Bill Belichick, Patriots Were Among NFL’s Best Drafters A Short Time Ago

Bill Belichick had more hits than misses in the early 2010s


January 21, 2021

It’s undeniable that Bill Belichick and the Patriots have recently had some lean years extracting value out of the draft, but not too long ago New England’s head coach was one of the best in the business at identifying young talent.

Over the last five years, the Patriots rank 26th in the NFL in value rate, a metric that represents team AV (approximate value, a Pro Football Reference metric) over total draft AV. The Patriots also rank 24th in value vs. expected rate.

The last 10 years paints a much more positive picture, however.

The Patriots rank 12th in value rate and 11th in value vs. expected rate when you add in 2011-2016.

Here’s a glossary of stats devised to determine how much value teams are extracting specifically from the draft using Pro Football Focus’ Approximate Value, or AV, metric:

Value Rate: Team or player AV divided by total draft class AV

This is percent of value teams are drawing out of the draft.

Value Rate+: Value Rate where average=100

This is a simpler way of looking at Value Rate. Think of it like ERA+ or OPS+ if you’re a baseball fan.

Value Vs. Expected rate: How a player’s Value Rate compares to the expected Value Rate from his draft slot

This is a gauge of how efficiently teams are using their draft picks.

AV is not a perfect stat. But it is the best, easiest and most uniform metric to use for a broad exercise like this one.

TeamRkValue RateValue Rate+RkValue Vs. Expected%

The Jets have been almost impossibly bad at drafting over the last 10 years, especially when you consider the fact that they’ve used five Top 10 picks in that timespan.

The Ravens and Seahawks, meanwhile, have soared over their competition, and it definitely helps that they hit on quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson.


We took an in depth look at the 2020 NFL Draft:

And the last five years:

Earlier this week, so check out Parts 1 and 2 above.


The Patriots really didn’t move around the draft board much in 2015. They did trade guard Logan Mankins to the Buccaneers for tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round pick before the 2014 season in what was a shocking move at the time.

That fifth-round pick turned into defensive end Trey Flowers, who helped New England win two Super Bowls.

PlayerValue RateValue Rate+Value Vs. Expected%
Malcom Brown1.18%301.460.41%
Jordan Richards0.28%71.40-0.27%
Geneo Grissom0.09%23.80-0.29%
Trey Flowers0.96%245.930.58%
Tre’ Jackson0.15%39.67-0.18%
Shaq Mason1.18%301.460.90%
Joe Cardona0.15%39.67-0.06%
Matthew Wells0.00%0.00-0.20%
A.J. Derby0.09%23.80-0.06%
Darryl Roberts0.37%95.200.29%
Xzavier Dickson0.00%0.00-0.07%

Mason has been one of the Patriots’ best draft values over the last 21 years, ranking 10th in that category.

Brown isn’t regarded as a major hit in the first round, since he wasn’t brought back on a fifth-year option. He’s probably one of the Patriots’ most underrated players and started on three straight Super Bowl teams.

TeamRkValue RateValue Rate+GMRkValue Vs. Expected%
MIN15.70%182.46Rick Spielman30.21%
KC25.45%174.53John Dorsey10.23%
TB35.33%170.56Jason Licht20.22%
WFT44.52%144.78Scot McCloughan100.06%
NE54.46%142.80Bill Belichick80.10%
LAR64.00%127.92Les Snead100.06%
ARI73.84%122.96Steve Keim50.17%
SF83.69%118.00Trent Baalke140.02%
ATL93.66%117.01Thomas Dimitroff90.08%
SEA103.50%112.05John Schneider60.16%
CLE113.47%111.06Ray Farmer25-0.11%
BAL123.28%105.11Ozzie Newsome170.00%
MIA133.25%104.12Dennis Hickey120.05%
CAR143.19%102.14Dave Gettleman40.18%
LAC153.10%99.16Tom Telesco70.12%
NO163.04%97.18Mickey Loomis28-0.13%
NYG173.01%96.19Jerry Reese150.01%
LV182.70%86.27Reggie McKenzie21-0.05%
DAL192.57%82.31Jerry Jones170.00%
IND192.57%82.31Ryan Grigson19-0.03%
PHI212.48%79.33Chip Kelly150.01%
DET212.48%79.33Martin Mayhew19-0.03%
TEN232.45%78.34Ruston Webster30-0.16%
CHI242.42%77.35Ryan Pace26-0.12%
JAX252.39%76.36David Caldwell29-0.14%
HOU262.26%72.39Rick Smith22-0.07%
GB272.11%67.43Ted Thompson23-0.08%
BUF282.01%64.46Doug Whaley130.04%
DEN291.95%62.47John Elway24-0.09%
PIT301.86%59.50Kevin Colbert26-0.12%
NYJ311.70%54.54Mike Maccagnan32-0.22%
CIN321.55%49.58Mike Brown31-0.20%

