The Patriots built a favorite out of leftovers

AP

It wasn’t so long ago that the Patriots were seen as a “young, unproven” team and the Jets were the trendy pick  in the AFC East.

The Patriots have since taken over the mantle as Super Bowl favorites by racking up a +28 turnover margin, and playing wildly efficient on offense.   (An improving defense hasn’t hurt.)

The 2010 Patriots achieved the No. 1 seed with a group of underdogs at the skill positions.  In a terrific article for the New York Times, Chase Stuart looks at the draft pedigree of the team’s skill position players.

He notes that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is the only player among New England’s top eight skill position guys taken in the top-60 picks of the draft.  The top two running backs were both undrafted.  For comparison, the Jets have five first round picks at the skill positions, including three top-five picks.

Stuart went back and did a comparison of the pedigree of skill position talent for all 44 Super Bowl champions.  The resulting formula determined the 2003 and 2004 Patriots were the two least-acclaimed champions of all time at the skill positions.

If the 2010 Patriots win it all, they will have the “worst” draft pedigree of any champion by far.  This pedigree — and New England’s inexperienced young defense — is one reason why Patriots fans have to feel uncomfortable with the role of heavy favorite again.

It’s also a reason why Bill Belichick must enjoy coaching this team so much, re-making another group of seemingly spare parts into a team capable of dominance.

76 responses to “The Patriots built a favorite out of leftovers

  1. Great piece, and this verifies what we Patriots’ fans have known all along – the Pats do more with less, a testament to coaching and player development within the Patriots’ organization.

    Cue the haters…

  2. Hey, don’t count out the Jets’ scrubs. Just ask Rex. “McKnight’s nuts are ready to drop.”

  3. Tom Brady’s skills make skill player draft pedigree irrelevant, not Belichick or the system.

  4. As a Patriot fan, no we don’t have to feel uncomfortable playing the favorite role.

    We are used to seeing “nobodys” come in and succeed, and that extends beyond players.

    QB
    Matt Cassel (Didn’t start since HS; starts one season and gets a job in KC)

    RB
    Antowain Smith
    JR Redmond
    BenJarvus Green-Ellis
    Danny Woodhead

    WR
    David Givens
    Jabar Gaffney
    Wes Welker

    OL
    Stephen Neal
    Dan Koppen
    Dan Connolly

    I don’t need to list coaches; you’ve seen atleast four fail from the head coach position.

    As long as BB is the head coach, I feel comfortable playing anyone.

  5. It is the reason that it has turned me into an all time Patriot hater to hoping they win the Superbowl. Big Woodhead and Hernandez fan.

  6. Say what you want about SpyGate, but the Pats have won [strong]13% more games[/strong] since that fateful day in 2007.

    Bill Belichick, love him or hate him, is a football god. A living legend. You’d take him if you could. If you deny it, you’re lying to yourself and no one believes you.

  7. Do you hear that Packer fans? Your boy Ted Thompson couldn’t hold Belichicks jock when it comes to recognizing talent and getting the most out of it.

  8. I HATE the Patriots (as a Colts fan), but it’s hard to argue with this rationale. It’s not all on the arm of Brady — look what they did with Cassell in the mix. Bottom line is, the Patriots are one of the few true TEAMS in the NFL. No show-boating, no prima donnas, no arrests, no “me first, look at me” type players….just everyone, bought into one system and giving a better effort than the guy next to you.

    It’s really getting hard to dislike these guys…

  9. Yeah, Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Devin MCcorty, Matt Light, Arron Henandez, Wes Welker, Jerod Mayo, Logan Mankins, to name a few are players no other team wanted. Give me a break. Every year teams that are favorites have no namers and roll players, as long as yopu gopt a good core group and a good QB it doesn’t matter.
    Dumb article, could be written about many teams still left in the playoffs.

  10. Some people say about great coaches that he can beat you with his players and then he could turn around and switch rosters and beat you with your own players.

    Well, Bill B is one of those great coaches, and Tom Brady is one of his players that isn’t ever going to get swapped out.

