Breaking Down Where Bill Belichick Finds His Patriots Draft Picks

With the 2019 NFL Draft set to begin next Thursday night in Nashville, Tenn., we decided to take a look back at the previous five drafts to answer a simple question:

Where do the New England Patriots find their draft picks?

Here’s what we found:

SEC: 13
ACC: 8
Big Ten: 5
Pac-12: 5
FCS (Ohio Valley, Missouri Valley, Southern): 4
Big 12: 2
C-USA: 1
AAC: 1
Sun Belt: 1
Independent: 1
Division II (Northern Sun): 1

Florida State

Arizona State
N.C. State
Georgia Tech
Eastern Illinois

Miss. State
Youngstown State
Western Carolina
Concordia-St. Paul

Some observations:

— More than a quarter of the Patriots draft picks over the past five years (13 of 42) hailed from the SEC. That’s no surprise: In addition to producing nine of the last 13 national championships, the SEC has led the nation in players drafted in each of the last 12 years.

— Of the four programs that have produced three Patriots picks, three are SEC schools (Florida State being the lone exception). They haven’t gotten much from their Florida selections (defensive tackle Dominique Easley, center Jon Halapio, cornerback Duke Dawson), but their Arkansas (defensive ends Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise, tight end A.J. Derby) and Georgia (running back Sony Michel, offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell) hauls have been solid.

Patriots assistant Bret Bielema, who coached Flowers, Wise and Derby with the Razorbacks, also coached running back James White at Wisconsin (fourth round, 2014), and the Patriots found another Georgia gem in undrafted center David Andrews in 2015.

— Bill Belichick’s close friendship with Nick Saban is well-documented, but the Patriots only have drafted two Alabama players in the last five years, and neither is still with the team. Cornerback/return man Cyrus Jones (second round, 2016) now is with the Baltimore Ravens, and linebacker Xzavier Dickson (seventh rounds, 2015) never played a game in the NFL.

— Iowa, led by longtime Belichick buddy Kirk Ferentz, has become a Patriots pipeline of late, with five ex-Hawkeyes spending at least some time on the 53-man roster in 2018. Belichick hasn’t drafted an Iowa player since 2007 (guard Mike Elgin, seventh round), however, and has done so just once ever. Perhaps that’ll change if T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant falls into the Patriots’ range next week.

— The Big 12 has developed the fewest draft picks of any Power Five conference in recent years, and that same trend has applied in New England. Just two of the Patriots’ last 42 selections have been Big 12 players: defensive tackle Malcom Brown (Texas) and defensive end Geneo Grissom (Oklahoma). The Patriots have drafted twice as many players from the Football Championship Subdivision.

— The Patriots have selected one FCS player in four of the last five drafts. Cornerback Keion Crossen, who went in the seventh round out of Western Carolina last year, is the latest entry on that list.

— The Patriots have made four first-round picks in the last five years. Three were from the SEC (Wynn, Michel, Easley) and one was from the Big 12 (Brown). The SEC also produced half of New England’s second-round picks (2 of 4) but none of their six third-rounders.

— The most obscure school that’s produced a Patriots draft pick in the last five years easily is Division II Concordia-St. Paul, alma mater of 2014 sixth-round pick Zach Moore. Moore didn’t last long in New England — he played in eight games as a rookie before being cut — but has hung around the league. The defensive end appeared in every game for the Arizona Cardinals last season and currently is a free agent.

— The above list doesn’t account for undrafted free agents. Here’s a breakdown of that group, including only ones who wound up making the Week 1 roster: four SEC (Andrews, Jonathan Jones, Adam Butler, Justin Coleman), two Big Ten (J.C. Jackson, Cole Croston), two Pac-12 (D.J. Foster, Chris Harper), one Mountain West (Jacob Hollister), one Independent (Harvey Langi), one Division II (Malcolm Butler).

Thumbnail photo via New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick

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