Patriots Draft Trends: Speed Valued In Surprise Safety Selections

The New England Patriots don’t need safety help heading into the offseason, which likely means they’ll select one anyway in the early rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Patriots have picked 12 safeties since Bill Belichick was hired in 2000, including four in the past four drafts. Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner, Duron Harmon and Jordan Richards all were surprise picks and considered reaches at the time of their selections.

— The Patriots haven’t taken a safety with a three-cone drill slower than 7.12 seconds since 2003. They’ve drafted just two safeties with 40-yard dash times over 4.6 seconds.

— The Patriots have taken one safety in the first round, four in the second round, two in the third round, two in the fourth round and three in the bottom half of the draft.

— Patriots safeties are typically shorter and lighter than the NFL average.

— Patriots safeties are faster than the NFL average, but they have average agility (three-cone), lateral quickness (short shuttle) and explosion (broad jump).

— Patriots safeties jump more than an inch higher than the average NFL safety.

Harmon, Richards, Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty are under contract for the 2016 season, and Ebner is likely to be back as an unrestricted free agent. The Patriots also could bring back Wilson, who’s also a free agent. Former University of Minnesota safeties Cedric Thompson and Brock Vereen were signed to future contracts after the 2015 season.

The Patriots could elect to draft another safety late in the 2016 NFL Draft if they feel they need additional depth. They already have their starters (McCourty and Chung) and top reserves (Harmon and Richards) in place. will go position by position to analyze the Patriots’ draft trends prior to this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. Look through our cornerbackrunning backlinebacker, wide receiverdefensive endoffensive line, defensive tackle and tight end trends.

Thumbnail photo via Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Sep 20, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Duron Harmon (30) runs with the ball after he intercepts a pass as Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) pursues during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

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