    They find guys by any means necessary who fit with the system (FA, trade, draft at value) and use the highest draft picks mostly on those positions that are intrinsicly hard to fill (O-line, D-line, cornerbacks, safeties, occasionally a LB).

    They also don’t make a second mistake by cutting a lower-drafted player to keep a higher-drafted player. Your reputation doesn’t matter. You don’t, for example, cut Danny Woodhead to keep Joe McKnight when the former is way outperforming the latter, even if you may be a little embarassed about having used a draft pick on McKnight. You recognize opportunities and cut your losses.

  11. “It’s also a reason why Bill Belichick must enjoy coaching this team so much, re-making another group of seemingly spare parts into a team capable of dominance.”

    ++++++++++++++++++++

    Dominance? Is that what you call Cleveland 34, Pats 14?? LOL

    Guess it helps when you play Buffalo, Miami, and the Lions every other week, and get to rest up between real games. I’m sure the Ravens would not object to switching schedules with ’em.

  12. Except for receivers and running backs, I’m pretty sure the Patriots starters are mostly 1st and 2nd round picks. If anything it means they don’t believe in drafting receivers in the first round.

  13. As a Dolphin fan, I hate the Patriots. But you can’t deny their great coaching staff and what they have accomplished in the past decade.

    That said, I disagree with Welker being a nobody. He showed a lot of promise in Miami. He just didn’t have a good QB to throw to him. If he was a nobody, NE wouldn’t have given up a 2nd round pic for him.

  14. Bellyache’s trophy room will be so full he won’t have anywhere to put the bimbo blond girlfriend.

  15. One of Belichick’s possibly most valuable skills he brought to the Patriots was evaluating talent. Consider that in Belichick’s first draft he picked up Tom Brady in the 6th round as the 199th pick. The fact that the Patriots are getting it done this season against teams that are a lot more top heavy when it comes to where they were picked in the draft is another testament to his skill.

    Also consider this. People who have worked with Belichick in that position have gone on to other teams and had great success as General Manager. That includes Thomas Dimitroff who is the GM of the Falcons since 2008, Ozzie Newsome who has been GM of the Ravens since 2002, Scott Pioli who has been GM of the Chiefs since 2009, and Mike Tannenbaum who has been GM of the Jets since 2006. That’s a far better track record then Belichick has had with former Assistant coaches, who overall have gone to other teams and have been busts (with a few exceptions).

  16. I like this like and dislike toggle ..it shows me the readers of this site are predominantly patriot fans. It’ll make it a lot easier to ignore the comments in the future.

  17. It’s the perfect system. Each player is only asked to do a small part and to not screw up.

    I’ve always hated that sissy dink and dunk offense, but it’s so effective and they have the perfect personnel to run it.

  18. It’s a great formula that starts with the owner, and includes the best coach ever, who is also a great evaluator of talent. The best part is these are players you want to cheer for, not a bunch of illiterate thuggs, and loudmouths who talk a better game than they play. Oh, and the draft picks…

  19. Belichick always gets beat up by the prognosticators and armchair coaches for stockpiling draft picks and then trading down. But he uses the picks as currency year after year and he doesn’t fall in love with the expensive 1st round on a regular basis. He’s looking for value in other rounds. His team building process does not value expensive stars, just pieces of the overall puzzle to fit the defense or offensive units goals. The only way that you can consistently win in the salary cap era is to embrace that philosophy. In pro football you can’t be like the Yankees and make a “$100M mistake” on a guy, and if he doesn’t work out just move on to the next big name star. How many owners in football throw all-in to get one or two guys (Bud Adams, Dan Snyder) and screw their teams up for years to come?

  20. Pats may be too banged up in the front 7 on D.
    Just too many injuries. Ty Warren. Mike Right.
    Ron Brace. Now Myron Pryor is doubtful. Ouch.
    Cunningham banged up, Banta-Cain banged up.
    Jets will try to run. Gonna be tough to stop with
    all those injuries.

    Brady gotta carry them on his back I think.