Here’s a spreadsheet with metrics on every player drafted in 2015.

Minnesota hit on wide receiver Stefon Diggs, linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive end Danielle Hunter. The Jets’ best player in this draft was defensive end Leonard Williams. Their second-best was quarterback Bryce Petty. Woof.

Bringing in Brown, Flowers and Mason, it’s not surprising to see the Patriots ranked fifth in extracting value out of this class despite some misses like Richards and Grissom. The Patriots get an A-. Throw in undrafted find David Andrews, and this bumps up to an A.


The Patriots also didn’t make any notable trades during the 2014 NFL Draft. Dominique Easley was a major risk at 29th overall with known knee issues coming out of Florida. He was cut after just two seasons in New England and is the Patriots’ worst value of the last 10 years when draft slot is taken into account.

It always helps value to hit on a quarterback like Garoppolo, even if most of his value has come with the San Francisco 49ers. White was one of the Patriots’ most important players of the second Super Bowl era.

PlayerValue RateValue Rate+Value Vs. Expected%
Dominique Easley0.19%48.16-0.62%
Jimmy Garoppolo0.73%185.760.17%
Bryan Stork0.27%68.80-0.09%
James White0.97%247.680.68%
Cameron Fleming0.59%151.360.33%
Jon Halapio0.27%68.800.07%
Zach Moore0.08%20.64-0.08%
Jemea Thomas0.00%0.00-0.15%
Jeremy Gallon0.00%0.00-0.09%

This was actually the Patriots’ weakest draft of this five-year span despite bringing in Garoppolo and White. Easley is the Patriots’ second-worst pick of this time period.

TeamRkValue RateValue Rate+GMRkValue Vs. Expected%
LV16.64%212.42Reggie McKenzie10.41%
JAX25.48%175.44David Caldwell30.17%
LAR34.92%157.38Les Snead110.04%
DAL44.46%142.76Jerry Jones20.23%
GB54.22%135.02Ted Thompson60.10%
MIN63.98%127.28Rick Spielman130.02%
ATL73.74%119.54Thomas Dimitroff130.02%
WFT83.68%117.82Bruce Allen50.12%
TEN93.55%113.52Ruston Webster40.14%
NYG103.52%112.66Jerry Reese100.05%
BAL113.44%110.08Ozzie Newsome19-0.01%
DET123.41%109.22Martin Mayhew160.01%
MIA133.22%103.20Dennis Hickey130.02%
BUF143.17%101.48Doug Whaley170.00%
CHI153.12%99.76Phil Emery170.00%
NE163.09%98.90Bill Belichick120.03%
HOU163.09%98.90Rick Smith27-0.13%
CAR183.06%98.04Dave Gettleman60.10%
SF192.85%91.16Trent Baalke26-0.11%
CLE192.85%91.16Ray Farmer30-0.19%
KC212.71%86.86John Dorsey80.09%
ARI222.69%86.00Steve Keim20-0.04%
PIT222.69%86.00Kevin Colbert23-0.06%
DEN242.63%84.28John Elway90.07%
TB252.47%79.12Jason Licht25-0.10%
SEA262.26%72.24John Schneider21-0.05%
CIN272.18%69.66Mike Brown24-0.07%
NO281.56%49.88Mickey Loomis27-0.13%
NYJ281.56%49.88John Idzik31-0.20%
PHI301.48%47.30Howie Roseman29-0.15%
IND311.24%39.56Ryan Grigson21-0.05%
LAC321.05%33.54Tom Telesco32-0.21%

Here’s a spreadsheet with metrics on every player drafted in 2014.

