In total, the Patriots selected 9 players overall during the 2016 NFL Draft. Without a first round pick, none of these players are particularly spectacular, but most, according to NFL Scouting Reports, seem coach-able. Regardless, all nine will be fighting for their jobs when training camp rolls up in late July. So without further ado, all nine picks (complete with reasoning as to why Belichick may have been interested).
#60 overall: Cyrus Jones (5’10”, 197), CB, Alabama: As a fifteen game starter last year, Jones had two interceptions. This may not seem overly impressive, but Jones is a versatile cornerback that should fit well into a nickel system. What is interesting about this cornerback is his punt-returning ability. Jones returned 42 punts for a 12.6 average, complete with four touchdowns. This could provide immediate relief for already beleaguered wide receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman.
#78 overall: Joe Thuney (6’5″, 304), OL, North Carolina State: Thuney, a three year starter at NC State is a valuable player because he has spent time at every position on the offensive line. Versatility and flexibility in terms of position is a trait that Belichick appreciates (e.g. Troy Brown and Julian Edelman both spending time at CB in seasons past). Currently, the Patriots unofficial depth chart lists Thuney as a left guard, but this could change quickly depending on need.
#91 overall: Jacoby Brissett (6’4″, 231), QB, North Carolina State: In 2015, Brissett led the Wolfpack to a 7-6 record, throwing for 2,662 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. This is a mobile quarterback that rushed for over 300 yards, paired with 6 touchdowns, and is seemingly competition for Garroppolo. Brissett will still begin the season third on the depth chart, behind a suspended Brady and Garroppolo (who will be completely overwhelmed in Week 1).
#96 overall: Vincent Valentine (6’4″, 329), DT, Nebraska: Last year, Valentine, after recovering from a knee injury that more or less sidelined him for the first half of the year, started seven games, recording ten tackles and three sacks. Valentine was likely picked up for his size, which is reminiscent of Vince Wilfork. Both are able to draw the attention of double teams (but only one has proved himself on an NFL level).
#112 overall: Malcolm Mitchell (6’0″, 198), WR, Georgia: With some grooming, Mitchell might develop into a dependable receiver for Brady to look to. NESN.com reports that Mitchell only had 3 drops on 93 targets in 2015 (compare with Julian Edelman, who had eight drops on 88 targets). To make matters more interesting, Mitchell’s NFL scouting report iterates how he is able to make the tough, contested catches across the middle.
#208 overall: Kamu Grugier-Hill (6’2″, 215), OLB, Eastern Illinois: Eastern Illinois’ Pro Day turned out to be wildly beneficial for Grugier-Hill. The linebacker was able to add a 38.5″ vertical leap and a 4.45 forty yard dash to his resume, which is rounded out nicely by his 2015 campaign: 70 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, and a single interception.
#214 overall: Elandon Roberts (6’0″, 235), ILB, Houston: Defenses need someone who is able to be a coach on the field, and with the departure of Jerod Mayo, the Patriots are seemingly lacking in that department. Enter Elandon Roberts, complete with a scouting report (from NFL.com) with buzz words such as “leader”, “passion”, and “coach’s dream”. The downside? “Slow to accelerate”. “Below average speed”.
#221 overall: Ted Karras (6’3″, 307), OG, Illinois: A captain during his senior year, Karras possesses one statistic that Belichick could not ignore; Karras has committed only two penalties over his last two seasons. At 307 pounds, Karras was able to open up running lanes consistently at the college level. Whether this will translate to the NFL or not remains to be seen, but the 4-year starter is planning on it.
#225 overall: Devin Lucien (6’2″, 195), WR, Arizona State: According to Pro Football Focus, Lucien had only three drops on 98 targets in 2015. Wide receivers with steady hands are a hot commodity in New England at the moment, and the ASU receiver opened eyes with his last three games, in which he had 534 yards and 5 touchdowns. This is certainly a low-risk/high-reward pick to round things out.