As hard as it may be to imagine, since 2014 the Cleveland Browns have hit on more of their first and second round draft picks than the New England Patriots. At first read, this statement seems asinine. After all, how can such a great football dynasty that has dominated the NFL for 20 years, have a worse drafting history over the last four years than arguably the worst football team over the last twenty years. While the Browns have had new Head Coaches along with constant revamps of their front office and scouting department, the Patriots have remained consistent. Head Coach Bill Belichick has been at the head of New England’s dynasty since 2000 and has established a historical winning culture through mentality, great drafting, new schemes and of course, Hall Of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. However, perhaps the years are finally catching up to the future Hall Of Fame duo. This season, Brady has looked all of 41 and is having a very average season at best. Part of this is due to age but part of it also has to do with a lack of talented offensive players around the quarterback and a lack of a shutdown defense. Head Coach and General Manager, Bill Belichick is to blame for the lack of talent on the 2018 Patriots team. Belichick has either let talented players walk out the door, refusing to pay them, or traded them for draft picks that he has wasted away. New England’s talent problem stems from the fact that Belichick has failed to replace the talent he has let go. In fact, the job he has done trying to replace talent has been so egregious that the garbage can Cleveland Browns have done a better job at drafting talent in the last four years than New England.
Patriots’ 2014 High Round Picks:
New England took a chance with their 2014 first round pick with the selection of defensive end Dominique Easley with the 29th pick. Easley did not last long with New England and was soon shown the door after not being able to stay healthy and having little to no impact. The Patriots did however, hit on their second round pick in 2014 with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo looked to be the next franchise quarterback for New England, but a few cat fights later landed Jimmy G in a trade with the 49ers and he is no longer with the Patriots.
Browns’ 2014 High Round Picks:
The Browns had two first rounds picks in the 2014 draft and hit on neither of them. Cleveland took cornerback Justin Gilbert 8th overall and quarterback Johnny Manziel with the 22nd overall pick. Neither player made an impact for the Browns or for any other team in the NFL and both players were moved out of the Browns organization labeled as “busts”. Despite whiffing on both first rounders, the Browns hit on their second round pick with guard Joel Bitonio. Bitonio has been a pro bowl level player and signed a huge contract extension with the Browns guaranteeing his future in Cleveland.
Patriots’ 2015 High Round Picks:
In the first round of the 2015 draft, the Patriots selected defensive tackle Malcolm Brown out of Texas. Brown looked to be a solid pick at the time and was supposed to be the next great rock in the middle of Belichick’s defense. Four years later, the pick has been a horrendous bust. Brown has been an absolute highway this season in the middle and is borderline unplayable. While Brown is still on the Patriots’ roster, he will move on this offseason. In the second round, New England took safety Jordan Richards. Richards was a raw player out of college and proved that he did not belong in the NFL. The Patriots moved on from Richards before the start of this season.
Browns’ 2015 High Round Picks:
Like the previous year, the Browns again had two first round picks that they yet again wasted. Cleveland took defensive tackle Danny Shelton 12th overall and tackle Cameron Erving 19th overall. Shelton was okay his first two years with the Browns but was traded away last offseason to New England where he has not made any impact whatsoever. Erving was a basket case from the start and he did not last long in Cleveland. With their second round pick, the Browns selected defensive end Nate Orchard. Orchard was an okay depth piece for the Browns but he never developed well or made a true impact and was cut by the Browns before the start of this season.
Patriots’ 2016 High Round Picks:
Unfortunately, New England was stripped of their 2016 first round pick after they were caught cheating. However, their second round pick was cornerback Cyrus Jones out of Alabama. Jones was another good looking prospect out of a high powered Nick Saban defense. Jones suffered a knee injury that ended his rookie season and effectively his NFL career. Jones never made an impact on the field and had punt fumble issues. The Patriots parted ways with Jones earlier this season.