The Raiders and Rams find themselves at the top of this list because they drafted Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald.

The Patriots get a B- since, ultimately, it was below average in value rate and above average in value vs. expected rate. The Patriots also signed an undrafted free agent by the name of Malcolm Butler; you might have heard of him. That was actually a really solid undrafted class of rookies with Alejandro Villanueva, Andrew Norwell, Todd Davis, Shaquil Barrett, Adrian Phillips and Cameron Brate, among others, all getting signed as free agents.


Belichick swung one of the best trades of his career during this draft, when he traded down from 29th overall, where the Minnesota Vikings took future Patriot Cordarrelle Patterson, to pick up the 52nd, 83rd, 102nd and 229th overall picks. The Patriots selected Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan, Josh Boyce and traded the seventh-rounder for running back LeGarrette Blount.

That’s a good way to win a couple of Super Bowls. Collins is the Patriots’ best value of this 10-year period based on value vs. expected rate. This is the goal of trading down: Finding a player or players who are better than the one you could have selected in your original draft slot.

The Patriots also previously used 2013 draft picks to trade for Aqib Talib, Albert Haynesworth and Chad Johnson. There were some hits. There were some regrets.

PlayerValue RateValue Rate+Value Vs. Expected%
Jamie Collins1.57%398.590.97%
Aaron Dobson0.16%41.23-0.40%
Logan Ryan0.97%247.400.53%
Duron Harmon0.57%144.320.16%
Josh Boyce0.03%6.87-0.34%
Michael Buchanan0.05%13.74-0.07%
Steve Beauharnais0.00%0.00-0.11%

Harmon, who was widely graded as a UDFA, was a completely shocking third-round pick out of Rutgers. The selection worked wonderfully for the Patriots, who found a three-time Super Bowl champion and captain. Collins and Ryan also were great values.

TeamRkValue RateValue Rate+GMRkValue Vs. Expected%
GB16.09%194.81Ted Thompson20.25%
BAL25.19%166.23Ozzie Newsome30.22%
DET35.03%161.04Martin Mayhew50.17%
PHI44.52%144.59Howie Roseman70.13%
KC54.19%134.20John Dorsey110.06%
ARI64.17%133.33Steve Keim130.04%
PIT74.03%129.00Kevin Colbert100.07%
NO83.71%118.61Mickey Loomis10.26%
BUF83.71%118.61Buddy Nix160.00%
CHI103.46%110.82Phil Emery40.19%
LAC103.46%110.82Tom Telesco80.11%
HOU103.46%110.82Rick Smith110.06%
NYJ133.41%109.09John Idzik24-0.07%
NE143.35%107.36Bill Belichick80.11%
CIN153.33%106.49Mike Brown20-0.04%
CAR163.30%105.63Dave Gettleman50.17%
LV173.27%104.76Reggie McKenzie19-0.03%
DAL183.25%103.90Jerry Jones150.02%
LAR183.25%103.90Les Snead22-0.06%
MIN203.14%100.43Rick Spielman21-0.05%
SF212.57%82.25Trent Baalke26-0.12%
TB222.49%79.65Mark Dominik130.04%
ATL232.38%76.19Thomas Dimitroff18-0.02%
NYG242.33%74.46Jerry Reese22-0.06%
JAX252.30%73.59David Caldwell29-0.18%
MIA262.16%69.26Jeff Ireland27-0.16%
WFT272.03%64.94Mike Shanahan17-0.01%
TEN281.73%55.41Ruston Webster31-0.23%
SEA291.43%45.89John Schneider25-0.11%
DEN301.33%42.42John Elway29-0.18%
IND311.00%32.03Ryan Grigson28-0.17%
CLE320.92%29.44Mike Lombardi32-0.25%

Here’s a spreadsheet with metrics on every player drafted in 2013.

