the edge to a player more of my generation. Law won three Super Bowls with the Patriots in the early 2000's, went to five Pro Bowls and led the NFL in interceptions twice (1998 & 2005). He is a member of the Patriots Hall of Fame since 2014, and will likely be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame before all is said and done - as he was a top 15 finalist in 2017.
Devin McCourty (Rutgers) - 2010 - 1st round - 27th overall
This might be cheating, since he was drafted as a cornerback, but I don't much care. Upon switching to a hybrid safety in 2012, McCourty has provided the Patriots secondary the championship-caliber cornerstone it had lacked at the position in the years since Rodney Harrison's retirement. Because he's a former cornerback, he has an excellent eye for defending the pass, racking up the second-most passes defensed in Patriots history (42) as well as 10 interceptions for 150 yards. The two-time Pro Bowler has about as much claim to the two most recent Patriots Super Bowl titles as anyone on their defense.
Stephen Gostkowski (Memphis) - 2006 - 4th round - 118th overall
With, 1,457 points, Gostkowsi is the Patriots all-time scoring leader, improbably filling Adam Vinatieri's impossibly big shoes upon his departure for Indianapolis in 2006. Gostowski has been one of, if not the best kickers in the NFL for nearly his entire career - playing in four Super Bowls and winning two titles. He's certainly bound for Canton eventually.
Kevin Faulk (LSU) - 1999 - 2nd round - 46th overall
Faulk's 12,340 all-purpose yards and 5,041 combined punt and kick return yards for the Patriots are both franchise records. The running back spent his entire 13-year career in New England, winning three Super Bowls and contributing not just on special teams, but also as a very effective third-down receiving back. He had 31 career touchdowns and is 10th in the NFL in all-purpose yards since 1999.
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