If it takes three seasons to judge how successful a draft pick is, the Patriots’ 2019 class is not ready to be graded, no matter how much you want to tear your hair out about N’Keal Harry’s struggles.
The Pats, though, in the past decade have fared pretty well for a team always picking in the lower part of the first round because of their perennial success. The highest they picked between 2010 and 2018 was 17th in 2011.
New England also didn’t have a first-round pick in 2013, 2016 or 2017.
With that in mind, here’s how the eight Pats first-round picks of that nine-year span rank:
8. Dominique Easley
2014, 29th overall
Obviously, it’s tough to tear a guy down because of injuries, but the Florida products inability to stay on the field cost him from paying off for the Pats. He appeared in 11 games as a rookie before landing on the injured reserve and then the defensive tackle couldn’t take advantage of Vince Wilfork’s departure due to injuries in 2015. He was released a year later and played just 19 more games before his career ended after the 2018 season.
7. Malcom Brown
2015, 32nd overall
For a last pick in the first round, the Texas product has carved out a decent career. He had three sacks as a rookie and is still going strong, starting all 13 games he played in for New Orleans in 2020. He was traded by the Saints to Jacksonville last month.
6. Sony Michel
2018, 31st overall
Barring another major signing or trade by the Pats, they’re going to need more from the Georgia product, who has rushed for just 553 years over his first three seasons. Injuries limited him to just nine games (six starts) last season and he was usurped by 2019 third-round pick (87th overall) Damien Harris on the depth chart. With Harris and James White still around, Michel is going to have to earn his touches.
5. Isaiah Wynn
2018, 23rd overall
A torn Achilles cost the Georgia product his rookie season, but since then he’s played in 18 games, starting them all. He allowed just three sacks and was whistled for just two penalties last season, and had a solid PFF grade of 82.6. Hampered by injuries for two seasons, Wynn could still be an offensive line stalwart if he can stay on the field.
4. Nate Solder
2011, 17th overall
Through 98 games over seven seasons with the Pats before he left for the New York Giants, the Colorado product was as reliable as they come and his 95 starts prove it. From making the NFL All-Rookie team in 2011 through winning two Super Bowls, Solder was the type of left tackle Tom Brady loved having protecting his back. He was great enough to earn a four-year, $62 million pay day from the Giants in 2018.
3. Dont’a Hightower
2012, 25th overall
The best part of this pick is that after the Alabama product opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns, he’s on his way back to continue to reward the Pats’ faith in him taking him the first round nine years ago. He’s been a beast of the linebacker corps through eight seasons, including three that ended with Super Bowl championships. He’s 14th on the Pats’ all-time sacks list with 25 ½ and he named to the Pats’ All-Decade Team for the 2010s.
2. Devin McCourty
2010, 27th overall
It’s impossible to measure how much the defensive back out of Rutgers has meant to the Patriots over the past decade-plus. But you can start with the three Super Bowl rings McCourty has won and the two Pro Bowl selections he has earned. Amazingly he hasn’t missed a regular-season game since 2015 and he’s tied for sixth on the Pats’ all-time interceptions list (28). Just as important: he’s been a perennial defensive captain and a pillar of the community since coming to New England.
1. Chandler Jones
2012, 21st overall
For five glorious seasons in Foxboro, few linebackers -- when healthy -- were as feared around the NFL as the Syracuse product. He closed out his Pats career with 12 ½ sacks in 2015 before he was traded to Arizona. He made the Pro Bowl three times, was twice named an All-Pro and was named to the Hall of Fame All-2010s team. He’s eighth on the Pats’ all-time sacks list with 36.