The Patriots put together another above-average draft class on the back of that trade out of the first round. Imagine, instead, if they came away with Patterson, Dobson, Harmon, Buchanan and Beauharnais. The Patriots get a B.

The Patriots also signed guard Josh Kline, wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins and punter Ryan Allen as undrafted free agents.


The Patriots traded up twice in the first round to take Chandler Jones, one of the best pass rushers of his generation, and Dont’a Hightower, perhaps New England’s most important defensive player of the second Super Bowl run.

We’ll get into how they acquired the additional first-round pick next.

PlayerValue RateValue Rate+Value Vs. Expected%
Chandler Jones1.51%381.780.61%
Dont’a Hightower1.35%341.890.51%
Tavon Wilson0.41%102.57-0.22%
Jake Bequette0.00%0.00-0.41%
Nate Ebner0.25%62.680.09%
Alfonzo Dennard0.18%45.590.06%
Jeremy Ebert0.00%0.00-0.11%

It’s impressive to hit on two first-round picks so soundly based on value over expected rate.

Wilson was definitely a reach in the second round but still actually rates with positive overall value compared to the rest of the class.

TeamRkValue RateValue Rate+GMRkValue Vs. Expected%
SEA18.33%266.67John Schneider10.46%
PHI24.86%155.68Howie Roseman20.14%
CIN34.75%152.07Mike Brown110.04%
MIA44.73%151.35Jeff Ireland60.10%
WFT54.37%139.82Mike Shanahan50.11%
IND54.37%139.82Ryan Grigson130.01%
HOU74.28%136.94Rick Smith30.13%
LAR84.23%135.50Les Snead18-0.04%
CLE94.08%130.45Tom Heckert20-0.05%
MIN103.94%126.13Rick Spielman16-0.01%
DEN113.92%125.41John Elway30.13%
BUF123.83%122.52Buddy Nix130.01%
CAR133.76%120.36Marty Hurney60.10%
TB143.74%119.64Mark Dominik80.08%
NE153.69%118.20Bill Belichick100.07%
PIT163.22%103.06Kevin Colbert110.04%
ARI172.66%85.05Rod Graves130.01%
DET182.64%84.32Martin Mayhew18-0.04%
GB192.57%82.16Ted Thompson20-0.05%
LAC202.34%74.95A.J. Smith24-0.08%
NYJ212.30%73.51Mike Tannenbaum22-0.06%
BAL212.30%73.51Ozzie Newsome23-0.07%
KC232.25%72.07Scott Pioli26-0.12%
TEN242.16%69.19Ruston Webster25-0.10%
JAX251.89%60.54Gene Smith29-0.18%
DAL261.76%56.22Jerry Jones27-0.14%
NO271.64%52.61Mickey Loomis80.08%
CHI281.58%50.45Phil Emery30-0.19%
LV291.24%39.64Reggie McKenzie17-0.03%
NYG300.99%31.71Jerry Reese31-0.22%
SF310.81%25.95Trent Baalke31-0.22%
ATL320.77%24.50Thomas Dimitroff28-0.15%

Here’s a spreadsheet with metrics on every player drafted in 2012.

The Giants, 49ers and Falcons all whiffed extremely hard in this year’s draft. New York’s best pick was Rueben Randle. Joe Looney was San Francisco’s top player, and Atlanta really didn’t end up with anyone of note.

The Patriots get another B. Their top undrafted free agent was Brandon Bolden.


The Patriots headed into the 2011 NFL Draft with two first-round picks after trading defensive end Richard Seymour to the Raiders. Belichick took Nate Solder then traded New England’s first-round pick for a 2011 second-round pick and a future first. The Patriots took Shane Vereen in the second round and used their future first to trade up for Jones.

The Patriots made another savvy trade when they moved down from the second round to take Stevan Ridley in the third round and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon in the fifth.

Ras-I Dowling was a major miss in the beginning of the second round. He’s Belichick’s worst pick based on value vs. expected rate.

