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A Look Back At Patriots 2016 Draft Class

By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- As we look back at a few of New England's recent draft classes, the group of players Bill Belichick drafted in 2016 is a unique one. At first glance, it wasn't a great draft for the Patriots. Only one of Belichick's nine selections remains on the team, which isn't ideal for roster-building purposes.

But of the nine players he selected, five of them went on to prove that they could make plays or be a pretty decent football player. That's not too bad.

Unfortunately his biggest miss in the 2016 draft happened to be New England's highest pick. Without a first-round pick because of some deflated football nonsense, the Patriots didn't pick until late in the second round in 2016. And that pick was a giant disaster.

And now that we're in 2020, only one player remains on the roster, and he may be traded in the near future. But a handful of those players had fingerprints on a Super Bowl or two, so it's hard to term 2016 as a complete disaster. But it certainly could have been a lot better.

Rd. 2, No. 60: Cyrus Jones, CB

Cyrus Jones
Cyrus Jones with the Patriots during the 2016 season. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Jones was a dynamic return man for Alabama in college, but he had some massive fumble issues when he reached the NFL. He barely played for the Patriots defense as a rookie, and then tore his ACL in the 2017 preseason, ending his year. He was cut in 2018, brought back briefly a few weeks later, and then released again.

A special teams specialist in the second round, especially one who didn't work out, is a gigantic whiff for Belichick. And though he went a few picks after New England's next selection -- which was a hit -- tight end Austin Hooper would have been a great pick in this spot.

Verdict: Another Big Second-Round Miss

Rd. 3, No. 78: Joe Thuney, G

joe thuney
Patriots offensive lineman Joe Thuney. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

A tackle in college, Thuney has developed into one of the best guards in the NFL. He's played in every game in his four NFL season, winning two Super Bowls.

The Patriots hit him with the franchise tag this offseason, which gave Thuney a giant bump in pay. There's a chance he may be traded ahead of this year's draft to give New England a few more kicks at the can in 2020.

Verdict: HIT

Rd. 3, No. 91: Jacoby Brissett, QB

Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett celebrates his 27-yard touchdown run against the Houston Texans. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

After some glowing reviews from Bill Parcells, Belichick drafted a quarterback for the second straight year in Brissett. He even started two games after Jimmy Garoppolo got injured during Brady's Deflategate suspension, completely baffling Bill O'Brien's Texans on national TV. His rushing touchdown that Thursday evening was a thing of beauty, even if he was wearing that awful color rush uniform.

The Pats traded Brissett to the Indianapolis Colts after his rookie season, receiving former first-round pick Phillip Dorsett in return to help Tom Brady's arsenal. Dorsett didn't do much his first season in New England, but became a pretty reliable target for Brady at times over his next two years with the Patriots.

Meanwhile, Brissett went on to start 30 games for the Colts over the last three seasons.

Verdict: Pretty Good Pick

Rd. 3, No. 96: Vincent Valentine, DT

Vincent Valentine - New England Patriots v Arizona Cardinals
Vincent Valentine (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Valentine recorded one sack in his two games in New England. He was cut before the 2018 season, signed on with the practice squad, and then cut again a month later. He's since been with the Arizona Cardinals (twice) and Seattle Seahawks practice squad.

Needless to say, you need to get a lot more than two games out of a third-round pick.

Verdict: Miss

Rd. 4, No. 112: Malcolm Mitchell, WR

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons
Malcolm Mitchell #19 of the New England Patriots makes a catch against C.J. Goodwin #29 of the Atlanta Falcons in the second quarter during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Mitchell's career was clouded with injuries, and there were injury concerns with him out of college. But he played a major role in New England's Super Bowl LI comeback against the Falcons as a rookie. He missed all of 2017 and was cut in 2018, and was forced to retire in March 2019 after playing just 14 games in the NFL.

The pick was a risk by the Patriots, and that's how it played out. But considering that big performance when it mattered most  -- plus Mitchell is a really solid dude --it's hard to call him a bust.

Verdict: Decent pick derailed by injuries

Rd. 6, No. 208: Kamu Grugier-Hill, LB

Grugier-Hill was cut before the 2016 season, and has spent the last four years on the Philadelphia Eagles, playing mostly special teams.

Rd. 6, No. 214: Elandon Roberts, LB

elandon roberts
Elandon Roberts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Roberts turned into a solid late-round pick for Belichick, filling in for an injured Dont'a Hightower during his rookie season. He was a quality depth piece at the position and a good special teams contributor, and in 2019, he even saw some time at fullback for the injured James Develin.

His versatility earned him a nice payday from the Miami Dolphins this offseason.

Rd. 6, No. 221: Ted Karras, G

Ted Karras
Patriots offensive lineman Ted Karras. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Karras was a solid depth piece in his four seasons in New England, moving around the line over his first three years. He played 90 percent of the team's offensive snaps in 2019, and got a nice paycheck from the Miami Dolphins this offseason.

Rd. 7, No. 225: Devin Lucien, WR

After some preseason hype, Lucien was cut before the season.

2016 Verdict: Some good picks within a whole lotta 'meh'

The Patriots got a big-game performance out Mitchell, a big contributor on their offensive line in Thuney, and some solid depth pieces in Roberts and Karras. But missing on Jones was bad -- real bad.

At least Bill hit on the undrated free agent market again, finding a solid depth piece in the secondary in Jonathan Jones. He's signed through the 2023 season, and will likely outlast everyone the Patriots drafted in 2016.


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