Browns’ 2016 High Round Picks:
The Browns hit on none of their 2016 high round picks. Cleveland took wide receiver Corey Coleman from Baylor 15th overall. Coleman showed flashes but never lived up to his potential and the Browns let the former first rounder go earlier this season. In the second round, the Browns took defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. While Ogbah is still on the Browns’ never panned out as a quality NFL player.
Patriots’ 2017 High Round Picks:
In 2017, the Patriots had an interesting strategy with their draft picks. They traded away their high round draft picks for somewhat established NFL players. They sent their first round pick to New Orleans for wide receiver Brandin Cooks. While Cooks had a decent statistical year last season, he never meshed quite right and was traded to the Rams last offseason for a first round pick. Cooks goes down as a bust as he was only here for one season and did not contribute to any sort of Super Bowl title. The Patriots got lucky and were able to recoup a first rounder for Cooks, but they would have been better off simply keeping their 2017 first rounder. New England also traded away their second round pick to Carolina for defensive end Kony Ealy. Ealy was a mess in New England and did not make it out of training camp, effectively wasting yet another second round pick.
Browns’ 2017 High Round Picks:
The Browns hit on all three of their first round picks in 2017. Cleveland took defensive end Myles Garrett first overall, safety Jabrill Peppers 25th overall and tight end David Njoku 29th overall. Garrett is an absolute beast and has developed into one of the best pass rushers in the league. Peppers struggled his rookie season but has since proved that he is a quality safety in the NFL and should continue to develop further. Njoku is a freak athlete at the tight end position and looks to be one of the better up and coming tight ends in the league. Despite hitting on three first round talents, the Browns whiffed on their second round pick with quarterback DeShone Kizer. Kizer played okay during his rookie season and showed some promising potential, but he was traded to the Packers this past offseason to backup Aaron Rodgers.
Patriots’ 2018 High Round Picks:
Although it may be too early to label these picks busts, it looks as if New England only hit on one of their first round picks this year. The Patriots took tackle Isaiah Wynn 23rd overall and running back Sony Michel 31st overall. Wynn suffered a season ending injury earlier this year and New England, yet again, got no production from a high round pick. Michel has played well this season and despite his lack of athletic burst that first round backs typically have, Michel has proven to be a quality NFL runner that should develop with more experience. In the second round, the Patriots took cornerback Duke Dawson. Dawson, like Wynn, suffered an injury that sidelined the rookie for half the season. While Dawson has been promoted to the active roster, he has yet to play or make any sort of impact. As of now, Dawson is a bust.
Browns’ 2018 High Round Picks:
The Browns yet again had multiple first round picks and yet again hit on both. Cleveland took quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick and cornerback Denzel Ward 4th overall. Mayfield is in the running for offensive rookie of the year and he has looked like the next face of the NFL. Ward has been consistently good this season and is by far the best rookie corner in the league. Ward and Mayfield look to have multiple pro bowls written all over them. In the second round, the Browns took guard Austin Corbett and running back Nick Chubb. Corbett has not flashed this season and looks to be a bust so far. Chubb on the other hand has looked great since being given more snaps. Chubb shows talent in the running game as well as the passing game and will only improve further as he ages.
In total, the Patriots have had ten picks throughout the first two rounds since 2014 and have hit on just two of these selections. New England has had a whopping 20% success rate when it comes to hitting on early round talent and it is now catching up with them. Comparably, one of the worst franchises in recent NFL history has had a higher draft success rate in the first two rounds since 2014 then arguably the best football dynasty of all time. Cleveland has had sixteen picks throughout the first two rounds in the last four years and have hit on eight of them. The Browns have an impressive 50% success rate with early round picks which blows the Patriots’ success rate out of the water. The lack of young talented players on the Patriots’ roster and brash attitude of unwillingness to pay talented veterans has seemingly caught up to New England and although they made the playoffs this season, the Patriots’ Super Bowl dynasty is over.