PlayerValue RateValue Rate+Value Vs. Expected%
Nate Solder1.60%404.280.63%
Ras-I Dowling0.02%5.86-0.73%
Shane Vereen0.58%146.480.01%
Stevan Ridley0.58%146.480.07%
Ryan Mallett0.09%23.44-0.42%
Marcus Cannon1.04%263.660.78%
Lee Smith0.09%23.44-0.14%
Markell Carter0.00%0.00-0.17%
Malcolm Williams0.00%0.00-0.13%

The Patriots extracted value out of the draft by taking Solder, Vereen, Ridley and Cannon but also rated only average in value vs. expected rate.

TeamRkValue RateValue Rate+GMRkValue Vs. Expected%
SEA16.09%194.91John Schneider10.34%
DEN24.77%152.66John Elway100.07%
CIN34.54%145.25Mike Brown60.12%
HOU44.33%138.58Rick Smith40.13%
DAL44.33%138.58Jerry Jones40.13%
NE64.01%128.21Bill Belichick15-0.01%
SF73.91%125.24Trent Baalke120.04%
KC83.84%123.02Scott Pioli120.04%
BAL93.68%117.83Ozzie Newsome80.10%
ATL103.59%114.87Thomas Dimitroff20.23%
NO113.57%114.13Mickey Loomis60.12%
BUF123.50%111.90Buddy Nix22-0.06%
TEN133.40%108.94Mike Reinfeldt16-0.02%
WFT133.40%108.94Mike Shanahan20-0.04%
PHI153.29%105.23Howie Roseman16-0.02%
ARI163.24%103.75Rod Graves18-0.03%
GB173.22%103.01Ted Thompson140.02%
CLE183.20%102.27Tom Heckert18-0.03%
PIT193.17%101.53Kevin Colbert90.09%
CAR203.10%99.31Marty Hurney23-0.07%
LAC212.85%91.15A.J. Smith23-0.07%
NYJ222.80%89.67Mike Tannenbaum30.14%
MIA232.45%78.55Jeff Ireland110.06%
LV242.32%74.11Al Davis20-0.04%
MIN252.27%72.63Rick Spielman26-0.11%
LAR262.08%66.70Billy Devaney28-0.12%
IND271.90%60.77Chris Polian26-0.11%
TB271.90%60.77Mark Dominik29-0.13%
CHI291.71%54.84Jerry Angelo25-0.10%
NYG301.39%44.47Jerry Reese30-0.19%
JAX311.23%39.28Gene Smith31-0.24%
DET320.90%28.90Martin Mayhew32-0.34%

Here’s a spreadsheet with metrics on every player drafted in 2011.

The Patriots get another B. Solder and Cannon were great picks and values. Vereen was a solid bridge between Kevin Faulk and James White in the third-down back role.


Belichick doesn’t quite rank in the upper echelon of general managers over the last 10 drafts, but he’s certainly above average in both value rate and value vs. expected rate.