  21. bleedblue18 says: Jan 14, 2011 5:33 PM

    Yeah, Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Devin MCcorty, Matt Light, Arron Henandez, Wes Welker, Jerod Mayo, Logan Mankins, to name a few are players no other team wanted. Give me a break. Every year teams that are favorites have no namers and roll players, as long as yopu gopt a good core group and a good QB it doesn’t matter.
    Dumb article, could be written about many teams still left in the playoffs.
    —————————————————

    No, actually it couldn’t be written about other teams in the playoffs… and that is the point of the article.

  22. jimboonie, the Patriots have 21 undrafted free agents, so they aren’t just at RB and WR. One UDFA starts at CB (Arrington), UDFA Kyle Love will start on the D-line, Dan Connoly will start at G, replacing Neal (who is on IR but was also an UDFA). Yes, many of the others are backups and special teamers, but sme are key guys like Guyton.

    For value picks, see also starters 7th rounder Banta-Cain, 5th rounder Ninkovich, 5th rounder Koppen, and that guy who wears #12. Watch 7th rounder Edelman return punts.

    There are “value picks” all over the roster

  23. andyprough says: Jan 14, 2011 5:42 PM

    Guess it helps when you play Buffalo, Miami, and the Lions every other week, and get to rest up between real games. I’m sure the Ravens would not object to switching schedules with ‘em.

    —————————————————-

    Hey Andy… did you forget about Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, NY Jets, Green Bay, and Chcago? I’m pretty sure they beat all those teams as well.

    Go back to practice, Suggs.

  24. Guess it helps when you play Buffalo, Miami, and the Lions every other week, and get to rest up between real games. I’m sure the Ravens would not object to switching schedules with ‘em.

    ———————————————

    What a dbag. Uh, they beat the Jets, Steelers, Colts, a much improved Detroit team, Packers, Ravens, Bills twice (the same team that almost beat the Steelers and Ravens, remember?), Bears, Chargers, and Vikings.

    In which games did you think they rested up?

    I’m all for intelligent banter between fans but seriously, some of you morons are Cromartie-dumb.

  25. All I have to say is Im really glad the Jets had their fair share of gems released to the patriots. For example: Danny Woodhead will be their ‘oops’ like Wes Welker was the fins ‘oops’.

  26. @andyprough – dude your hater loser act is tiresome and way off base. check your facts before posting dumb crap that makes you look only more ignorant. so go check the Pats schedule and see who they beat this year…play off teams like: Balt, Pitts, Jets, Bears, Colts, GB. some of these games were back to back…throw in the chargers and u get the pic. now go back to that hole you popped out of and keep it shut.

  27. andyprough says:
    Jan 14, 2011 5:42 PM
    “It’s also a reason why Bill Belichick must enjoy coaching this team so much, re-making another group of seemingly spare parts into a team capable of dominance.”

    ++++++++++++++++++++

    Dominance? Is that what you call Cleveland 34, Pats 14?? LOL

    Guess it helps when you play Buffalo, Miami, and the Lions every other week, and get to rest up between real games. I’m sure the Ravens would not object to switching schedules with ‘em.

    14-2 with wins over Pittsburgh, Indy, Baltimore, Green Bay, Chicago, New York Jets to name a few. Baltimore would not have made the playoffs with New Englands schedule.

  28. @all4patriots

    I know. They have a lot of undrafted guys, and low round picks playing. I’m talking about 1st round starters like Mankins, Wilfork, G. Warren, Mayo, Meriweather Mcourty. 2nd round picks like Light, Vollmer, Branch, Spikes, Cunningham, Chung. Banta caine hasn’t been starting much all year. I’m a Patiots fan. I know they have undrafted and lower round picks playing. But most are not. Also, Branch wass the 33rd overall pick. So who ever wrote the article and said Gronkowski was the only player at the offensive skill position to be taken in the to 60 is wrong.

  29. @madsqgrdn says:
    Jan 14, 2011 5:56 PM
    I like this like and dislike toggle ..it shows me the readers of this site are predominantly patriot fans. It’ll make it a lot easier to ignore the comments in the future.
    ____________________________

    Think positive. It aint all bad. If the Jets win just think how much sh*t you’ll get to talk on Monday morning.

