DeVante Parker trade underscores Patriots’ struggles in drafting and developing receivers

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The Patriots’ decision to trade for veteran receiver DeVante Parker— which reportedly means the end of the road for former first-round receiver N'Keal Harry — becomes yet another example of an important NFL reality.

The Patriots stink at drafting and developing receivers.

The problem may not be in the selection of young receivers. It could be in the grooming of the young receivers they select.

It’s an interesting chicken-egg conundrum for the Patriots. Are they picking the wrong players or are they doing the wrong things when it comes to turning young players into high-end performers? Is the coaching staff too impatient with wet-behind-the-ears wideouts, opting to run them off the field when they screw up in lieu of taking the time to properly show them the ropes?

Whatever the explanation, the Patriots have far more misses than hits in the Belichick era at the receiver position. Let’s have a look at all of them.

It’s too early to know what 2021 seventh-rounder Tre Nixon will become. He’s the only receiver picked since the Pats made Harry a first-rounder in 2019, passing over the likes of A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, and DK Metcalf. Prior to that, it was sixth-rounder Braxton Berrios in 2018 (Berrios has become a decent player for the Jets), fourth-rounder Malcolm Mitchell in 2016, seventh-rounder Devin Lucien in 2016, seventh-rounder Jeremy Gallon in 2014, second-rounder Aaron Dobson in 2013, fourth-rounder Josh Boyce in 2013, seventh-rounder Jeremy Ebert in 2012, third-rounder Taylor Price in 2010, third-rounder Brandon Tate in 2009, seventh-rounder Julian Edelman in 2009, fifth-rounder Matthew Slater in 2008, second-rounder Chad Jackson in 2006, fifth-rounder P.K. sam in 2004, third-rounder Bethel Johnson in 2003, second-rounder Deion Branch in 2002, and seventh-rounder David Givens in 2002.

Sure, not many teams can boast drafting a pair of Super Bowl MVPs at the receiver position, but the achievements of Edelman and Branch don’t make up for the struggles of the rest of the receivers drafted by New England since Belichick arrived.

That fact that it’s happening on Bill Belichick’s watch makes it even more glaring. It’s Bill Belichick, for crying out loud. One of the greatest coaches of all time. The man who also has been in charge of personnel for more than 20 years — and who has far more hits than misses.

At receiver, it’s far more misses than hits. At this point, his best play would be to not even use a draft pick on a receiver, but instead to acquire them through free agency or trades.

With another great crop of receivers entering the draft later this month, it’ll be interesting to see whether Belichick and company throw the dice yet again on a player to whom passes routinely are thrown. For the reasons outline above, maybe they shouldn’t. This year or ever again.

15 responses to “DeVante Parker trade underscores Patriots’ struggles in drafting and developing receivers

  1. Like the Pats are the only team that has ever swung and missed on a first round pick. I don’t think many teams draft better in the middle rounds.

  2. NFL goes through trends and right now they are WR crazy. It will be short lived as the Dolphins and Raiders will be wanting those draft picks and young legs very soon.

  3. And the Steelers generally seem to be great at it.

    Maybe hire away one of their minds to help? Lol

  4. Malcolm Mitchell had a chance to be decent before injuries finished him. He was pretty good his rookie year, especially after Gronk went down. Otherwise, yeah, that’s a pretty damning list.

  5. They have been terrible at developing WRs for a long time, but always seem to churn out effective o-linemen.

  6. I believe that DeVante Parker felt disrespected by all of those new WRs. He really wanted to retire a dolphin and he also felt like he was Miami’s best WR. I think that he is going to attempt to prove that too in New England. I sure hated to see him leave. What if Waddle or Tyreek get injured. This is why we should have kept him!

  7. Jakob Meyers was an undrafted free agent (so not drafted). But I think it is fair to say that BB did see something in him. And that have turned out quite well I think. He went might not be nr. 1, but still very productive.

  8. Common sense will tell you that Belichick is not a great coach or gm, he was lucky to have Brady for 20 years. Poor drafting and dismal record without TB, he’s not who most think he is. If Arians coached Brady for those 20 years then he would be the genius

  9. Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch
    Super Bowl MVP Julian Edleman
    All PRO possible HOF candidate Matther Slater

    these are all players drafted by the Patriots

    Malcolm Mitchell should be removed from the list due to injury

    Otherwise I agree with the list – but after 6 rings ask me if I care

  10. The best players that the pats ever drafted were a 6th round QB flyer lottery ticket and a 7th round QB that ended up being a good receiver. Luck should not be confused with skill.

  11. Sorry, how many other NFL teams have drafted two Super Bowl MVP receivers in the last 30 years? Oh yeah — ONE (Pittsburgh).

  12. It also underscores the fact that the Patriots were incredibly lucky to find lightning in a bottle with their 6th round pick of Tom Brady. As good a coach as Belichick may be (not a good GM), they wouldn’t have won a thing without Brady. This will continue to become clear as seasons pass.

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