TeamYearsGMRkValue RateValue Rate+RkValue Vs. Expected%
WFT2020Ron Rivera14.76%152.3810.21%
BAL2019-2020Eric DeCosta24.36%139.6430.10%
IND2017-2020Chris Ballard34.33%138.5550.07%
CLE2016-2017Sashi Brown44.07%130.3660-0.11%
BAL2011-2018Ozzie Newsome54.05%129.6990.05%
CLE, KC2013-2019John Dorsey63.92%125.5840.08%
BUF2018-2020Brandon Beane73.87%123.8820.13%
MIA2016-2020Chris Grier83.79%121.3490.05%
SEA2011-2020John Schneider93.77%120.6450.07%
SF2017-2020John Lynch103.68%117.78180.03%
BUF2011-2013Buddy Nix103.68%117.6833-0.01%
GB2011-2017Ted Thompson123.64%116.5680.06%
JAX2013-2016, 2020David Caldwell123.64%116.3439-0.02%
CLE2011-2012Tom Heckert123.64%116.3646-0.04%
LV2019-2020Mike Mayock153.61%115.5560-0.11%
MIN2011-2020Rick Spielman163.60%115.20240.01%
WFT2014, 2017-2019Bruce Allen173.49%111.75180.03%
HOU2011-2017Rick Smith183.43%109.80130.04%
TEN2011Mike Reinfeldt193.40%108.9439-0.02%
CAR, NYG2013-2020Dave Gettleman203.38%108.0690.05%
TB2014-2020Jason Licht213.34%107.03290.00%
DAL2011-2020Jerry Jones223.27%104.64130.04%
WFT2011-2013Mike Shanahan223.27%104.56230.02%
LAR2012-2020Les Snead223.27%104.69290.00%
MIA2014-2015Dennis Hickey253.24%103.66130.04%
NE2011-2020Bill Belichick263.18%101.76240.01%
CAR2011-2012, 2018-2020Marty Hurney273.17%101.58280.00%
CLE2014-2015Ray Farmer283.16%101.1166-0.15%
CIN2011-2020Mike Brown293.15%100.8046-0.04%
MIA2011-2013Jeff Ireland303.12%99.72290.00%
DET2016-2020Bob Quinn313.11%99.4839-0.02%
TEN2016-2020Jon Robinson323.05%97.6543-0.03%
KC2011-2012Scott Pioli323.05%97.5546-0.04%
DEN2011-2020John Elway343.03%96.9633-0.01%
WFT2015-2016Scot McCloughan343.03%97.0746-0.04%
LAC2013-2020Tom Telesco362.97%95.16180.03%
JAX2017-2019Tom Coughlin372.96%94.8733-0.01%
ARI2011-2012Rod Graves382.95%94.4033-0.01%
CHI2015-2020Ryan Pace392.93%93.63130.04%
NO2011-2020Mickey Loomis402.91%93.1250.07%
PHI2011-2014, 2016-2020Howie Roseman402.91%93.2333-0.01%
PIT2011-2020Kevin Colbert422.89%92.48240.01%
CLE2020Andrew Berry422.89%92.5246-0.04%
DET2011-2015Martin Mayhew422.89%92.5652-0.05%
NYJ2020Joe Douglas422.89%92.5266-0.15%
ATL2011-2020Thomas Dimitroff462.84%90.88180.03%
LV2012-2018Reggie McKenzie462.84%90.8139-0.02%
BUF2014-2017Doug Whaley482.74%87.80180.03%
ARI2013-2020Steve Keim482.74%87.6052-0.05%
CHI2012-2014Phil Emery502.72%87.01290.00%
SF2011-2016Trent Baalke502.72%87.2057-0.09%
TB2011-2013Mark Dominik522.71%86.6933-0.01%
LAC2011-2012A.J. Smith532.60%83.0554-0.08%
GB2018-2020Brian Gutekunst542.58%82.6854-0.08%
IND2012-2016Ryan Grigson552.57%82.1143-0.03%
NYJ2011-2012Mike Tannenbaum562.55%81.59130.04%
PHI2015Chip Kelly572.48%79.33240.01%
NYJ2013-2014John Idzik572.48%79.4865-0.14%
TEN2012-2015Ruston Webster592.47%79.1157-0.09%
KC2018-2020Brett Veach602.45%78.3390.05%
HOU2018-2019Brian Gaine612.44%78.0943-0.03%
LV2011Al Davis622.32%74.1146-0.04%
NYG2011-2017Jerry Reese632.29%73.3754-0.08%
NYJ2015-2019Mike Maccagnan642.18%69.8563-0.12%
LAR2011Billy Devaney652.08%66.7063-0.12%
IND2011Chris Polian661.90%60.7760-0.11%
CHI2011Jerry Angelo671.71%54.8459-0.10%
JAX2011-2012Gene Smith681.56%49.9168-0.21%
CLE2013Mike Lombardi690.92%29.4470-0.25%
HOU2020Bill O’Brien700.68%21.7769-0.23%

It’s no major surprise to see GMs like DeCosta, Ballard, Newsome, Dorsey, Beane, Grier, Schneider and Thompson high on this list. Caldwell is higher than expected, but he also did draft Jalen Ramsey, Allen Robinson and Yannick Ngakoue.

It’s interesting to see Gutekunst and Veach so low on this list, but the Chiefs and Packers have not hit on high impact players over the last three years. Arizona’s Steve Keim is the next worst current GM.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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