  30. @andyprough wins stupidest comment of the day again, as he does nearly every time he posts.

    The Patriots played one of the more difficult schedules not just this year, but in recent memory. They played 7 games against playoff teams (6-1, and also beat the only team they lost to by 6 TDs). They also played @ SD, who finished with a winning record and were playing well at the time. You mention B-more would have like to play the Patriots’ schedule, and mention the Browns and Dolphins as bad teams each played. Well, they both played a combined three games against those two teams (also, the Bengals would have been a better example, but they both played them, too). You also mentioned the Lions, the worst team in the NFCN, which the Pats played this year. Well, the Ravens played the NFCS, including the lowly, 2-14, worst-in-football Panthers.

    So try again. Or better yet, do us all a favor and don’t.

  31. Dusty Grey says:
    Jan 14, 2011 5:44 PM
    Doesnt this just mean that the Pats are bad at drafting in the top rounds …

    Dusty, you show your intelligence with this comment. Perhaps you need to have a look at New Englands track record in the top rounds to see in fact they have one of the best draft records in the top rounds in the NFL even though generally the picks have been in the lower part of the round. Mccourty, Mayo, Wilfork, Ty Warren, Richard Seymor, Merriweather, Mankins, notice a pro bowl trend there in those first rounders. Lets look at 2nds now Gronkowski, Cunnigham, Spikes, Chung,Brace, Vollmer,Branch,Light, Watson not bad in 2nd round. 3rds and lower, Hernandez 4th,Deaderick 7th,Tate 3rd, Edelman 7th, Gostkowski 4th,Kazur 3rd, Cassell 7th, Assante Samuel 4th, Banta Cain 7th and of course Tom Brady 6th round. Do I even have to get into the undrafted players? Your comment sir has been destroyed!

  32. Also, don’t act like the Patriots can put anybody on the field and win. There have been some players they brought in that couldn’t play Duane Starks, Monty Beisel, Chad Brown, Adalius Thomas, Doug Gabriel, some guy named Mike Stone, Ellis Hobbs, a couple safeties named Scott. Adalius Thomas was supposed to be able to do everything, but couldn’t do anything well. You can’t win with just anybody.

  33. AndyPrough whining about the Patriots again? What a shock.

    You forgot the Jets twice, the Steelers, the Ravens, the Bears, the Packers, and the Colts. And they slaughtered half of them.

    The Patriots are 6-1 against playoff teams. They’ve put up tons of points on top defenses.

    Congrats on the Ravens and Steelers beating the mighty Bungles, Texans, etc.

  34. B.B. is not a likeable person. He is a smug jerk! But you have to admit he’s one of the best 2 or 3 coaches in history.

    & I can’t stand Brady’s hippy hair, & pretty-boy dimpled, hot babymomma & hot wife gettin’ face!

    That said, I can’t wait to see them beat the snot out of the loudmouth jets!

  35. jimboonie says:
    Jan 14, 2011 6:37 PM
    @all4patriots

    I know. They have a lot of undrafted guys, and low round picks playing. I’m talking about 1st round starters like Mankins, Wilfork, G. Warren, Mayo, Meriweather Mcourty. 2nd round picks like Light, Vollmer, Branch, Spikes, Cunningham, Chung. Banta caine hasn’t been starting much all year. I’m a Patiots fan. I know they have undrafted and lower round picks playing. But most are not. Also, Branch wass the 33rd overall pick. So who ever wrote the article and said Gronkowski was the only player at the offensive skill position to be taken in the to 60 is wrong.
    ________________________________

    I don’t know where you got your information, but Branch was taken in the 2nd round, 65th overall.

    http://www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?season=2002

    http://www.patriots.com/team/index.cfm?ac=playerbio&bio=17873

  36. “It’s also a reason why Bill Belichick must enjoy coaching this team so much, re-making another group of seemingly spare parts into a team capable of dominance.”

    ++++++++++++++++++++

    Dominance? Is that what you call Cleveland 34, Pats 14?? LOL

    Guess it helps when you play Buffalo, Miami, and the Lions every other week, and get to rest up between real games. I’m sure the Ravens would not object to switching schedules with ‘em.

    The person(probably retarded) who wrote this post should be shot and buried. End of story. If you’re going to comment on a sport with a specific beef, do some research before you sound like Sarah Palin.

  37. Guess it helps when you play Buffalo, Miami, and the Lions every other week, and get to rest up between real games. I’m sure the Ravens would not object to switching schedules with ‘em.

    ##############

    Ravens played 5 play off teams regular season

    Patriots played 7 play off teams regular seaosn

    You also beat up on the Bills, Dolphins oh and played those dynamite teams the Browns and Bengals twice each and the Broncos and the Panthers.

    You are not related to Terrell Suggs are you!!!

  38. @nesuperfan
    “I don’t know where you got your information, but Branch was taken in the 2nd round, 65th overall.”

    Sorry. I mis interpreted the yahoo website. It said 2nd round 33rd overall. I guess they meant 33rd in the second round.

  39. “Guess it helps when you play Buffalo, Miami, and the Lions every other week, and get to rest up between real games. I’m sure the Ravens would not object to switching schedules with ‘em.”
    ^^^^^
    Don’t forget your beloved Steelers, andyprough. I do believe Tom Brady is 6-1 all time against the black and gold, 2-0 in postseason?

    For once I may be cheering for Pittsburgh this week, I would love to see Pittsburgh come to Foxboro next week, first because it’s a better matchup, but also to see your head explode if another Steelers season ends at the hands of Brady and Belichick. Good luck tomorrow!

  40. patsfancanada says:
    Jan 14, 2011 7:19 PM
    Here it says incorrectly he was drafted 33rd.
    ________________________________

    As jimboonie realized and pointed out, that was not incorrect. He was the 33rd pick, but only of the second round.

  41. FYI jimboonie, for checking draft numbers, I find that Wikipedia has then in a very clear format.

  42. Here’s the thing – throughout the draft Belichick takes guys who fit his system throughout the draft. Then its up to them to make the team.

    Belichik will cut a 1st rounder if they’re not good enough to beat out a undrafted free agent – whereas other coaches would keep guys they drafted based on hubris. (Actually Belichick would trade him for maximum value, but that’s a different story)

    What he’s left with is something that LOOKS like a misassembled mismatch of journeyman players but is actually working as a smooth piece of machinery, each player playing his role.

    Basically we’re talking about a coach, hall of fame QB, and all the players buying into the team concept.

    Just shows that talent and pedigree aren’t as important as heart and commitment to play as a team.

  43. To all the patriot haters who say we had a easy schedule……. I hope you realize that we are 5-1 against the remaining teams in the playoffs….. We beat jets ravens steelers bears and packers so I don’t wanna hear it

  44. @andyprough…..Im guessing you can see Russia from your front porch too….dbag……I am Raider fan and after seeing what I have seen….The Patriots are a well oiled machine. They work well. They have a good coach. BB has brought this team back from loosing people like Crennel, Weis, McDaniels, Mangini, Pioli – Most of these names I mentioned were hired and fired…..Just goes to show that BB has more control over the running of this team.

    I bleed Silver and Black and I will always be a Raider fan till death, but as a football fan and leaving all grudges aside….The Patriots are a very good team. Would I take these guys on my team….IN A HEARTBEAT…..If I had the chance I would take BB, Brady and learn from the Kraft ownership on how to run a team. This should be the new America’s Team

  45. “As a Patriot fan I wish this site would give it a rest.”

    It is kind of ridiculous. Everyone will be picking some crappy team like the Bengals or Cowboys as Superbowl champs next year.

  46. Lifetime Steeler fan who watched Chuck Noll and Bill Walsh begin their careers and finish as two of the best all time. But I have to admit Bill Belichick deserves to join them as one of the truly great. He is rarely out coached and elevates players like Mile Vrabel who was kicked to the curb by Bill Cowher.

  47. Its funny how PFT feeds the PAt trolls with useless threads poached from articles printed elsewhere.

  48. It’s almost cult like. Some day, there will be Harvard Business Review article written on the management principles in that locker room.

    Just look at the people who have come to the Patriots late in their careers and early in their careers. Some castoffs. Some considered finished. Some never considered. Yet somehow, they bought into the system and found ways to contribute. And many of them grew and became better. They thrived.

    Guys like Roman Phifer, Joe Andruzzi, Terrel Buckly, Brian Cox, Otis Smith and David Patten. Guys like Rodney Harrison and Junior Seau. Guys like Stephen Neal and Earthwind Moreland. Guys like Mike Vrabel and Christian Fauria. Guys like Danny Woodhead and BGE. Guys like Corey Dillon and Randy Moss.

    Ya know what it is? It’s leadership. It’s development. It’s pride. And it’s a belief by the players that if they come to New England, they can and will win. And ultimately, its not money that attracts the real players, its winning.

    And besides, when you win 10 frickin’ games a year, you can’t count on just the draft to build. You must have a keen eye for untethered talent.

  49. @bjtodd

    It’s been awhile since I’ve been angry. But you got me there.

    First off let me explain what “retard”means: to make slow; delay the development or progress of. I would know. I work for a company in Maryland that serves people with disabilities and we hate that word. Mostly because it describes how undiagnosed people behave, not our clients.

    Second, if you want to be taken seriously, I’d drop the letters “bj” from your handle. It makes you sound like your parents couldn’t decide what to call you or you are advertising a service. I’m betting on the latter.

    Third, if your team hasn’t progressed in recent years, achieved or won a Super Bowl, their progess could be considered “retarded” and you as a fan, likewise.

  50. Does anyone think that:

    littlesparkplug:
    godellgetalife says:
    ftblfan9 says:
    patbutler87 says:
    drunkendegenerate says:
    bjtodd says:
    bleedblue18 says:
    andyprough says &
    jimboonie says,

    Have any clue just astronomically ignorant and incredibly unsophisticated they sound? Betcha not one of these people listed above has been watching football for more than a decade. Nor have any of them been even tangentially involved in, much less played a Team sport in their lives to appreciate the poetry of a TEAM achieving success because they are a TEAM. An actual, real-life TEAM! Not a bunch of immature, classless, overpaid, Jackass-imbeciles who like to orally masturbate to the ever-increasingly slutty media to validate their “careers” and meaningless existence. Just like their “COACH”.
    Woody must be SO proud.
    Time to Grow up children, your immaturity is blinding everyone who reads this site.

    Hats off to Roxtar10-who as a Colts fan at least understands a true TEAM when he sees one- because they have one in INDY. And Indianapolis is a LONG F@*%King way from Manhattan!

  51. i’d be willing to bet that the pats place a much higher value on player intelligence than most teams do.

  52. Stuart went back and did a comparison of the pedigree of skill position talent for all 44 Super Bowl champions. The resulting formula determined the 2003 and 2004 Patriots were the two least-acclaimed champions of all time at the skill positions.

    If the 2010 Patriots win it all, they will have the “worst” draft pedigree of any champion by far. This pedigree — and New England’s inexperienced young defense — is one reason why Patriots fans have to feel uncomfortable with the role of heavy favorite again.

    ________________________________________

    Actually, this “pedigree” is why every NFL fan should stop hating Belichick and take this opportunity to watch an all-time legend coaching in his prime. To dominate a league during the salary cap era for a full decade is an amazing accomplishment.

  53. Normally andyprough’s comments don’t solicit a response from me, but here goes:

    Balt
    SD
    Minn
    Cle…this is where they lose their second game
    Now for the fun:
    Pitt
    Colts
    Lions (short week on Thksgiving)
    Jets (big divisional game)
    Bears
    Pack
    Bills (played other playoff teams very tough)
    Dolphins (well OK you got me there Andy)

    Pittsburgh right thru the Bills game you point out where they got a rest…

  54. We feed off the haters……we only play to win. Pats 5-0 after bye in playoffs. All 5 times ended in the SB (3-2). Patriot Nation HOPES you hate us as you look UP @ us hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

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